A pioneering scheme to help armed forces veterans keep in shape has been launched in Middlesbrough.
The national scheme will seeing boxing sessions for former and current service personnel rolled to ten gyms across England.
And first into the ring was Greens Amateur Boxing Club (ABC) in Middlesbrough which welcomed five veterans for a taster session.
They’re hoping to spread the word and get up to 20 members to sign up for the free sessions.
The initiative – funded by England Boxing – will see up to 200 joining the weekly non-contact sessions across the country.
Al Turley, a qualified boxing coach at Greens ABC, said the aim was to improve participants’ physical and mental well-being.
The sessions are also a chance to engage with others who may have had similar experiences, help them adjust to civilian life or just enjoy some social interaction.
Al said: “It’s chance for them to get in the ring with an activity that is great for both their physical and mental well-being.
“It’s non-contact, so the sessions won’t cost them anything other than time and sweat.
“It’s not about getting hit, it’s about getting fit – and absolutely everybody is welcome, regardless of age, ability or experience, and the sessions can be adapted for those with some form of injury.
“The aim is to make it as accessible as possible, so come on down and give it a go.”
The sessions are split into an hour’s boxing followed by a 30-minute slot for refreshments and socialising.
Middlesbrough Mayor and Armed Forces Champion Chris Cooke said: “Boxing is a great discipline that encourages the maintenance of physical and mental health.
“These non-contact sessions are not only an opportunity to keep active but a social outlet to meet like-minded people.”
• The non-contact boxing sessions in Middlesbrough run every Wednesday from 4.30pm to 6pm Greens ABC, Unit E Maxwell Road, Middlesbrough TS3 8TE
All coaches are England Boxing qualified and DBS checked.
Veterans are also invited to attend an Armed Forces Breakfast Club on the first Saturday of every month from 10am at Connections Community Cafe (131-133 Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 5DE).
The club helps veterans and serving armed forces personnel to meet face-to-face in a relaxed, safe, social environment to enjoy breakfast and banter.