Adrian Tuitt - Still Running!

The Runner

Nicknamed ‘The Runner’ at school, that nickname has stuck and Adrian Tuitt has been moving fast ever since! His work started with motivating young people as a sports coach but has now become a much wider message to youth.  Adrian understands that being young in the 21st century comes with a lot of pressure and he knows how easy it is to be knocked off course by life events.  Adrian’s message is to believe in your dreams and never give up the fight to succeed.  This is his story.

Born in Hackney, Adrian is the first to admit that the area he lived in had its own unique toxic environment.  So much so that his parents, after being subject to a burglary, decided to move the family. At that time Hackney had the gruesome nickname ‘the murder mile’ and with a young family, Adrian’s father knew that they would have to move.  The family  did not move far but Adrian remembers that they felt safer.  Even so, Adrian says that he had seen the worst that the streets had to offer from a fairly young age, with robberies, stabbings and violence all too common.

School proved to be a challenge for Adrian. After Tyssen Primary School in Hackney he was sent to Haverstock Secondary School in Camden. Being unable to go to school in Hackney, Adrian’s parents were worried about how he would fit in. Would the boys from that part of London tolerate an impostor from Hackney? 

Turns out Hackney itself provided Adrian with protection. Its reputation meant that nobody wanted to take on ‘the boy from Hackney’. Adrian was not academic while his brother and sister were, but while books were not for him, Adrian discovered that sport definitely was!  And he was really good at it.  He found himself at a crossroads. Would he join in with other boys of his age and pursue a life in gangs or would he go on and improve his skills in sports?  Luckily for him and for us Adrian chose sport!

Adrian left school without any qualifications. Where sport was concerned, however, it was a very different story and Adrian managed to get into college to do a sports science coaching course. Adrian worked really hard and managed to get the grades to allow him to join a degree course at Luton University.  However, the uni course turned out to be heavy with theory and light on actual hands-on experience and so, after a year, Adrian gave it up.  His family were not at all happy that he had wasted the opportunity, but Adrian just knew that he was not on the path he was supposed to be on. 

Keeping it real

Having ideals is one thing and actually living day-to-day is another and Adrian soon realised he needed to get a job of some sort. His sister got him a job stacking shelves in Waitrose, where she worked, and he used the money to taking driving lessons and a driving licence that he and his friends called ‘a pinkie’, after failing ten times!  He also bought a car because he was never going to be kept down for long. Once again, Adrian just knew that this was not what he was supposed to be doing so, without a backward glance, he walked out of Waitrose, never to return!

The idea of coaching young people in sport had never left Adrian and he started to look online for any opportunity he could find. Eventually he found one and was invited to take a session as a trial.  Adrian recalls what happened:

“I lost the whole group within a minute! The kids were running around the place, fighting and shouting and I was told that I was no good at coaching and that I would have to practise and come back when I knew what I was doing! It stung, but they put me in touch with an experienced coach, Ross. He and I became good friends and I shadowed him for six weeks learning the ropes of coaching.”

When Adrian next taught at the Wyvil Primary School in South London, he did really well.  He has always been grateful to Christopher Toye, the head teacher, who gave his first opportunity. It was not long before Adrian realised that he could start his own company delivering PE sessions after school. His decision did not receive massive encouragement from his friends. ‘Nobody from our group has their own company!’  ‘What are you thinking?’  ‘Be realistic!’

But there was no stopping Adrian, because ‘the runner’ was ready to take his new idea and run with it!  But first, there was the little matter of what to call his company –  ‘The Little Runners’ Sports in Schools was born.

Adrian admits it he did need to deal with some issues around anger management at this time that he knew were affecting his business and private life.

The Little Runners – Sports in Schools

Like everything Adrian turns his hand to, after a lot of hard work, seven-day weeks and 10 years of effort, ups and downs, The Little Runners, Sports for Schools was a success and it was then that Adrian started to think that he wanted to offer something for children that was more mental than physical.  He decided he would be a motivational speaker. When he was struggling, Adrian’s father had given him some tapes featuring motivational speaker, Les Brown. The seed was sown and Adrian remembers one other incident that prompted his change of direction.

“I was in Tottenham and I got surrounded by around 20 boys. They pulled out a gun and robbed me. I wasn't even scared at the time, I didn't cry, I just knew I couldn't do anything at the time so I just left, I didn't even tell my boys because I knew they would want to come back to Tottenham to settle the score. I just said to myself, I don't want to be that person - although I could have gone either way - being a madman and causing craziness or using the situation to grow.”

Adrian knows that feelings of hopelessness about the future can make the idea of joining a gang attractive to young boys, especially as it offers a way to make money, gain status and feel part of a family. His way had been to centre his life around sports,  and Adrian was determined to show them that there could be a different way.

Against all the odds, and even against the criticism of his peers who, when he wanted to buy a property, told him he was too young and that no one else owned a property, Adrian was always going to do it his way – and he has!

Still Running!

Adrian has appeared on many different forums being interviewed about the work he does with young people. His aim is to show young people that there is a different path to take. With knife crime at almost epidemic proportions in our inner cities, Adrian knows that the struggle is an uphill one. His influence and determination, and his own story have motivated countless young people and he is only just getting going!  Young people relate to him, because he was them!

Adrian is a man who has never done things by halves, and he has never taken no for an answer, so watch this space!

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