SAVED BY THE BELL New home for Ashton Albion Amateur Boxing Club
Wednesday 16th January 2019 @ 16:26 by Lee Wild
Ashton News Sports

Ashton Albion Amateur Boxing Club has gotten up off the canvas following the knockout blow that they were to lose their Albion Mill home.

Founder and senior coach Wayne Heywood was given the devastating news just two weeks ago that they would have to vacate their current premises and began a desperate search for a new gym.

He appealed to the public of Tameside to help him find a new home after a quarter of a century on Penny Meadow.

Luckily for Wayne, he had a number of people in his corner who were looking out for him. Nick Worrall, of Ashton Quality Cars, put him in touch with Ashton-based businessman Mike Craven who had the perfect place for the community club.

Mike Craven, Wayne Heywood and Nick Worrall

The new space is located on Dean Street, close to the centre of Ashton in a space that’s roughly twice as big as their current home. The new gym will be located in the old Barrett and Co Mineral Water premises.

However, the hard work is just beginning for Wayne, who now needs to raise £30,000 to transform the building from a disused shell into a gym capable of developing the next generation of Tameside fighters.

Wayne described how quickly the agreement took place: “I went and met him (Mike Craven) virtually within a couple of hours of me ringing him and went and had a look around the premises. 

“They’ve been empty for between eight and 10 years so as you can imagine there’s no electric in, no gas in, it’s a bit of a tip but the potential is absolutely massive.”

The possibilities of the new location is huge for the club, but they need money and expertise to get it up and running. 

Wayne said: “I was begging for premises last time I was here and this time I’m begging for funding really. 

“I’ve had a few people who’ve jumped on board already.

“I’ve put my begging out on social media and the response has been fantastic, I can’t thank people enough. The objective now is to raise between £25-£30,000 and to sort these premises out. It’s a lot of money, I appreciate that, but I think it’s do-able.”

Despite the huge task ahead, Wayne is excited about what the move could mean for the future of the gym: “Id say it’s nearly double the size of the current place. It’s all on one level as well which is better because obviously where I am at the present I’ve got the ring on the top floor and my main gym is on the ground floor. This gives me chance to keep my eye on everyone now. I’m excited, it’s brilliant.

“At the moment I’ve got between 30 and 40 kids in. With the new property I can take even more in and I can do more classes than I do at the moment. It might make the wife happy, it might not because I don’t see her as it is!

“I’m excited because the potential is massive. The kids are getting excited now asking when are we moving in? It can’t just happen overnight, I wish it could.”

At a training session on Monday night the children said they were very excited about the move and told the Reporter how much they enjoy the sessions. 

Charlie Milligan, 13, said: “I enjoy it because it’s like a second family almost, it’s a good place to be. It keeps us fit and healthy and looking forward to the future. I think the new gym has a lot of potential and if we do end up raising a lot of money we can afford new equipment towards our training.”

Wayne leads the kids in a sparring session

The new premises need a complete overhaul including building the new ring, setting up the gym equipment and fitting out changing areas and toilets.

It will be a huge undertaking for Wayne, but he says he’s already had offers of help and donations coming in. 

“We are a voluntary organisation so we welcome anyone that’s willing to give us a hand,” he said.

“I’ve had inboxes saying give us a shout Wayne and we’ll jump in and give you a lift, but donations of anything are welcome. We’ve got to put toilets in – or renew them – you can understand what state it’s in. To be fair he’s had the roof done so it’s all dry.”

Former Manchester City footballer David White has donated a signed copy of his autobiography to help Wayne raise funds and he’s had people dropping off funds at Albion Mill as the community rallies behind him.

Nick Worrall from Ashton Quality Cars is also helping Wayne to source much needed funds for the new space. 

He’s hoping to put on a benefit night soon and told the Reporter: “We’re going to try and do a couple of functions, possibly – if I can get onto Tameside Council – get the Town Hall and I have a few friends that are quite good singers. Hopefully I’ll get on to them to do a fundraising do with charity auctions and things like that.”

Mike Craven owns the building that the gym is moving into and said it’s good to see the historic building back in use. 

He said: “I’ve owned the building for about 25 years or so. It used to be the old Barrett pop building in Ashton. I had a printing company originally in there. The upper floors have been empty for about seven or eight years. Like you do you store rubbish, but when Nick approached me it was the opportunity to give it a clear out.”

If you can help Wayne please get in touch on 07769 536 820 or 0161 339 2675 or donate online at JustGiving.com