A much-loved Bangor boxing club which has produced a string of Welsh champions has been saved from closure by a grant for desperately needed new equipment for its young members – thanks to cash confiscated from crooks.
The Maesgeirchen Boxing Club, previously the Bangor Club, which includes former Commonwealth Games silver medallist Dave Davies on its roll of honour, has been turning out Welsh champions for over 30 years.
But, according to local Gwynedd Councillor Nigel Pickavance, its existence was threatened by the expense of keeping up to date with the latest headguards and equipment.
Now a £2,500 grant from a special fund set up by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones will assure its future according to veteran trainer Brian ‘Bach’ Williams who looks after youngsters from the age of six up.
The former Royal Navy man has been at ringside for the club since 1995 and he said: “All the equipment changes because of new regulations and it’s very expensive but this will make sure we’re still here.
“Dave Davies still comes along to the club and he gives the lads a few tips and we’ve got a few good ones at the moment.”
Nigel Pickavance added: “Brian has just turned 70 but he takes the lads on training runs and he’s still the first up the steep hill near the clubhouse.
“He has run the club on bare bones and has won a number of awards for his services. He deserves something better because he’s brought through so many champions.
“The club is in a glorified shed and has a ring and some training equipment but it needs better headguards, gloves and punchbags and this grant will pay for upgraded equipment.
“Maesgeirchen is an area of deprivation, opportunities are limited for young people and if the club had had to close it would have had a massive negative effect so this grant has saved the day and we really can’t thank the Commissioner enough.
“I’ve seen some naughty kids go into that club and they’ve turned into model adults thanks to Brian and the self-discipline and the respect for themselves and others boxing gives them.”
The Your Community, Your Choice initiative is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018.
It is the fifth year of the awards scheme and much of over £160,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The scheme is aimed at organisations who pledge to run projects to tackle anti-social behaviour and combat crime and disorder in line with the priorities in Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan.
This year there are 14 grants totalling almost £40,000 given to support schemes by community organisations with an online vote deciding the successful applicants from among 35 projects submitted and almost 10,000 votes cast.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who jointly presented the awards with Assistant Chief Constable Richard Debicki, said: “I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects across north Wales for a sixth consecutive year.
“I recently launched my Social Value Policy which seeks to expand our support to local communities and ‘Your Community Your Choice’ provides me with an opportunity to do just that.
“This unique fund allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support and the response showed that communities can work together to make our public places safer.
“I have visited a number of last year’s successful projects and have been extremely impressed with the work done to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.
“Delivering Safer Neighbourhoods is one of my key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan and I am delighted that your organisations have developed projects that support this Plan.”
Assistant Chief Constable Richard Debicki said: “The funding which you have received has been made available by the Police and Crime Commissioner and through assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
“This is a particularly vital message as, through the professionalism of North Wales Police Officers and with the support of the Courts, we are able to hit the criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.
“This is the fifth year of Your Community Your Choice funding and during this time North Wales Police has recovered £2.3 million of cash and assets with £627,000 coming back to North Wales from the Home Office to support schemes such as this.
“It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good.”
PACT chairman David Williams added: “We are delighted that we can assist in the administration of this fund.
“I think the breadth of our grant giving right across North Wales, from the tip of the west to the furthest part of the east, really sends a strong message to communities to access this money, it’s there for them.
“Very appropriately, one of the conditions is that the people who apply for this money have to be doing something that combats anti-social behaviour or addresses crime and disorder in some way.
“The aims Your Community, Your Choice scheme also coincide with the objectives of the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan so it creates a virtuous circle.”
Bangor Boxing legend Dave Davies