Coaches at a thriving boxing club are hoping to see even more youngsters pulling on the gloves after winning funding for a second training ring.
Newbiggin Community Boxing Club runs daily training sessions for juniors and seniors, and has produced many national boxing champions since it was first set up in 1986, including recent female National Schools Championship winners and Three Nations champions Courtney Scott and Alex Brown.
But its popularity meant that the training facilities were always very busy, with the growing number of members making it difficult for everyone to get as much practice time as they wanted.
Now, thanks to a £4,500 grant from the Banks Community Fund, the club has bought a second training ring, along with a dozen pairs of sparring gloves and 10 pairs of competition gloves.
Club secretary Raymond Scott, former secretary of the British Amateur Boxing Association, said: “Our coaching team has been flat out for as long as we can remember trying to give everyone the training experience that they need to progress within the facilities that we’ve been able to offer up to now.
“Having this second ring available will make an immense difference to the way in which we’re able to work, to the speed at which our boxers can keep developing their skills and fitness levels, and hopefully to the results that we get in competitions. The Banks Group’s support will make an invaluable contribution towards our continuing development.”
He added: “Keeping the club’s finances on an even keel is always a challenge for us, and the money we would have needed to spend to buy this new ring would have been well beyond what was possible.”
The club has more than 50 boxing members, aged between eight and 40, and also hosts a large number of non-boxers visitors at its fitness sessions.
Many of its members are second generation boxers who have followed their fathers into the club’s ranks, while all the members of its experienced coaching team previously represented it as boxers themselves.
Later this month, Courtney Scott will be heading to Bulgaria to represent England in the European Junior Championships.
The club, which is entirely self-funded and volunteer-run, is aiming to widen participation in the area, as well as to improve the experience of participants in the sport, and it is expecting to see a further surge in visitor numbers as a result of the increased training capacity it now boasts.
Raymond said: “We try to create an atmosphere in which everyone that comes to us develops just as much as a person as they do as a boxer, and we’ve had lots of examples of shy, insecure young people growing in self-confidence and belief thanks to the encouragement and support they get here.”
Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at the Banks Group, said: “A huge amount of time, dedication and expertise goes into making the Newbiggin Community Boxing Club the inspiring organisation that it is, and we’re looking forward to hearing even more success stories coming out of the Club in the future.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding can contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 3786342 to check if their group or project is eligible.