A popular community boxing club in rural Northumberland is punching above its weight after winning funding for a new ring from a regional employer.
Druridge Bay Community Boxing Club was re-established four years ago by coach Peter Kirkwood, and now has around 60 members aged between seven and 60 years old from around the Druridge and Hadston area, with most of them being in their late teens.
The Club’s success convinced Northumberland County Council and Active Northumberland to build an extension to the Hadston Community Centre in which it is based in order to provide dedicated training facilities for its members to use.
As part of making the move into its new home, the Club had been looking for funding for a new boxing ring to replace its existing one, which had been cut down to fit into the Community Centre and would no longer be fit for purpose.
A £5,000 donation made by the Banks Group from its Banks Community Fund has enabled the Club to bring in the new ring it was looking for, which it is hoped will help to attract even more local people into its new gym, as well as giving boxers vital experience of what they’ll be facing in their fights.
Druridge Bay Community Boxing Club attracts up to 30 people to each of its twice-weekly training sessions, with costs kept as low as possible to enable the maximum number of people to take part.
Despite being far smaller than most of its peers across the region, it has produced a North East champion, and also numbers several female boxers within its ranks.
Peter Kirkwood says: “The Club has been very successful on the boxing front, but it’s about far more than that – for a lot of our members, we’re like a second family, and as well as working on members’ fitness and boxing skills, we’re focused on building the confidence and characters of young people who might come from difficult or deprived backgrounds.
“We also work especially hard on breaking down any barriers that exist between people who might not otherwise have anything to do with each other, and the time they spend in the gym together makes a big difference to the relationships they have outside the ring.
“While we’ve only previously had a relatively small training space up to now, it was always busy, and getting Northumberland County Council and Active Northumberland’s support in building us a new home was a real landmark for our continuing development.
“The cut-down ring wasn’t no longer suitable for our purposes, but we would have had to make do if Banks hadn’t stepped in, and their support is making a massive difference to what we can offer.
“Our boxers already win more fights than they lose, even though it’s often the case that the first time they’ve ever been in a full-sized ring is when they go to competitions, and our new facilities a big boost to their preparation for future fights, as well as a crucial factor in encouraging more people to take a look at joining us.”
Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Club has created a very special environment that brings clear benefits to local people on many levels, and we’re sure there are even greater things to come from this excellent community sports club.”
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 should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.