A BOXING coach who has spent the last five years building a club to get children off the streets and into sport has been named in the New Year’s Honour list.

Alex Oliver, from Meadowfield, near Durham, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to charity and to the community.

The 38-year-old, who is the head coach at Brandon Boxing Club, said he was “over the moon” by the news.

He said: “It was a bit of a shock when I got the letter.

“Being in a boxing club we have a lot of jokers so I didn’t know whether it was a wind up or not.

“When I found out it was real I was over the moon for myself and my family.

“I’m massively grateful and humble to whoever it was that took the time to nominate me.”

Mr Oliver, who started the club in 2013, is also involved in raising money for a range of local charities and good causes, including Trinity School Durham, where his daughter Kara-mai is a pupil.

The club started as a class in 2013 to give young people the chance to take part in a disciplined and energetic environment to try and stop them from hanging around on street.

It has been based at the Brandon Carrside Youth Club and now has more than 100 members attending classes and sessions each week as well as a partnership with Durham Trinity School.

He and his wife Michelle, who also coaches at the club, have undertaken disability coaching qualifications.

This year it managed to secure funding to open a brand new purpose-built facility at Brandon Sports Club, which is also home to the village’s cricket club.

Work started in the summer and it is hoped the club will be able to hold a launch for the new facility at the end of January, allowing the club to continue to grow.

Mr Oliver, who has completed the Great North Run three times to raise money, has been involved in a number of charity initiatives.

He added: “It’s been growing and growing every year and we’ve been producing better and better results.

“Hopefully our new gym is going to take us to the next level. Hopefully we’ll be able to take the kids to any level and aim for the Olympics.

“I hope things like this help to put us in the public eye and show people what we do.”

His nomination says: “An experienced amateur boxer, he decided to give something back to his community and set up the Brandon Amateur Boxing Club in 2013 to benefit young people and children living in Durham.

“He has provided them with an alternative way to spend their free time, tackled obesity and under-age drinking and deterred them from less scrupulous activities by actively promoting a positive outlook to life and a healthier lifestyle. He encourages individuals from all backgrounds to become involved in mentoring of young people.

“He has arranged for local tradesmen to build the new facilities, bringing a morale boost to the area.

“His club has become one of the strongest in the North East, winning various awards.”