TRIBUTES are pouring in for a philanthropic gym owner who died suddenly at the age of 48.
Graeme Hussey, of Stainton Grove, was renowned for “putting others before himself,” but few realized the full extent of the charitable nature of the committed Christian.
Not only did he give ten percent of all his income to St Mary’s Church at Barnard Castle every Christmas, but he also made countless anonymous donations to those in need. At Christmas, he would often buy a cart of toys to anonymously donate to charity so the kids wouldn’t miss out on them.
Mr. Hussey was the owner and manager of Brawlers Gym, in Bishop Auckland, where he gave as many “counseling sessions” as he gave professional fitness advice.
Ironically, the muscular man everyone knew weighed just 3.5 pounds when he was born on December 21, 1973.
His wife Kendra said: “He was taken away from his mother at birth and has become that strong man.”
Mr. Hussey spent his early childhood at St Chad’s School in Witton Park before moving to St John’s in Bishop Auckland. As a child his favorite toy was an Action Man and it was his dream to be a soldier. He became an RAF cadet at the age of ten.
He later became interested in bodybuilding and his heroes were Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dorian Yates.
At 16, he began to realize his dream by joining the Junior Parachute Company and a year later he was recruited into the Parachute Regiment.
Ms Hussey said: “An injury ended his career and he came out. He has set up his own security company which manages the gates in Darlington. “
In his early twenties, Mr Hussey competed in a number of bodybuilding competitions and won the Mr North Britain title at age 23.
Despite his physical strength, his strong personality has earned him a great reputation and “there has never been a problem at the doors of his pubs”.
It was around this time that he had a professional mixed martial arts fight against American Skip Hall.
His wife said, “He entered the fight with broken ribs and won the fight. However, he spent the rest of the night in the hospital.
Mr Hussey gave up the job when he learned he was going to be a father and started his own fencing and block paving business from his home in Stainton Grove, before his son Kane was born.
Paying homage to one of his favorite Dukes of Hazzard movies, he named his van Captain Lee.
He opened his own gymnasium when the economy deteriorated and business dried up.
It was here that he changed the lives of many young people.
A close friend, Mark Carr, said: “It was weird – when you went to see him it was more like a counseling session than a workout. He listened to anyone’s problems. We called him daddy, he was that kind of person.
Mr Hussey’s wife added: “Everyone called him Paps. Sometimes they just wanted to sit down and talk to get rid of everything from their chest.
Ms Hussey added that her husband can relate to people as he deals with his own mental health issues and will overcome them throughout his training.
She said her generosity extended beyond the gym, especially at Christmas, when he often bought a cart of toys to anonymously donate to charity.
Ms Hussey added: “He hated the idea of children waking up with nothing on Christmas. He always said to pay up front. Whatever you do, it will come back to you. Those who knew him knew what he looked like and what he did.
When he was not at work, Mr. Hussey enjoyed hiking in the Upper Vale countryside.
His wife said: “He loved Middleton-in-Teesdale and visiting the grave of Richard Watson, the bard of Teesdale. A lot of people didn’t know it, but the Bard of Teesdale was her great-great-grandfather.
Mr Hussey fell ill last month and was diagnosed with blood clots. Despite medical attention, his health deteriorated rapidly. His wife and family were by his side when he passed away on Thursday, September 22 at noon.
His wife said, “He died with his left hand and his wedding ring on his Bible.
Mr. Hussey is survived by his parents John and Kathleen, his wife Kendra, his stepson Ian and his son Kane.
Her funeral will be on Thursday, September 30 at 11:15 am at St Mary’s Church, Barnard Castle, followed by the funeral which all are welcome to attend. The vigil will take place at the Barnard Castle Working Men’s Club.
Anyone wishing to walk behind the funeral procession is invited to meet at 33 Churchill Road, Barnard Castle, from 10:15 a.m.
A fundraiser was launched to “reimburse” famous gym owner Graeme Hussey.
Mr Hussey, who passed away this month at the age of 48, was well known for his generosity to those in need.
Now friends are rallying to thank his kindness by raising money for Mr Hussey’s family.
Mark Carr, who started the campaign, said: “He was a much-loved man who would do anything for anyone.
“He’s one of the strongest, sweetest men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
“The work he has done for the community training his children and adults not only to develop their strength and physical skills but also their mental state and well-being is amazing.
“He was always there to give advice, but he was terrible at taking it.
“He has achieved incredible things in his life, but the two things he was most proud of were his children, Kane and Ian.”
Mr Carr said he launched the fundraising campaign to ease the burden on Mr Hussey’s family at a very sad time.
People can support the effort by visiting justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mark-carr-1