• Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

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Blyth Boxing Club Looks To Build On Growing Community Impact With Gym Bathroom Refurbishment

Coaches and members of the Empire School of Boxing with (front, right) Jamilah Hassan of the Banks GroupCoaches and members of the Empire School of Boxing with (front, right) Jamilah Hassan of the Banks Group

A South East Northumberland boxing club sports club is ready to give its growing number of visitors an even better welcome after completing the refurbishment of its bathroom facilities.

The Empire School of Boxing in Blyth provides boxing and fitness coaching at its Cowpen Road premises, and currently has around 20 senior boxers competing at events both around the UK and overseas.

Alongside this, the club is offering an increasing number of community sessions which enable people of all ages who might be struggling with mental health problems, mobility issues, learning difficulties, physical health and addiction to get active in a safe and welcoming space.

With more and more people using the gym, the club had been looking at ways to improve its bathroom facilities, which were long overdue an upgrade, and had begun its own fundraising campaign to bring in the £15,000 required to do the job.

A £3,000 contribution from Blyth Town Council was added to the club’s own project funds, with a £5,000 grant from the community fund operated by North East property, energy and mining firm the Banks Group taking the club past its fundraising target.

Local contractors Richardson Bathrooms & Boilers were commissioned to carry out the required work, which has included fully tiling the bathrooms, fitting new toilets and wash basins, redecorating the adjoining corridor and installing new lighting.

Founded in 1992 by Les and Margaret Welch, who are still head coach and welfare officer respectively today, the Empire School of Boxing works to the ethos of producing good people first and good boxers second.

Several of its members have gone on to win representative honours, with local girl Savannah Stubley, who has been with the club since the age of seven, winning a bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and taking gold at the World Boxing Cup: GB Open in Sheffield earlier this year.

Wallsend-based Adam Olaore, who has trained at the club for the last four years, won both the English National Amateur Championships and the All-Africa Heavyweight Boxing Championships in Senegal last year, and will be representing Nigeria at the Paris Olympic Games.

The club’s entire ten-strong coaching team are qualified to England Boxing standard, with around 40 boys and girls aged between eight and 16 years old currently developing the skills they will need to eventually enter the boxing ring under the team’s watchful eye.

Saturday afternoon sessions for six to eight year-old ‘mini boxers’ are also offered, which focus on fitness, fun and physical activity.

Margaret Welch says: “Our focus has always been on using boxing and fitness as a way to boost the well-being of everyone who comes through our doors, whatever their needs may be, and we’re making more of an impact in this respect than ever before.

“The success that our boxers are enjoying is testament to their individual dedication and the skills of our coaching team, and it’s great to see them developing as people as well as sportsmen and women.

“Our community sessions are designed to help people changes their lives for the better, whether through getting fitter and healthier, building their confidence or helping them feel better prepared to tackle wider issues or situations in their lives.

“We try to keep our subs as low as possible, so that the gym remains accessible to everyone, and this means we don’t have much spare money for big projects like the bathroom refurbishment, which we knew was something that was becoming increasingly urgent.

“The generous support we’ve had in reaching our fundraising target has enabled us to get this work done far more quickly than would otherwise have been possible and we’ve already had lots of great feedback on it from our members and visitors.”

Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Les and Margaret’s long-term commitment to providing the best possible facilities for all the users of their gym and the passion they retain for the work they do is absolutely inspirational

“The Empire School of Boxing has a massive positive impact on their local community in many different ways, with young members learning about things like self-discipline and healthy eating while also developing their boxing skills, and we’re proud to be able to contribute to the improvements that have been made at the gym.”

The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.

Anyone from a community close to a Banks Group development who is interested in applying for funding from the Banks Community Fund should first contact the fund manager on 0191 378 6342 or via fundmanager@bankscommunityfund.org.uk before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.