Ahead of jetting off to India to defend the Women’s World Cup, England captain Charlotte Edwards visited Oak Tree Primary School in Mansfield on Monday (7 January) to help inspire the next generation of England cricketers.
The visit, part of Charlotte’s role as a Chance to Shine coaching ambassador, saw her host an interactive cricket themed school assembly around the MCC ‘Spirit of Cricket’ message before coaching the girls’ cricket team.
Oak Tree Primary School is based in a very challenging area of Mansfield in which 60-70% of children are eligible for free school dinners, while 80% come from one parent families. It has been involved in the Chance to Shine scheme since 2005 and has used cricket to turn the school around. The school has an incredibly strong girls’ cricket section and they won the national ASDA Kwik Cricket Competition last year. They are also unbeaten at local level for seven years. Their teacher, Paul Gash, was recognised at the annual Chance to Shine Awards at Lord’s in October for his incredible work at the school.
The school prepared for Charlotte’s visit by putting together a piece of work on the upcoming Women’s World Cup, the England players themselves and the cricketing success that the school has had.
Speaking during the visit, Charlotte said, “It’s been fantastic to come in and see this wonderful school. They didn’t know I was coming and it’s amazing to see how much the kids love cricket. So much of that is down to the great work the teachers, especially Paul Gash, do here.”
Oak Tree pupil Katie said, “It was very exciting. She taught us how to throw and the assembly was really interesting.”
PE teacher Paul Gash commented, “It’s been fantastic. It was an honour to have Charlotte in and the kids have loved it, you can see it on the smiles on their faces. It’s great to such have a good role model come in and talk to the kids.”
Chance to Shine supported by Brit Insurance is the biggest grass-roots sport development programmes ever undertaken in Britain. It was launched in 2005 by Governor of the Bank of England Sir Mervyn King to reverse the decline of cricket in state schools and has now brought cricket to 1.8 million schoolchildren.