Frank Bruno Foundation centre nears completion

Published: Tuesday, 03 November 2020

Work is set to start on fitting out the UK’s first Frank Bruno Foundation centre after businesses and volunteers rallied around to make the project possible.

During the daytime, the Foundation will use the former Standens Barn Community Centre to provide 12-week courses for those with mental health issues.

In the evening it will become a boxing gym offering health and fitness opportunities for some of Northampton’s most vulnerable and deprived residents.

Boxing legend Frank Bruno has been heavily involved since his first approach to the town in April 2019, seeking a possible venue.

Cllr Anna King, Northampton Borough Council cabinet member for community safety and engagement, said: “The Foundation was referred to my colleague, Cllr Brandon Eldred, who agreed to try and find an appropriate building.

“Several options were explored, and Standens Barn Community Centre proved the best in terms of position and potential.

“We and our colleagues at Northampton Partnership Homes have worked closely with the Foundation ever since to ensure all possible support was available to make this project a success.”

The Council agreed a lease for the building in November last year, on a peppercorn rent, and shortly afterwards Northampton family building firm A Ainge & Sons agreed to help on the project.

Since then, they’ve provided £28,000 worth of labour and around 25 other local companies have chipped in with labour and materials with a total value of £60,000.

Mike Kay, Northampton Partnership Homes Chief Executive, said: “The response from our contractors when we asked them to support this project was remarkable.

“We know from our work in the eastern district how much young people in this area will benefit from Frank’s boxing gym, which would not have progressed this far without the hard work and generosity of local businesses.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the gym open and thriving when the COVID situation allows.”

Steffans Jewellers created bespoke boxing glove pendants to raise money for the project and last week handed over cheque for more than £5,000 from the proceeds.

Frank Bruno said: “This is about so much more than just the gym, during the day people will be able to come down, speak to somebody about their issues and use the equipment if they want to.

“Mental health issues can happen to anyone and it’s really important that they get help to tackle that. I really believe that exercise and training is a big part of the right approach.”

Building work at the centre is now complete and the site is being cleared ready for installation of the flooring, boxing ring and gym equipment.

Cllr Eldred said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work on this initative which will be an extremely valuable asset to the community.

“The next big job is to start the fundraising effort in earnest, to help ensure the project is sustainable and can continue to provide support for people long into the future.”

Anyone interested in supporting the foundation’s work can email [email protected] providing details of how they can best be contacted.