“This gym has captured the attention of the world”

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I had to write in after following unfolding events that De Hood Boxing Gym at Manor Top seem to be enduring. This gym has captured the attention of the world.

I have been in awe watching from the United States what started out as a couple of kids diverting their attention from crime into something very healthy, then evolving into this great club that now has thousands of members.

Not only does it provide fitness but Reagan Denton’s talent has created a freedom from uncertainty for many of these children, a place they feel safe, a place many get a cooked meal, especially during school holidays where their families struggle to provide.

A place that teaches self discipline, that has taken children off the street turning their energy into something positive. Reagan creates volunteer events to raise much needed funding for the club, community projects such as bagging groceries at local super markets. The list is endless not to mention incredible what one young man has started and achieved.

I have watched Mick Hartley try to raise awareness for the kickback recovery programme for people with addiction, mental health and many other issues. It bewilders me how Sheffield City Council is not moving faster on securing the existing building for this magnificent non-profit organisation that is having to beg and plead to remain open.

How can one club that has gained national and international attention be left hanging in the wind wondering if its doors will remain open? This place has grabbed the hearts and souls of so many people to include first responders like local police, firefighters etc that have all recognised the significant drop in crime making their jobs easier by allowing them to focus more on critical life- saving events.

Let’s not forget to mention the weight loss programme this gym is involved in as we all tune in to watch the bi weekly weigh-in of Mark Caterer whose current weight loss is over 13 stone. His doctor took the time to write in to De Hood praising Mark’s success, who he said would have been dead in a year if he didn’t do something.

I have also watched as Mark has been advertising a day trip to Blackpool for De Hood families that became so successful a second coach had to be hired for their upcoming trip in September.

I have seen Easter egg hunts put on for the children, boxing events sponsored by individuals, a van donated by the English soccer team, new gloves and gym equipment donated.

If I can see the good this club provides from across the pond why can’t the Sheffield City Council?

Nobody should have to beg and plead for this great organisation to remain open, but if that’s what it takes they are begging, the world is begging and watching.

I would also like to thank Reagan and Laura for taking me and my daughter on a tour when we came to visit in January.

It was such a great atmosphere and De Hood sweatshirt and tank top we purchased during that visit are being proudly worn here in the good ole USA.

Cheryl Ray

Tucson, Arizona, USA

Cruel and unforgiving

Another series of the X Factor, some of the contestants are genuinely talented, but, alas, others are anything but!

The latter category reminds me of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York socialite in the early 1940s who desperately wanted to be an opera singer, but there was one big snag, she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket! However, she was blissfully unaware of that. Her story was made into a film in 2016 with Meryl Streep starring and was shown on BBC1 recently.

Anyway, she was equally impassioned and deluded. Her husband, who’d not been successful in his acting career, backed her to the hilt and even hired a vocal coach and pianist for her who’d try to hide their pained expressions as she massacred yet another classical piece.

When I saw the film on TV and she began to sing, my teeth were literally on edge and my ears pleaded for mercy. I envisaged every dog in the land fleeing, never to return. There would have been a definite ‘No’ from Simon Cowell.

However, my heart broke for her when having achieved her ambition to perform at New York’s esteemed Carnegie Hall, the audience fell about laughing and ridiculed her. What’s more, when she read a very brutal review in the paper she was even more gutted. So much so that she actually collapsed.

Her health, already poor, deteriorated drastically and just one month after the bubble burst, she died. On her deathbed, she declared to her husband, “they said I couldn’t sing, but they couldn’t say I didn’t sing”. Bless her.

The moral of the story, I deduced, is that you don’t have to be good at doing what you love, just give it a go, give it your all and do it with passion. However, realism is required too, and the naysayers out there can be cruel and unforgiving.

The best of luck to this year’s X Factor contestants, who are about to find that out.

CM Langan

Sheffield, S8

The main attraction

I’m sitting in the park again at the moment, next to the stream. A butterfly fluttered towards me and landed on my chest a few moments ago. He stayed there a short while as I glanced carefully at him. I’d only been there a few minutes so I was a little taken aback. Then he fluttered off.

I can’t remember experiencing this before. His wings were pale green and white, I think, with delicate patterns. He would be well camouflaged on a cabbage patch.

A party of nine preschool children are enjoying chasing each other around tree trunks. All of them are wearing a reflective yellow top. Several of them venture close to the stream to explore but they don’t go in, being supervised by two adults. An elderly man is practicing tai chi not far away. A few passing children try to balance on the raised stone edge of the path. Joggers, walkers, but not as many dogs today though.

So many distractions, so hard to focus just on the sound of the stream and watch the flow of water. This is the main attraction.

John C Fowler

Leverton Gardens, S11