A boxing club based in Grenfell Tower has reopened in a new, purpose-built location a year after the fire that claimed 72 lives.
Dale Youth Amateur Boxing Club had been situated at the bottom of the tower for almost two decades before it was destroyed last June.
The club has trained in an unused car park since the fire. A new state of the art gym, built with the help of the BBC’s DIY SOS team, has now been reopened under the Westway.
Mayor Sadiq Khan, DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles and former Chelsea footballer Dennis Wise attended the official opening ceremony.
Mick Delaney, head coach at Dale Youth ABC, said: “It’s unbelievable. We never dreamed it was going to happen.”
He described the club as a vital facility for young people in the area. “It’s a community, North Kensington. Everyone gets round each other, everyone knows everybody, and everyone sticks together. I think this is so important,” he said.
Dale Youth has a long list of successful alumni including an Olympic champion, two world champions, and European, British and Commonwealth champions.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The thing about this boxing club is it teaches people life skills. I want young people to know this is a safe place for them to go. This is the sort of gang they should be belonging to.”
Many members of the club lost friends and family in the fire at Grenfell Tower last year, and some survivors attended the opening ceremony. William McDermott, who has trained at the club for the last 10 years, said: “It’s a gift to have this given to us. It brings people together. There’ll be a lot of people coming in from the community.”
Dale Youth was originally located on the ground floor of Grenfell Tower, but moved to the walkway level after a refurbishment in 2016. This refurbishment also added the cladding that contributed to the fire last June.
The DIY SOS team led efforts to build the new gym and an adjoining community centre on a 750 square metre site under the Westway. Galliard Homes, recycling company Powerday and a host of other contractors and suppliers also supported the project.
Members of the local community volunteered to help with the build, which took just 63 days and was attended by the Duke of Cambridge. The episode aired on BBC One in September.
Presenter Nick Knowles said: “When you see the enthusiasm and the respect in the club, we knew that we’d been pointed in the right direction in terms of building this.”
Former footballer Dennis Wise also attended the ceremony to oversee the unveiling of a minibus that he donated to the club.
Nine year-old Dale Youth boxer Mason said he liked the layout of the new gym, which has high quality equipment and a viewing gallery for parents. “I feel very happy and I thank the DIY SOS people for doing it,” he added.
The inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower is ongoing and has recently heard evidence from members of the London Fire Brigade, survivors and the bereaved.
James Brokenshire, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, announced a ban on cladding similar to those used on the Grenfell Tower.
Survivors welcomed the announcement, but the Fire Brigades Union criticised the government for not going far enough.
FBU general secretary Mark Wrack said: “This is not the outright ban on combustible cladding that firefighters have been calling for. The Westminster government continues to allow cladding of limited combustibility for any building work in the future. The FBU calls for a universal ban on these flammable materials.”