Chippenham’s Emeralds seek help to secure new home
September 12, 2020 | by Matt Halfpenny
Emeralds Boxing Club, Chippenham are desperately seeking a new venue to call home so they can turn their dreams into a reality.
The club has up to 30 carded boxers and plenty more recreational members who train at their current base in the former West End Club on Audley Road.
But after the social club closed down and the landlord changed, club founder and Head Coach Liam Lathbury has been quoted £48,000 as the price for annual rent.
It is a price the boxing club cannot afford and while they have initially negotiated to stay at the premises until Christmas, they need to find a new site thereafter – or risk closure.
Lathbury has long-term plans to develop the club as a community hub and run a project to help out youngsters who have got into trouble at school.
But Emeralds can only play that role if they have a gym to operate from, which is why they are pleading to their local Wiltshire County Council for help.
“We just need a piece of land to build – we can do the rest,” said Lathbury, who started the club eight years ago and has helped produce boxers such as Eloise Edwards (pictured bottom) and Johnny Ward (pictured below), the latter who has now turned professional.
“I have big plans for the future to really move the club on, and do even more good work in the community, but this has hit us hard.”
“We’re happy to do much of the building work ourselves, with people linked to the club who do it professionally – and apply for the funding from Sport England and other funders – but we can’t do all that if we don’t have somewhere to start from.
“We are appealing to our local council to just provide us with a building, or land, we can use, as there are a number of empty buildings and vacant plots in the area. We are quite prepared to pay a reasonable level of rent, but we can’t afford what we would have to pay where we are based at the moment.”
Emeralds have already made appeals through local newspapers and broadcasters, but have been unable to secure an alternative venue moving into the New Year.
They are now planning to put together a petition to send to their local authority, both by going door to door and asking people to sign online.
Lathbury added: “The Club is an asset to the community and has already produced six national champions, but it’s not just about the champions.
“We’ve already helped kids who been excluded get back into mainstream school – and we want to do more like that.
“Boxing is at the heart and soul of what we do as a club, but if we can change the life of any kid who comes through our doors and they never put on a pair of boxing gloves, then that’s good enough for us.”
If you can help Emeralds, please contact 07717 858188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org