BRITAIN’S strongest man is backing Burnley manufacturing as a ‘force’ to be reckoned with as he bids to retain his title.

Laurence Shahlaei, who is able to bench press 210kg, or 33st, met with bosses at Gee-Force Hydraulics, which supplies products and training for industries including oil and gas, wind power, industrial in-plant and construction, to support its efforts at the forthcoming East of England Energy Group Conference. The 30-year-old, from Cheltenham, said the strength of the town’s manufacturing base and football team were things he could connect with.

He said: “I had a great trip up to Burnley.

“The town seemed like a really vibrant place and I was aware that manufacturing businesses and their suppliers are the backbone of the local economy, so I can understand why a growing business like Gee-Force are based here. Burnley is thought of as a place that punches above its weight.

“I can empathise with that, because at 6ft 2in, I’m not the biggest guy in strong man circles, but my focus on training and technique have made me Britain’s strongest man – like Burnley, I punch above my weight too”

Gee-Force Hydraulics is a privately owned, specialist supplier of hydraulic bolting and flange alignment and spreading equipment. The sponsorship deal will help support Laurence’s efforts to retain his title in the coming year and he’ll also be working with the business to promote their services.

In addition to its Burnley headquarters, in Farrington Court, the company also has premises in Great Yarmouth, which is at the heart of the East of England’s energy services sector, and is a specialist supplier of hydraulic torque wrench tools, as well as the hydraulic bolt tensioners and nut splitters.