Grassroots cricket heroes light up awards night

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Teachers, coaches, volunteers and pupils from all over the country were recognised for their dedication to grassroots cricket at the Chance to Shine Annual Awards yesterday (6th November). 

The annual awards evening at the world-famous Kia Oval celebrated and rewarded the work that people put in to make the Chance to Shine charitable campaign a success. BBC Test Match Special commentator, Alison Mitchell, hosted the event and England cricketers Jonathan Bairstow and Tammy Beaumont attended to show their support for the charity. 

Park Junior School in Wellingborough received the School of the Year award sponsored by Smile Group Travel. The judging panel was impressed with the way Park Junior has used cricket to break down barriers, where 50 per cent of pupils come from ethnic minority backgrounds. The school has a number of children who have recently come into the country without any English and some of these students have used cricket as a way to make new friends. They have also improved their language skills, self-esteem, behaviour and academic performance in the process.

Park Junior SchoolDavid Tebbutt, Head teacher at Park Junior School said, “We are delighted. We have a number of teachers and staff who love cricket, especially me! Their enthusiasm and their dedication towards cricket is passed on to the children. Chance to Shine has been crucial in that. The coaches run fantastic sessions for the children and hopefully some of them will turn into lifelong cricketers. 

“Every single child loves cricket. Whether they go on to play for England or not, every child leaves our school loving cricket. That is down to the Chance to Shine coaches and the teachers.”

Emma Jones, from Felixstowe, won the Young Leader of the Year award. The judges praised the enthusiasm, dedication and leadership qualities Emma showed while encouraging girls and boys to join local clubs. They applauded her work as a Young Leader for Felixstowe and Corinthians Youth cricket club, where she umpired, scored, organised fixtures and helped to arrange coaching courses. She is already being touted as a coach who can shape the future of cricket in Suffolk.

Collecting the award, Emma, said, “I’m really surprised. It is a big shock to win. I didn’t realise how big the award is and how many people have been nominated for it.

“I love coaching and seeing the children progress. I had one kid come and thank me after a session recently and it’s such a good feeling.”

Huw BuckleHuw Buckle, from Maidenhead and Bray cricket club, received the Special Recognition award sponsored by Smile Group Travel for his tireless work promoting girls cricket. The judges highlighted how Huw had set up and established a thriving girls section at the club. Huw worked with local schools and his girls-only session helped dozens of girls try and enjoy cricket. Three of the girls are now playing for their county age team.

Huw said, “I’m extremely honoured. I genuinely think there are more worthy winners. It’s a fantastic achievement for Maidenhead and Bray cricket club and the local schools including Newlands in particular.

“The girls have been fantastic. Without them I would never have received this award. I feel incredibly humble and thrilled to have received it. You do it because you love it but when you receive an award like this it shows that people like me can be recognised for doing something that we love.”

Joe Ashdown collected the Coach of the Year award for his work promoting cricket in Yorkshire. The judging panel was particularly impressed with the work Joe has done to increase the number of girls receiving training sessions and how he is helping to inspire a new generation of women cricketers in Yorkshire. They praised the fact that many of his cricketing students have built on their introductions to cricket, signing up for Youth Leader courses, planning and running their own events for peers and helping to promote the game by assisting at events in primary schools. 

Joe said, “I’m completely overwhelmed. There are so many coaches out there so to win the award is an absolute pleasure, I’m gobsmaked! It was fantastic to have Jonny present the award. He’s an inspiration to all of the children in Yorkshire.”

Ali And JonathanEngland and Yorkshire cricketer, Jonathan Bairstow, said, “Tonight is about recognising a fantastic bunch of people from an array of different backgrounds around the country. They have all done a fantastic job for Chance to Shine in the last year.”

Talking about Chance to Shine, Jonathan said, “The campaign is keeping cricket alive. Without it, football and sports like basketball, which are slightly easier and cheaper to do, are going to take over. Chance to Shine is doing a fantastic job and long may it continue.”

Commenting on the awards, Chance to Shine chief executive, Wasim Khan MBE, said, “The awards are our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the coaches, teachers, volunteers and county boards who are vital to the success of Chance to Shine. Without them, this campaign simply wouldn’t work. Thanks to them children around the country are getting the opportunity to play and learn through cricket.”

Other Award winners were:

  • Cricketing Ambassador of the Year: Tammy Beaumont
  • Innovation Award: Gordon Calvert/High View Primary
  • Participant of the Year: Holly Grace
  • Project of the Year: Cotswold East
  • Satellite club of the Year supported by Sport England: Broadwater School 
  • Special Recognition Award sponsored by Smile Group Travel: Jo Hazelton & Lucy Elms
  • Volunteer of the Year: John Peplow

Find out more about their amazing stories here.

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