An inspirational boxing coach who is the driving force behind Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club has been made an honorary Freeman of the Borough of Tamworth.
Alan Keast was officially awarded the honour in a ceremony at Tamworth Town Hall on Friday.
Alan has been the boxing club’s figurehead for the past 25 years. As well as coaching, he works with young people to help them back into education, through a structured support programme involving classroom work at the club’s Cornerpost Education Centre. He has also developed a qualification programme based on boxing techniques and skills.
Alan supports vulnerable young people and providing education to youngsters who have been – or are on the verge of – being excluded from school. Working with the youngsters and the pupil referral unit at Kettlebrook, Alan helps them to get back on track and work towards passing their exams. Many then go on to further education at Torc or into apprenticeships.
In October 2012, Tamworth Boxing Club moved from its former base on Amington Industrial Estate to a purpose-built gym in Orchard Street in Tamworth town centre.
The gym cost £105,000 to develop and received a £48,000 contribution from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Funding. The coaching and classroom sessions are run by Alan and a team of volunteers.
Tamworth Borough Council Chief Executive, Anthony Goodwin, said: “The Council has been pleased and proud to have been associated with Alan and Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club over the years.
“It is a relationship that dates back to when the Council provided a last-minute home for the club when it was forced from its original base. Since then, the Council has supported the club in various ways, and some staff have done so in their own time.
“The impact that Alan and his team have had on local young people has been phenomenal. This really is a great example of localism – with local people working hard to help local people.”
The latest award comes just weeks after all four of Tamworth’s service organisations – the Royal British Legion, Royal Naval Association, Mercian Regimental Association and Royal Air Force Association – were awarded the Freedom of the Borough, as well as former Staffordshire Regiment mascot Watchman V, his handler, WO2 Greg Hedges and their successors.
Roll of honorary freeman:
1951: Frederick George Allton – outstanding service to the borough over a period of 50 years. During which time he served as a member of the borough council for 40 years, Alderman for 17 years and Mayor in 1913.
1955: George Henry Jones – councillor and alderman for 35 years. Served as Mayor in 1932 – 1933 and supported projects for the benefit of Tamworth and residents.
1959: Henry Wood – valuable services as town clerk for 30 years and safeguarding the town’s history and heritage.
1977: Philip Dix – recognition of his services to the community as a member of the council since 1958, leader of the council 1967 – 1977 and as Mayor in 1963.
1983: Hubert Brian Leake – services to the community as an officer, town clerk and chief executive.and a valuable contribution to the future success and prosperity of the borough
2007: Ron Cook – in recognition of his valuable services a councillor for 32 years, including Leader of the Council and mayor in 1977. He also instigated the twinning agreement with Bad Laasphe in 1980
2009: Alec Benwell – recognition of services to the borough as mayor’s sergeant and civic officer for 26 years and offering dedication and support in every aspect of mayoral and civic life.
2009: Terry Dix – services to the borough as a councillor from 1967 to 1992, Mayor in 1980 – 1981 and county councillor between 1981 and 2009.
2011: David Weatherley – former chief executive, Tamworth Borough Council. Recognition of his services to the borough council.
2014: Alan Keast – in recognition of his services to the community with Tamworth Boxing Club.