Express & Star

Health and sports courses being launched at new Duncan leisure centre

Fitness courses and a cricket tournament will be hosted at an £18 million leisure centre in the Black Country to provide a boost to young people.

Trustee Mark Bloomer, trustee and GB boxer Niall Farrell and founder Bill Etheridge

Support Futures, a charity which helps people aged between 18 and 29, will run the events at the new Duncan Edwards Leisure Centre in Dudley.

The move, and charity, is being spearheaded by former Ukip MEP and Dudley councillor Bill Etheridge, who has stepped down from politics.

The 52-year-old, who is hoping to be a force for good in the charity world, said the two programmes will provide a boost to youngsters in the area.

"It's the most exciting thing I've ever done," he said.

"With other things, you work at it every year and there might be changes but there might not be.

"But with this, you can see it in front of your eyes. There's so much natural talent people have in the Black Country and whatever circumstances – whether that's class barriers or other hurdles – they just don't believe they can do something.

"But once you talk to them and understand them as an individual, they really 'fly'; you can literally see the change. It's fantastic, it's one of the most amazing things."

The charity is putting on two programmes, the first being a mental health and fitness programme – an hour of a mental health workshop followed by an hour of boxing and fitness training – with Support Futures paying for the facilities.

And the cricket tournament, being held in June to coincide with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, has been backed by Sports England and will be six-a-side.

People will "just need to come forward and they they'll take part in both of the programmes," Mr Etheridge said.

The indoor cricket tournament will take place on June 15, June 16, June 22, June 23 and June 30 from 10am to 1pm. The mental health fitness course will run from 11am to 1.30pm on June 7, June 14, June 21, June 28 and July 5, July 12, July 19 and July 26.

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