A NEW boxing academy has opened in Hereford to help children and adults keep fit by taking up a new sport - but days after opening lockdown suspended activity.

There was an excellent turnout to welcome The City of Hereford Boxing Academy when it opened in Harrow Road, but the gym is now waiting for the all clear from Government to open its doors again.

Kelly Smith and Tony Chadwick formed the academy, a not-for-profit venture, aimed at providing opportunities for young people - although the gym will be open to everyone.

“We decided to open a boxing gym as both myself and my business partner Tony are so passionate about boxing - it’s a brilliant sport which develops discipline and fitness amongst many other skills," said Smith.

“We were aware of a real need here in Hereford for more opportunities, particularly for young people, so we wanted to give children and young adults somewhere to go instead of hanging around the streets.

“We had a hugely successful open day, a great turnout of people coming along to see what was on offer and were open every night the following week before the lockdown began, but we are now in a state of limbo.”

Smith was assisted with the legal aspects of opening the gym by James Jones, of Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors in Hereford, who arranged the lease on the building in Harrow Road.

“The academy is a great initiative and it’s just such bad luck that the coronavirus outbreak happened just after it opened,” he said.

“However, I know that Kelly and Tony are working hard to keep the academy in the hearts and minds of people during the lockdown, and we wish them well for the future.”

Smith added that they were determined to keep going until the gym could open again.

“During the lockdown we are trying to engage with as many people as possible so that when we open people will know where we are and what we offer,” she added.

“We have already had more than 1,000 likes on Facebook so are confident of a successful venture. We just hope we don’t have to wait too long.

“We are a totally non-profit gym and have had help from local businesses to help fund the opening. The plan is to work alongside schools to help build confidence and mental wellbeing through learning and participating in boxing as a sport.

“The academy will open five evenings a week and Saturday mornings offering different classes each day. The gym will be open to everyone over the age of five and we want to give children and young adults a safe place to go - whether that be training or volunteering.

“We have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and more information is available about the academy there.”