It has been 18 months in the planning, but last Friday night the doors of the United Reform Church were thrown open to the public to reveal the new Galashiels Boxing Club.
Situated in the town’s Union Street, the building, which has stood derelict for the last six years, now boasts a selection of state-of-the-art training equipment as well as a 16ft training ring.
And as far as the people behind the project are concerned, the club will provide a shedload more than just boxing training.
The idea of installing a new club came from boxing father and son pugilists, both Danny Kelly, who wanted to create an affordable gym for locals. Backed up by former Scottish champion Malky Gowans, now president of the Galashiels club, boxing coaches Jim Gow and Jim Doris, and their wives, Carrie and Gina, Sadie Kelly and a whole host of others, the determined group secured possession of the church building with the backing of minister Leslie Morrison. Funding from Clubsport Ettrick & Lauderdale and the Rowan Boland Trust provided soft-tiled flooring, while Borders Sport & Leisure Trust was also on hand, with Mark Foryth advising on grant funding.
Danny snr told The Southern: “The idea was there, the ambition was there, we just needed the people on board to make it work.
“We are absolutely delighted with the end result and so grateful to all those people who have helped get us there. It has been a real community effort and now we are ready to pay back that community by giving them a boxing club they can be proud of.”
It took much hard graft, free labour, expertise and a £7,000 lottery grant to make it happen, but on Friday night the venue was officially opened with former British, European and WBO champion Alex Arthur performing the honours, along with moderator of the United Reformed Church John Humphreys and 2013 Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania in support.
“If this place can’t inspire the young people to take up boxing, then nowhere can,” said Arthur.
“It’s one of the best boxing facilities I have seen in Scotland and you can see from the amount of people who turned out for tonight’s opening how much it means to the local community.”
Danny snr, who works within the criminal justice social work department, agreed with the Scottish boxing legend and strongly believes that the club can do a lot more than produce top-class boxers.
“It brings people in off the streets, gives them focus and something to do, and can help a multitude of health problems, too,” he added.
“If you could do something like this in every town in the country, imagine the benefits it would bring to the health service, reducing unemployment and crime, not to mention reinstating a dwindling community spirit.
“It can only be for the good all round.”
Training sessions at the club run three days a week, with ladies from 6.30-7.30pm on Mondays and Thursdays, followed by men from 7.30-8.30pm, and juniors on a Friday (6.30-7.30pm).
Keep up to date with all the latest info on the club’s Facebook page, Galashiels Boxing Club.