Soaring power bills left West Auckland Amateur Boxing Gym firmly on the ropes until one of its sponsors offered a helping hand.

Bishop Auckland-based ft electrical services carried out £1,500 worth of work free-of-charge to ensure the community facility can reduce its overheads.

The firm, run by Billy Teesdale and Steven Ferguson, supplied and fitted six economical electric wall panel heaters and replaced the building’s ineffective lighting, replacing it with an efficient LED system.

The gym had already resorted to turning its previous outdated and costly heaters off in a bid to reduce spiralling energy bills.

Billy heard of its plight and offered to provide the heating and lighting systems and install them for free.

He said: “ft electrical services already donates £500 a year to support this fantastic facility and I’m happy to lend a hand to ensure it continues to be a safe and welcoming place for the area’s youngsters to come.

“I’m a huge fan of the sport and I know the physical and mental wellbeing that boxing training offers, it gives kids a real sense of worth and self-belief.

The gym was founded in early 2020 during the first lockdown by Steven Nicholson, managing director of Bishop Auckland-based painting and decorating firm S Nicholson and Sons, and head coach Ernest Spowart.

However, the gym, which now has 20 junior and 15 senior members, continues to rely on donations and sponsorship from local businesses and organisations.

Stephen Nicholson said: “The old electrical heaters were costing a small fortune and it reached the stage where we had no option but to switch them off. It’s not too bad this time of year, but we were concerned what would happen this winter.

“We only charge our members £2.50 per session, which doesn’t cover all the costs, but given the hard times we’re in, it’s not fair to ask more.”

Ernest Spowart added: “Everyone connected with the gym is extremely grateful to Billy and ft electrical services for their ongoing support and generosity in helping keep our costs down.”