BRITISH boxing champion Josh Wale is helping schoolchildren stay on the straight and narrow by teaching them how to box.

Josh, 30, from Brampton, works for the charity Dearne Valley Personal Development Centre which takes pupil referrals from schools and helps them to gain qualifications. It is based at Mexborough and is run by former British champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jon Jo Irwin and his wife Jackie. Double Commonwealth champion Jason Cunningham also works with the young people.

The pupils spend between one and three days at the centre and have the opportunity to train with boxers and sports professionals.

Josh said: “The centre works with kids who struggle in mainstream school, and I kept seeing Barnsley kids come through.

“I’m the boxing coach, so they will work with Jackie and then they come to boxing if they want to.

“It’s for children who have behavioural problems, who are struggling with their parents, or who are finding it hard. It’s not big and it’s not hard to be getting kicked out of school, but we’re trying to put them back on the right path.

“This is my first year being involved and so far it’s been great, very rewarding.”

Jackie, a qualified teacher, added: “We’ve had some really lovely successes, we’ve had young people who have found successful employment or gone on to college and I really believe that after seven years we have had an impact on that. What’s really good about Josh being here, he runs the amateur boxing gym in the same building, is that kids with behaviour problems are making that link to the boxing gym, and learn discipline and control.

“It’s a really good connection with Josh and he is a great role model to the young people.”