Friday, May 16, 2014
A community hero who has given nearly 50 years of his life to helping teenage tearaways get their lives on track, is retiring.
Neil Parsons, 71, Lympstone Amateur Boxing Club founder, boxing MC, charity fundraiser and young person’s mentor, was honoured with the Judge’s Special Award at last week’s Exmouth Business Awards.
Neil, of Glebelands, Lympstone, attended the ceremony just days after suffering a heart attack – and from next month will hang up his gloves as club secretary.
He told the Journal: “The stress has been building for some time – the club has got so big and I wanted to get out before it kills me.
“I feel like a captain of a ship, and without the crew we would be going nowhere.
“It’s down to the committee.”
Neil founded the club in November 14, 1968, in Lympstone Village Hall after the established Exmouth ABC temporarily closed, leaving 15 boxers with nowhere to go.
He said: “Boxing just gets into your blood.
“It has been a 50-year rollercoaster. You get real satisfaction out of seeing these young boys make something of themselves.
“Take Steve Cudd – when he joined aged 11 he was the biggest tearaway I had ever seen, but he kept coming back.
“Look at him now. He owns his own business [Autosave].
“Steve has called me every day of my recovery.”
He added: “I am full of admiration for all of them. To step through the ropes, no matter what the result, takes real guts.”
Over 46 years the club has grown – through hard work Neil secured the £82,000 of funding to realise his dream of expanding the club.
Now the Sheppards Row-based gym, named Harding Hall after one of the club’s best-ever boxers Timmy Harding, is one of the best equipped in the whole region.
Neil added: “It’s an honour to win the award over someone like [judo master] John Goldman, who in Exmouth is a legend in his own right. It makes you feel pretty good.”
Chamber of commerce chairman Ian MacQueen said: “Neil has provided the boxing opportunities, emotional support and discipline that has changed the lives of many of our young people.
“With over 50 members the demand is so great that Neil successfully secured £82,000 of funding to extend opportunities for youngsters, both boys and girls.
“There are many adults living in Exmouth today who acknowledge the support they received from Neil when they were young.”
l The last Lympstone ABC boxing tournament organised by Neil takes place at the Pavilion on Friday, May 24, from 8pm.