A chiropidist whose premises were destroyed by an early morning blaze which also gutted neighbouring businesses has set up shop in a nearby church hall.
Cummins Chiropody & Podiatry went up in flames last October when a blaze broke out in the neighbouring Malibu Tanning salon in Crawcrook, Gateshead.
The fire also badly damaged the tanning salon and the adjoining workshop for Globe Garage.
Owner Mike Cummins, who has more than 3,000 patients on his books, said he has been able to continue his business thanks to the goodwill of Clive Devonish, vicar of the nearby Holy Spirit Church in Front Street, Crawcrook.
“Clive was the first person to ring me after the fire, which completely destroyed my clinic in Jubilee Terrace. When he also offered me the use of the church hall I jumped at the opportunity. I have to keep out of the way when local groups such as the brownies or bible study classes need the church hall, but I don’t work on a Sunday which is obviously Clive’s busiest day.
“We joke that I save soles while he saves souls. I am very blessed to have been offered the chance to operate from the church hall”
Rev Devonish said: “Quite a few of my parishioners are patients of Mike. He does a wonderful job and I believe the church should spread into the community. Helping Mike out by allowing him the use of the church hall until his old premises are fit for purpose again is part of that commitment.”
Cummins is hopeful he will be back in the Jubilee Terrace property later this year.
His business numbers sports stars and soldiers amongst his patients, and young Newcastle Falcons rugby player Sean Brown credits him with helping to save his career.
Brown struggled with niggling injuries such as shin splints and ankle problems, and required specialist insoles to help his feet recover after pounding the hard ground regularly.
Cummins came to his rescue and treats him as often as is needed - and the two have built up such a strong relationship that Mike has agreed to sponsor Sean’s development in rugby union.
The Falcons star said: “Mike has been a massive influence on me over the past year, and I am chuffed he is supporting me as he has worked with some top athletes.”
The practice was first established in 1989, with Cummins working first from his home in Wylam, Northumberland, before moving to the Crawcrook premises.
He added: “Many patients have been with the practice since it opened and I am proud that I treat patients across the ages, from the very young to the elderly and infirm from all over the North East and beyond.
“I treat a wide range of conditions, from toe nail care to major sports injuries.
As well as treatment I also design and manufacture insoles. It is fairly unusual to do both but I believe it is vitally important for everyone to have the right foot support. The job is so satisfying that I can honestly say I have enjoyed every day of my 25 years in practice.”