Jail is no bar to prisoners lending a helping hand at the gym

Bruce Durham and John Kelly with some of the weight lifting equipment they were given by Acklington Prison.
Bruce Durham and John Kelly with some of the weight lifting equipment they were given by Acklington Prison.

A BOYS’ club has joined forces with a local prison to replace its ageing gym equipment – with training sessions given by prisoners thrown in for good measure.

HMP Northumberland donated the kit to Amble Boys’ Club, which is a registered charity, after a special agreement was drawn up to benefit both parties.

In return, prisoners who are qualified gym instructors will teach circuit classes, which will help with their integration back into society, as well as building self-esteem.

The partnership was spearheaded by Amble businessman and club committee member Bruce Durham, of Premier Corporate Training Services Ltd, who contacted Keith Borthwick and Steve Cullen at the prison.

Local builders Kelly Construction provided manpower, along with prisoners, to move all the new kit to the gym.

Bruce said: “The Boys’ Club is a not-for-profit organisation based in Amble and offers a location for local people to take part in activities, which are all ran by volunteers.

“The centre offers circuit training, kids’ play groups, dance classes, a small gym, youth clubs and disabled adult learning. Any money that is raised goes straight back into the ABC for the upkeep and maintenance of the building.

“The gym has been running for a good 40 years – some of the kit was roughly that old – and we were looking to obtain any equipment that could be utilised in a gym environment. This is where the prison stepped in.

“Hopefully, by obtaining the new machines and weights, we will be able to attract more people to the gym, which is money that can be then spent on offering further services to the people of the local community.”

Bruce recently secured a £2,000 grant from Northumberland County Council which enabled the club to purchase circuit training equipment.

But he added: “The kit the prison has donated is all heavy duty and fantastic quality and includes the only cable cross-over machine in Amble, bench press, shoulder press, rowing machines, steppers, a spin bike, a large amount of free-weight discs, cross-trainers, a small trampoline and a preacher arm-curl bench.

“With the amount of cardio kit that there is now available, the Boys’ Club will now be able to offer a cardio room that can be offered to women, as well as men.” A membership for the Boys Club costs from £150 per year (conditions apply) and all new memberships can be gained by contacting Peter Withey on 07902 500 868.

Memberships can only be bought by the end of January, but due to the size of the gym, membership allocations run out quickly so it’s a first-come, first-served basis.