Boxing school founders Les and Margaret Welsh honoured with Freedom of Blyth

A couple who founded a boxing school have been awarded the Honorary Freedom of Blyth.
Mayor Warren Taylor with Les and Margaret Welsh, who have been awarded the Honorary Freedom of Blyth.Mayor Warren Taylor with Les and Margaret Welsh, who have been awarded the Honorary Freedom of Blyth.
Mayor Warren Taylor with Les and Margaret Welsh, who have been awarded the Honorary Freedom of Blyth.

Les and Margaret Welsh launched the Empire School of Boxing in Cowpen 30 years ago.

They are famed for producing some brilliant sports men and women, including Commonwealth bronze medallist Savannah Stubley. But what many people might not know is that the pair have also opened up their home to children in need and fostered more than 40 youngsters.

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It was for this, as well as their role as boxing mentors, that Blyth Town Council decided to reward them with the Honorary Freedom of Blyth, the first time it has issued the title.

Upon receiving the award, Mr Welsh said: “We produce good people first and good boxers second.”

And thanking Mayor Warren Taylor and the council for its support over the past 30 years, he added: “Boxing is a hard sport. The nicest compliments come from coaches in the roughest areas [across the county] that

say ‘Your kids are so disciplined; how do you do that’?

“I’ll tell you. You treat them like human beings and talk to and listen to their needs. They all have a story and are all on a journey. Some may succeed in boxing, but if they don’t, they walk away better people.”

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Les is lead coach at the boxing school and Margaret is the welfare officer. At home, they are a support network for dozens of individuals they have guided together through good times and bad.

Mayor Taylor said, “It is a pleasure and an honour to acknowledge Les and Margaret Welsh as the first to receive the Honorary Freedom of Blyth award.

"Having visited the Empire School of Boxing and met with countless aspiring individuals who hold Les and Margaret in such high regard, it is easy to see the positive effect they have had on the lives of many in our community.

“The level of care and respect they show for others, to act as a moral compass and guide without expecting anything in return, is truly inspirational. The standards we set for such an accolade are so high that until now, we’ve not yet offered it. However, their lifetime service and commitment to the community, at work and home, is why Les and Margaret deserve such recognition."

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