A MIDDLESBROUGH gym is to be turned into a winter wonderland later this month, especially for children in need to receive a gift from Santa.

Fitness entrepreneur Mike Hind MBE is building his own Santa’s Grotto at his Mas Body Gym, on Meltcalfe Road, to turn it into a 'mini Lapland'.

He is also using money from his Full Stop 2 Online Hate campaign to buy almost 200 children across Teesside, who have been identified as unlikely to receive a present this year a sack full of goodies, including one special gift from their own handwritten Christmas list.

Mike’s efforts have been bolstered by donations from local businesses including Visualsoft CEO Dean Benson.

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Mike said: “Each month since we started the Full Stop 2 Online Hate campaign, we have donated 25% of merchandise sales to a charity, organisation or individual that needs help.”

So far, the 25% has managed to help donate £728.03 to Zoe’s Place, £2264.94 to Leo’s Cub Hub and £2852.45 to a little boy called Billy who has terminal cancer.

Mike said: “In the run up to Christmas, we wanted to see if the campaign could help as many people as possible and came up with the idea of collaborating with schools across Teesside to help children who otherwise won’t get a present this year."

Mike spoke to Carl Faulkner, CEO of Ironstone Academy Trust which is based in Redcar & Cleveland, to explain about the mission and ask the schools if they could identify children who might possibly go without this Christmas.

The Northern Echo: Ashleigh Jackson, personal trainer at Mike Hind Fitness with her donationAshleigh Jackson, personal trainer at Mike Hind Fitness with her donation

Between the schools, nearly 200 children have been identified.

These children will now be asked to write a letter to Santa with the toys they want, they will then post their letter to the North Pole which will enable Mike’s elves to work their magic.

Mike has arranged for the teachers, support workers and helpers to have exclusive access to Smyths Toy Store in Stockton one hour before opening to buy the presents and gifts each child has asked for on their Christmas list.

The result will be an individualised gift for each of the children presented by Santa at Mike’s Mini Lapland, on December 16 and 17.

The Northern Echo: Mike's client Rob Busby, and Mike's son Max with a donation of selection boxesMike's client Rob Busby, and Mike's son Max with a donation of selection boxes

Mike said: “I want to restore the magic of Christmas to as many children as possible.

“No child should feel that Santa has missed them out.

“My team, the schools and lots of elves are heading to Smyth’s on the 10th and we will use the money raised from the Full Stop 2 Online Hate campaign to pay for every present, so far this amount should be around £15,000 minimum, but everything we raise will keep adding to this fund so we can help more children.”

On December 16, 17 and 18, Mas Body Gym will be shut and the outdoor undercover training area will be transformed into a mini Lapland, complete with Santa himself and his sleigh.

Mike said: “We’ve got Christmas lights, snow machines, decorations, music and we will make it the most magical experience we possibly can!”

Each of the children will have the opportunity to sit with Santa - who will know all about him or her from their Christmas letter.

The children will take away a sack, which contains the gift that was purchased from their Christmas list, as well as fruit, an educational book and a selection box.

Each child will receive a letter when they open their present on Christmas morning, which will come from Santa himself.

Mike said: “My meal prep company will turn into Santa’s retreat and once each child gets their present the children can head over there for a hot chocolate and a hot dog and they can leave happy, having had a magical experience.”

Between 6pm and 10pm on December 16 and 17 and all day on December 18 mini-Lapland will be open to any child on Teesside who wants to visit.

Mike said: “We’ve already had requests from some parents with children with disabilities who can’t usually go and see Santa asking if they can be allotted a time to come in."

On his website stop-hate.co.uk, Mike has added the option of purchasing a Christmas card with 100% of proceeds from this going to the Full Stop 2 Online Hate magical Christmas appeal.

Mike uses his social media to make a lot of the things he does possible, his verified Facebook account with over 76k followers from around the world has prompted one generous follower from the USA to purchase one of the Christmas cards donating £350.

Mike said: “We’ve had the support of some amazing companies – Mandale Group in Thornaby who along with Visualsoft made a huge donation.

“Campbells Tyre and Exhausts in Redcar, GR Estates in Eston and UPVC Coatings in Middlesbrough, have all purchased advertising space on a banner.

“They have all done it – not for the advertisement – but to help make a child smile this Christmas.

“GW Leaders, have also donated all of the wood totalling over £2,000 for the Grotto build, which is just amazing.”

Thanks also go to Morrisons, who donated 50 selection boxes - and the other individuals and businesses who have been nominated to donate as many selection boxes as they can afford to.

Mike managed to raise over £40,000 last year and arranged for over 3,000 children to receive a food hamper that would last them over the Christmas holidays.

He said: “We’ve got around 1,000 selection boxes to date and we are expecting a lot more.

“Any that are left over, we will, as a team, load the vans and visit children’s hospitals and care homes with them."

Dean Benson, a client of Mike’s vowed to donate to the Full Stop 2 Online Hate campaign if he managed to stick to Mike’s 12 week weight loss and fitness program.

Dean said: “Mike’s mission has the same principal as my own charity work, which aims to ensure every Primary School child across Middlesbrough has their own iPad to start with and then go wider and wider.

“Spending time with Mike and listening to what he’s doing and has done, I just think, everyone is getting a bit sick with Covid, everyone’s feeling a bit down in the dumps and then Mike comes along with his cape on and helps lots of people!

“I just stand behind Mike and what he’s doing for the kids.

“Time is short for everyone and for someone to dedicate so much time and effort like Mike and his team are doing is special.

“Mike is at the centre doing all the hard work and it just needs others to chip in.”

Mike said: “Teesside is such a heart-warming place of good people and hopefully, we are inspiring people in other towns and cities to do the same thing.

“If you use social media right, it can be a force for good and that’s what the Stop Hate campaign is about.

“You can use it to help others or you can use it to spread hate and for bullying and harassment.

“I just want to use my social platform to pull those people who can help together and make Teesside a better place.”

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