AN AMATEUR boxing club which is helping in a paralysed man’s recovery is celebrating after receiving a community grant of £2,500.
Bertie’s Caldicot Amateur Boxing Club in Monmouthshire is among the 82 groups in Gwent celebrating receiving a share of nearly £300,000 in cash seized from criminals which has been awarded from Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert’s Partnership Fund.
Based in the village of Sudbrook, the £2,500 grant will allow the club to purchase new boxing equipment so it can attract even more young people and people with disabilities to take part in their activities at the club.
One of the people certainly making the most of the new equipment will be 36-year-old Gareth Hughes from Chepstow. In May last year, Gareth was left paralysed and fighting for his life after breaking his back in three places when he came off his motorcycle and landed on a boulder on the road between Chepstow and Usk. He was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital in a critical condition where his heart stopped twice. He broke all of his ribs, punctured both lungs and spent six weeks in a coma. He was also treated for pneumonia meningitis. When he eventually woke up, the former doorman, who enjoyed playing rugby, had lost five stone and was told by doctors that he would never walk again.
Lucky to be alive, it’s a long road to recovery for Gareth. One of his goals in life has always been to take part in a boxing match. He has been supported in his recovery by training with 35-year-old amateur boxer, Martin Lewis, who runs Bertie’s Caldicot ABC. Martin, who has been awarded with an UK Disability Inclusion Training Certificate, is coaching Gareth at the club as part of his recuperation so that he can hopefully achieve his dream by taking part in a wheelchair boxing bout. Since training with Martin, Gareth, who was told that he would be paralysed from the chest down initially, has had sensation back in his core and has even managed to move his feet. He is determined and adamant that he will walk again.
Highlighting the important role Martin Lewis at Bertie’s Caldicot ABC gym has played, Gareth said: “I’ve known Martin for years. He’s been pushing me, helping me with my training and helping me to get strong again. I’m determined to walk again and I won’t let this beat me. This is the hardest fight I’ve ever had but it’s one I’m determined to win. The wheelchair bout is just another step on the journey and if I can inspire other people with disabilities to take part in boxing, then that’s a real bonus.”
Delighted with the funding from the Partnership Fund, Martin Lewis, who runs the club, said: “Boxing clubs like this make a massive difference in communities which are struggling with anti-social behaviour. We take young people off the street and let them throw their energies into boxing. This money will help us to buy more equipment so we can attract even more young people to the gym. I’m also qualified to coach people with disabilities and I want to attract more disabled people to make use of the gym and show them that boxing is for them as well. Gareth has proven that anyone can take part in boxing.”
Other Monmouthshire groups that the Partnership Fund benefits include 1st Chepstow Boy and Girls Brigade (awarded £1,000), 1st Wyesham Scout Group (awarded £500), Cross Ash Luncheon Club (awarded £500), Buckholt Indoor Community Bowls (awarded £1,000), Spirit of Monmouth Running Club (awarded £1,500), Chepstow Boxing Club (awarded £2,200) and Dingestow Short Mat Bowling Club (awarded £1,000).