A Northumbrian boxing club is ringing the changes, thanks to a grant of almost £4,000 from mining firm the Banks Group.
Ashington Amateur Boxing Club intends using the £3,866 donation to buy a portable 20ft square ring for use during its training sessions at the town’s Hirst Welfare Centre, as well as a new boxing bag, frame and other kit.
Set up in 2006 and run by a team of volunteers, the club has about 70 members aged from 11 to 60-plus.
It holds training sessions, costing £2.20 to attend, on Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays open to anyone, and club treasurer Rob Story is hoping the new equipment will encourage more people to go along.
He said: “Our philosophy is all about being as inclusive as possible, and to encourage everyone who comes through the door to learn more not just about boxing, but about the wider benefits of physical fitness.
“We often see a big character difference in young local members who live in a community that suffers from high levels of deprivation and unemployment, and the structure and confidence that being part of the boxing club can provide can help them achieve things that they might otherwise have thought were out of reach.
“The cost of our training sessions is kept very low to make taking part an affordable option for as many local people as possible, but that means that we don’t have money available to make large purchases like this.
“We would have simply have had to do without a ring if the Banks Group hadn’t stepped up with this generous funding, and it’ll make a big difference to the work we’re able to do.”
More than half the County Durham-based company’s 400 staff are currently employed at its Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mine sites near Cramlington, jointly contributing around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investment and supply chain orders.
It has donated about £800,000 to projects in Northumberland over the last decade via its community fund.
Jeannie Kielty, the Meadowfield firm’s development relations co-ordinator, said: “Sporting organisations like Ashington Amateur Boxing Club give their members a real sense of purpose in communities that face many other challenges, and the positive impact that its work has on both their fitness and self-esteem is very clear.”