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Suffolk: Have-a-go-hero builds dream business after drink drive incident left him out of pocket

PUBLISHED: 17:55 06 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:55 06 February 2013

Darren Summers, who has battled back after being a drink drive victim to open his new gym

Darren Summers, who has battled back after being a drink drive victim to open his new gym

Archant

A year ago Darren Summers hit the headlines when The Star reported on his courage in apprehending a drink-driver.

But he sustained damage to his own car in the incident with the uninsured motorist, which left him out of pocket to the tune of £8,000 – plunging his dream of opening his own gym into real doubt.

However, today the 41-year-old is really getting a kick out of life as he prepares to celebrate the first anniversary of the Darren Summers School of Martial Arts.

His business goes from strength to strength and has attracted hundreds of new members – and he has even got a few television contracts under his (black) belt.

Mr Summers, from Stowmarket, said: “We nearly lost the gym.

“It was due to open January last year but after the incident, it did not look like it was going to go through at all.

“However, thanks to a family member who used his life savings to help me, we got through it.”

In December 2011, Mr Summers and his wife were driving to his uncle’s home after a visit to the cinema when they noticed a car behind them.

The driver of the Citroen, Augustinas Karvelis, had his lights on full beam, and then passed at high speed along Bramford Lane, swerving across the road.

When the vehicle came to a stop, Mr Summers approached Karvelis, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, while his wife rang the police.

Karvelis rammed Mr Summers’s car in an attempt to flee the scene. Eventually, Karvelis tried to make a getaway on foot but Mr Summers managed to restrain him before making a citizen’s arrest.

Mr Summers said after shelling out for both insurance and a new car, the incident cost him around £8,000, which he had planned to plough into the business.

Mr Summer said: “This last year has been a struggle. I haven’t yet taken a wage from the business and at times I have thought ‘is it all worth it?’ But I set goals and I go out to achieve them.”

In the incident, Mr Summers suffered an injury to his hand. But he has not let that hold him back.

The Darren Summers School of Martial Arts, based in Whitehouse Road, Ipswich, now has around 200 members and holds a range of classes including kickboxing and self-defence.

In the last few months, Mr Summers has also been contacted by various television companies. He has been a referee for a fight on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, held a self-defence class for the stars of The Only Way Is Essex, and has a contract with a Sky to be a referee on a show called Lords of the Cage.

Mr Summers, who has been doing martial arts since he was eight years old, added: “I never thought I would open my own martial arts centre, and after the incident I didn’t even think I’d have my own business.”

A breath test showed Karvelis, of Kingston Road, Ipswich, was twice the legal drink-drive limit when he was nabbed by Mr Summers after a pursuit. He had 71 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 mcgs.

Karvelis was jailed for 24 weeks by Ipswich magistrates after admitting drink-driving, two counts of disqualified driving and driving with no insurance.

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