THE vision of former professional boxer Martin ‘Paddy’ Brennan has been praised by high-profile visitors, writes CHRIS PLANT.

Paddy, who used to run Tenbury Amateur Boxing Club, has opened The Bluestone Centre at his home in Bleathwood.

Harriet Baldwin MP and police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore and his deputy Barrie Sheldon have also visited the boxing and fitness centre.

The centre is offering children and young adults the chance to gain recognised qualifications to get them back into the workplace or education system, as well as teaching them the art of boxing.

“I always wanted to help kids who had been to prison, or look like they could end up there, and now it’s taking off,” said Paddy.

“We are trying to rehabilitate kids who have been written off and have left school with no qualifications.

“We have some kids that can’t even read or write. I have been boxing since I was eight years old, and on the estates I grew up on, if I wasn’t boxing, who knows what would have happened to me? Boxing saved me.

“Offering kids the chance to gain qualifications and teaching them responsibility and social skills with boxing, we’re aiming to get kids back into work or colleges.”

The Bluestone Centre is now accredited with the ASDAN qualification, a charitable organisation with awarding-body status, and is also a National Open College Network (NOCN)-accredited centre offering young people qualifications in life skills and personal development.

Mr Brennan adds: “I do a lot of work with police officers from Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire and take kids to try and save them from themselves.

“I also work closely with probation services trying to help kids that show promise and just need some guidance. We are trying to get even more local authorities to help us.”

Paddy said: “I am really thankful for everyone’s support and it was great to see Mrs Baldwin and Mr Longmore getting active.”

He added: “Support from those sorts of people will be crucial towards what we are trying to achieve.”

Meanwhile, George Sloan has been crowned boxer-of-the-year in the club’s awards evening at the Shamraj Restaurant.

Sam Holroyd, one of the young boxers who achieved Outstanding Boxing Excellence, also picked up an honour last Friday.

Other awards winners: Outstanding Coaches, Pat Sloan and Liz Boland; High achievers: Hannah Sergent, Caroline Jones, Elizabeth Williams, Alice Waite.