The temporarily homeless Ashton Albion Amateur Boxing Gym are keeping in fighting shape thanks to Active Tameside.
The historic boxing club had to vacate their former home earlier this year due to development and quickly found new premises in the heart of Ashton. However, the new gym needs plenty of work done to it and in the meantime the clubs boxers still need to train.
As a result, Active Tameside have stepped in to fill the void and offered the club one of their rooms at iTrain gym in Dukinfield.
“It was a Facebook advert that I saw” said the Chairman of Active Tameside, Cllr John Taylor. “Wayne had announced that he’d had to move from the Albion in Ashton because they were developing the site and he needed a new home.
“I contacted Wayne by phone and said how can I help? I went to meet him, realised that he’s got a serious problem on his hand and needed alternate premises.
“Its a temporary measure, because he hasn’t got his premises ready yet and its not going to be ready for a while. He’s been battling against the odds to get money, it hurts me to see how he’s struggled to get money.
“We’ve managed to get him small amounts but thankfully he’s now getting some sizeable amounts of money which means he can now develop that club.
“He’s taking thirty kids off the street and teaching them discipline, he’s doing a fantastic job. He’s just a volunteer, he needed support so when I knew that the season was starting for him and he needed a gym we offered him the facilities here for the group until he’s ready.”
Wayne Heywood is the head coach at the gym, and says that while work is ongoing, it’s taking its time. He’s currently waiting for electricity to be restored to the gym so they can carry on work.
A recent inspection from Sport England estimated that it would take £200,000 to overhaul the premises. However, Wayne gives a more conservative estimate of £30,000 - £40,000 to get themselves up and running. Thankfully, the club have recently received a cheque for £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. He said: “At this moment in time things are really on hold because we don’t currently have any electricity supply so I cant move forward.
“Active Tameside have kindly offered us this place to keep us ticking over. I don’t want to lose the kids and these guys don’t want to lose them either.
“John’s been with me from the word go really and has been a big help.”
Wayne says he’s hopeful the new gym will be ready soon to continue the good work they do with young people. “I’ve been doing it for a long time but I’m not a miracle worker” said Wayne.
“They’re off the streets, they’re not standing on corners drinking. There’s the firework issues we’ve had recently and stuff like that, knives, stabbings. My aim is just to point them in the right direction.”
Chris Rushton is the Chief Executive of Active Tameside and visited the club last Thursday [5 September] to see the children’s progress. He said: “Although active Tameside operate a number of gyms, iTrain is adults only but we do have some space downstairs and we were able to make that available to Wayne and the club and we were proud and privileged to do so.
“The world of sport is absolutely underpinned and supported by volunteers such as Wayne. Parents are often involved. There’s absolutely no doubt, whether it’s Albion boxing or otherwise, if there wasn’t that level of support then many clubs would go to the wall.”