Wednesday, June 06, 2001
By B. Jeffers
The landscape of Westbridge town centre was forever changed yesterday morning with the official opening of “Cocked ‘n Loaded”, a gymnasium and fitness centre located in prime position on Williamson Memorial Park.
The gymnasium is the brainchild of Sean Hitchcock, son of local business magnate Dyson Hitchcock, whose accomplishments in football, rugby, and basketball (among others) have brought much prosperity to Westbridge Academy’s growing athletic prominence.
“We’re very proud of what Sean has achieved,” said Murray Hamilton, headteacher of Westbridge Academy. “His accomplishments have galvanised the students and we’ve seen a noticeable spike in interest in our extensive physical education programme thanks to his influence”.
The event, which attracted neighbouring businesses and keen gym enthusiasts alike, was also attended by local tycoon James Dickinson (pictured with Sean Hitchcock), who had this to say: “I’ve always believed in the maintenance of a healthy body and Sean’s motto of “Go big or go home” really resonated with me. You can be assured that I will be keeping my eye on this young man going forward”.
Sean Hitchcock, who led Westbridge Academy’s football team, the Westbridge Wanderers, to championship gold two years in a row, topped the leaderboards for most touchdowns scored in a season for the school’s rugby team, the Buccaneers, and has taken home trophies and awards for “Man of the Match” and “Most Valuable Player” ever since he first laced up his boots, beamed with pride as Cocked ‘n Loaded opened its doors yesterday. He vowed that the gymnasium would offer competitive, affordable membership plans, a variety of classes and facilities, and that he would be working closely with Westbridge Academy to help encourage the “next generation” of players. “Teamwork makes the dream work,” he said during my brief time with him. “When you’re the best you can be then good things are bound to happen”.
Hitchcock’s father, Dyson, who amassed his fortune on the stock market, was particularly proud of his eldest son. “This is a chance for Sean to grow both as a person and a businessman in his own right,” he said. “I’ll be taking a very hands-off approach to the gym; it’s his baby [emphasis mine] and I’m just happy to be here to witness its birth”.
The gymnasium has caused something of a stir amongst some in the community, who find its name to be vulgar, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of youngsters and enthusiasts from signing up and, judging by the crowd in attendance yesterday, it seems that this unique branding has paid off for Westbridge’s most valuable player.