ASPIRING Flintshire taekwondo stars looking to follow in the illustrious footsteps of double Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones are being given a helping hand - thanks to cash seized from criminals.

The Deeside and Flintshire Taekwondo club has a long and proud history, attracting scores of participants to its classes, but the Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact.

The club has been unable to run its regular training sessions at Deeside Leisure Centre and other venues across Flintshire during the past year.

Your community your choice awards; Deeside Tae Kwon Do; Pictured Arfon Jones Police crime commissioner North Wales with Tae Kwon Do instructor Darren Richardson. Picture Mandy Jones

Your community your choice awards; Deeside Tae Kwon Do; Pictured Arfon Jones Police crime commissioner North Wales with Tae Kwon Do instructor Darren Richardson. Picture Mandy Jones

It has been a difficult time for long-serving chief instructor Darren Richardson and his team of coaches who have kept the club going with training sessions on Zoom.

But the good news is that they have scooped a £2,500 Your Community, Your Choice grant from a special fund distributed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.

It is the eighth year of the awards scheme, also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT), and much of over £280,000 handed out to deserving causes in in PACT’s 23-year history has come through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The club was one of the lucky recipients with the cash being used to support its revival once training sessions can be held indoors again.

"This funding is brilliant news for the club," said Darren, who will be celebrating his 50th birthday in May.

"The money will help us get back to where we were before lockdown and hopefully build beyond that.

"It is a big boost to receive so much money and we are grateful to everyone who has helped make this happen."

Originally known as Deeside Taekwondo, the club added Flintshire to its name last year in view of its work across the county, catering for all ages and abilities, from elite members to novices.

All dream of matching the outstanding achievements of Flintshire taekwondo star Jade Jones, who will be looking to make it a hat-trick of Olympic gold medals later this year in Tokyo.

Darren believes Jade is an ideal person for aspiring taekwondo athletes to look up to, as well as Chester-born Amy Truesdale who is set to compete at the Paralympics.

Jade Jones

Jade Jones

He said: "Although she was not a member of this club, I have known Jade since she was a young girl and have seen the progress she has made.

"She is an excellent role model for our young members who would love to be the next Jade Jones and be as successful as she has.

"I have every confidence that Jade can go and win gold again at the Olympics and the same applies with Amy, who has also worked extremely hard and is someone for our members to look up to."

Darren took over the running of the club in 1991 and he has seen hundreds of members take to the mats in the past three decades.

Classes are held at Deeside, Mold and Mynydd Isa, with the club having had about 300 members prior to lockdown, often generations of the same family, and welcoming members from all backgrounds and abilities.

"There were members coming along in 1991 whose grandkids are now a part of the club," said Darren, of Lixwm, near Holywell.

"The great thing about taekwondo is that all ages can enjoy it. There aren't many other sports where children and their parents come along together and there's a great family atmosphere."

Deeside and Flintshire Taekwondo was one of three successful applicants for Your Community, Your Choice funding in Flintshire.

The others were Penyffordd and Penymynydd War Memorial Institute, which has been awarded £2,500 for a music studio and Castell Alun Colts FC, which is receiving £1,525 for a team building weekend and professional coaching sessions.

Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett said: “Our communities continue to play a part in this success with local intelligence information given to our officers that help us to bring these criminals to justice.

“It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good that's being used for a constructive purpose.”