An EX-SAS soldier turned boxing coach has been shortlisted as a National Coaching Hero for his work supporting mental health through sport.

From nearly 500 public nominations, Carlisle’s Jimmy Brennan is one of 75 coaches across the nation to have been shortlisted for the UK Coaching Hero Awards.

The initiative recognises and celebrates the innovations and achievements of coaches who inspired the nation to keep moving during national lockdowns.

Mr Brennan looks after a group of more than 900 members, where each month a challenge is set for all to participate in daily. The aim of his work is to support those who are struggling mentally, and to create a support network through physical fitness.

Persevering through the various lockdowns over the past year, he posts workouts each day on YouTube, which anyone can access. And as an ex-SAS soldier, he knows more than most the value of going that little bit further.

Following his 28 years of service, Mr Brennan has no intention of slowing down his contribution. Now back as head coach of his local boxing club, Carlisle Villa Amateur Boxing Club, he has been able to rediscover his passion while helping others.

Most importantly of all, in a time where mental health matters more than ever, he has provided support andadvice and maintained a constant social environment to so many young people in the Carlisle community.

“I’m absolutely honoured and humbled to be nominated," he said. "It’s great to see that people have enjoyed my coaching, and to feel like you’re making a positive difference is a wonderful feeling.

"Coaching is so important for communities. I’m determined to let people know they’re not alone, and that someone is looking out for them and wants to support them all the way.

“The pandemic has been a nightmare for me as I am used to interacting with all my classes – being in the gym on your own and posting online is a very lonely place. The youngsters I coach have been a great inspiration to me. Seeing what they were doing during the lockdown and how they coped with the situation really helped me to get through each day.

“Clearly, the relationship works both ways – they help me as much as I help them!”

Despite having already done so much for his community, Mr Brennan believes he is always learning, as coaching is a constant development process.

He reflected: “Firstly, I have learned not to take things for granted, to cherish the time we have together and use the time we have in the gym to get the best out of each other. That’s what it’s all about really – coaching means supporting one another, appreciating the people around you and striving to be the best you can be.”

Reflecting on the exceptional contribution of coaches like Mr Brennan, UK Coaching Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said: “Many congratulations to all our finalists and to the hundreds of other coaches who were nominated.

"Each of your stories were incredibly inspiring and showed how invaluable you are to your communities.

“The work of great coaches, changes lives. And that is what Jimmy has done over the past 12 difficult months.

“He has brought people together through sport and physical activity sessions, whether online or one-to-one, and provided connections and support.”

The vote features as part of UK Coaching Week, which is taking place until Sunday, empowering athletes, coaches, organisations, and the public to celebrate great coaching and encouraging coaches to adapt and recover their space within the sport and physical activity sector.

To cast your vote for the UK Coaching Hero and to find out more about the campaign, visit