Boxing coaches are aiming to help young people in the upper Calder Valley to punch above their weight when it comes to seizing chances in life.
Weekly sessions at Hebden Bridge Boxing Club at Salem Mill are starting next month with a view to encouraging and supporting youngsters.
Girls and boys aged from 10 to 19 are being invited to the club on Thursday, March 7 for an hour-long boxing taster session between 4.30pm and 5.30pm.
If the event is successful weekly sessions will be held in which Clayton “Cass” Varey, who has run the boxing club in Central Street for the past four years, and his fellow coaches will teach young people boxing as a form of defence and keep them off the streets.
The club will be working with Positive Futures, a Calderdale-wide service run by the borough council, to boost young people’s confidence and self-esteem and offer them something constructive to do in the evenings.
Lucy Kelly from Positive Futures said: “We’ll see what response we get from the kids. There aren’t a lot of youth clubs round here and it’s better than them hanging around in the park drinking.”
Cass, who lives in Luddenden, got involved when, after working on building sites for 30 years, he switched career and now works at a residential care home for looked-after children.
He and fellow coaches Kate Dakers, who runs boxercise classes, Tony Standring and James Cowen run open sessions for both sexes on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7.30pm, Thursdays from 7pm and Sundays from 10am.
A success story to emerge from the club is 26-year-old Luke Keleher from Stainland, who has successfully defended his 69kg Yorkshire Champion title three times.
Cass said: “Luke is a role model. He has had a deprived upbringing and boxing has helped him out massively.”
Cass, who wanted to send the club’s condolences to the family of one of his former coaches, Gordon Jones of Halifax Star Boxing Club, who has died aged 84, said young people would be welcomed to the Thursday afternoon sessions.
Cass is pictured with (from left) Lucy Kelly from Positive Futures, Kate Dakers, care worker Dave Copping, Joe Kidder, Wes Baxendale and 69kg Yorkshire champion Luke Keleher.