Pupils from Oak Tree Primary in Mansfield enjoyed a memorable cricketing school day yesterday (Tuesday 21 June) when former England and Nottinghamshire cricketer James Taylor paid them a visit. James took part in a special outdoor assembly as part of Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week, a celebration of cricket in schools across the country run Chance to Shine.
Leading the assembly was Channel 5 cricket presenter Mark Nicholas who asked James about his heart condition that led to the end of his international cricket career. Oak Tree pupils also asked James and Mark their own questions before the VIP guests helped to ‘open’ officially the school’s new artificial cricket pitch.
Year 6 student Chelsea bowled the first ball to Mark Nicholas with James Taylor behind the stumps and then pupils took part in a ‘bowl-off’ for a chance to win a replica silver Ashes urn. Speaking at the event, where he was announced as an official Chance to Shine Ambassador, James Taylor said, “It was brilliant to see the children smiling and enjoying themselves. There was some good talent on show as well.
“Unfortunately I’ve had my career cut short but now I want to get involved and help young people play cricket and Chance to Shine has given me that opportunity. I think the future of English cricket is bright and the more people we get playing the better it is for everyone.”
Head of PE at the school, Paul Gash, was in no doubt about the impact of James’ visit on the children, explaining, ”It shows the children what they can achieve when someone like James has been through a lot and is still smiling and getting on with life. Children around here can relate to that and it shows that things can be done with a lot of hard work and belief.”
Oak Tree Primary pupil Rio, 11 reflected on the morning saying, “It’s unbelievable to have Mark and James come to our school. I’ve looked up to James who is one of my favourite cricketers. I’m quite good at cricket and I would like to play for a professional team.”
His classmate Chelsea, 11, summed up the event saying, “It’s been the best day ever!”
During this week, thousands of schools are getting involved in Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week, through their local county cricket board. Schools across the country are enjoying coaching in the playground, cricket-themed lessons in class, competitions at local cricket clubs and cricket festivals.
This summer, donations from the public to Chance Shine will be personally matched pound for pound by one of the charity’s Patrons Adrian Beecroft. Donations can be made here
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