Former Leisure World employee and current member, Lewis Richardson, will be holding a one-off boxing masterclass with local teenagers as part of the Active Essex Foundation Box Smart initiative.
Lewis, who won a bronze medal in the men’s middleweight boxing at this year’s Commonwealth Games, worked at Leisure World between 2016 and 2020, and is still a member, regularly using the facilities on site. Lewis has also just claimed a gold medal at the Tammer Tournament, in Finland, along with the Best Technical Boxer of the Tournament award. He will hold a one-off session with teenagers already enrolled onto the Box Smart programme on Wednesday, 16 November at 4.30pm, at Leisure World Colchester.
The Box Smart project is designed to give young people the opportunity to learn the techniques and disciplines of boxing, whilst informally covering topics around risk taking behaviours, ASB and consequences, substance misuse and how to stay safe in the community. For local children aged 13 to 15, those taking part can enjoy sporting sessions to increase fitness, meeting new people, as well as developing skills in teamwork, motivation, and collaboration. The project is a partnership between Colchester Borough Homes, Active Essex Foundation, Safer Colchester Partnerships, Alresford Boxing Club, and the Youth service.
Suzanne Page, Sports and Youth Crime Prevention project lead for the Active Essex Foundation, said: “It’s been great to be able to work in collaboration with the ABC Boxing club and North-Essex Youth Service to deliver a targeted youth intervention course to young people. Sometimes it can be hard to keep young people’s interest when we are trying to deliver key messages around crime reduction and keeping safe in their community, but sport bridges that gap. Providing BoxSmart sessions gives the opportunity for us to speak to young people in a language they understand and engage them in pro-social activity, guidance and education. The engagement by the young people has been fantastic and we can already see positive outcomes. A second course will be running in Tiptree early next year.”
Lewis said: “As someone who grew up in Colchester, it’s amazing to be able to take part in a project like this. Focusing on sport can have such a positive effect on young people, as it has me, and I’m delighted to be able to share my skills and experience to hopefully have a positive influence on others.”
Philip Sullivan, Colchester Borough Homes Chief Executive, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Box Smart participants getting stuck into this fantastic project, and it’s a privilege to have Lewis join us and offer his support.
“Projects such as this make a real positive impact on both local communities and individuals.”
Lewis wasn’t the only local athlete with links to Leisure World and Colchester Sports Park to achieve success this year. Laura Stephens, a member of Colchester Swimming Club, who use Leisure World’s fitness pool, took a silver medal in the Women’s 200m Butterfly at the Commonwealth Games. Jodie Taylor, who trains at Colchester Sports Park, also won a national junior sprint cycling title this year. Leisure World and Colchester Sports Park are looking for opportunities to work with Laura and Jodie in the future, with the hope of being able to inspire more local people across the borough.
Cllr Adam Fox, Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “Having two successful athletes in this year's Commonwealth Games and another winning the national junior sprint cycling title, who are local and using our facilities at Leisure World and Colchester Sports Park, is just fantastic. What’s even better is being able to work with these people to inspire young people to get active and use sport to focus on both their physical and mental health, which is so very important.”
Pictured above: Lewis Richardson with former and current Leisure World staff members.