The Story of Avenue Health: A Family-Run Practice Since 2007
The story of our practice is one of personal experience, hard work and, of course, family. Our route into osteopathy wasn’t obvious from the start, but we have come so far over the course of 16 years and wouldn’t change it for the world.
How it all started…
Our journey started off when Michael Walker, our Lead Osteopath and owner, used to co-own ‘Walker Brothers’ with his brother: a company which delivered vegetables, pitta bread and the like, mainly to kebab shops. They were known as ‘ekmekci’ or ‘bread men’ in Turkish, and it was lucky that Michael moved around so much in this job, to burn off all the free kebabs he received from his friendly clients!
However, as is common in delivery careers, Michael often ended up with backache, neck pain, and other minor injuries from lifting heavy boxes, plus driving for hundreds of miles each day. It was when his neck went into a spasm one day that Michael saw an osteopath for the first time. They clicked his neck and he instantly felt relief, and this treatment became a long-term solution to his future aches and pains.
Then, in 1998, Michael was involved in a skiing injury when another skier collided with him on the slopes. This resulted in a dislocated shoulder requiring surgery and treatment which gradually enabled him to get back to day-to-day life. Michael realised that without osteopaths, injuries like this – plus the pains he suffered in his delivery job -people would become debilitated and not be able to enjoy their lives to the fullest. This was a turning point for Michael and the moment he decided to venture into a new career in osteopathy.
However, the road wasn’t exactly easy. As Michael didn’t have any A-Levels, he was required to complete an Access Course (1 year of education to get him to the equivalent of A-Levels) as a mature student. He was then able to start the British School of Osteopathy course full-time and begin the challenging 4 years of training.
The course was very demanding; not everyone knows that osteopathy is the equivalent of a medical degree (without some of the detail). Michael also continued to work alongside his education. The ‘Walker Brothers’ enterprise continued, and he also helped to teach dance classes with his partner Lauren. A little-known fact about Michael is that he loves Salsa dancing, but can also treat you to a lively Rock n’ Roll Jive and a Line Dance!
Finally, in 2007, Michael graduated from the prestigious British School of Osteopathy. This was a major achievement for someone who worked throughout his degree and is also dyslexic. With Lauren alongside him, they set up a practice in their home, known as Avenue Osteopathic Practice. Lauren concentrated on the dancing and fitness side of the business and Michael was finally able to begin his career as a full-time osteopath. Although he didn’t receive nearly the same number of free kebabs as when he worked in delivery, Michael immediately loved the role and making a difference to people’s lives.
To gain further experience in the field, Michael worked at a multi-disciplinary practice in Hackney, working alongside massage therapists, physiotherapists, colonic hydrotherapists, reiki instructors, homoeopaths, and many other natural therapies. Soon, the exciting opportunity arose to purchase a practice in a GP centre in Selsdon, Croydon. It was here that he was able to take the best of everything he had learnt and create the quality, trusted business we have today.
Moving on and expanding!
In 2015, we changed our name to Avenue Health and our small team was joined by chiropractors, massage therapists and an acupuncturist. Our business was expanding, and a welcome side effect of this was that we didn’t have the mouthful of our previous name every time we answered the phone!
The ambition did not stop there though. As we had lived in the local area our entire lives, we were driven by a desire to help more people in our local communities. At the end of 2014, we found what was to become our Worcester Park station practice and officially opened in May 2015. Here we received a warm welcome, and still have fond memories of chatting to people from our stall on the Worcester Park high street that day, and even treating some passers-by!
Our latest practice opened in Surbiton in August 2021, and we were privileged to have the Mayor of Kingston-Upon-Thames officially open it. This was a very proud moment for us in our careers, we continue to gain great satisfaction from helping more people in our community out of pain and discomfort.
We are family!
Our team is a big family, especially as many of us know each other from outside the business too. Michael’s daughter Josephine followed in her father’s footsteps to become a qualified osteopath working for the business in 2016. Michael’s son, Anthony, also helps with the maintenance of the buildings, and even Josephine’s dog Mia is a friendly presence for our dog-loving patients!
In 2017 Lauren took the decision to merge her successful dance and Cardiac Rehabilitation and Pilates class business with Avenue Health, especially since she specialises in more health-related issues too. She also became a director and has a leading role in making sure everything runs smoothly in the background, alongside running her face-to-face and online exercise classes.
So here we are … Michael, Lauren and Josephine, surrounded by our wonderful associate osteopaths and reception staff. We love what we do, and invite you to live a life full of movement and free from pain.