VOLUNTEERS’ WEEK 2024: CELEBRATING THE EFFORTS OF THE CRICKET COLLECTIVE

CRICKET IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE WOULD NOT BE IN THE STRONG PLACE IT IS TODAY WITHOUT THE DEDICATION OF THE CRICKET COLLECTIVE.

Throughout cricket, thousands of people give up their time to volunteer in many different ways.  This amazing group of people are known as The Cricket Collective.  Their volunteering responsibilities may cover areas such as safeguarding, grounds work, coaching, administration, umpiring, arranging fixtures, bar work, scoring, and much more.  The time they give ensures their club provides the best, the most fun, the warmest of welcomes, in a safe and inclusive environment where people can enjoy their cricket and feel part of a community, which supports the longevity of the club and hopefully inspires others to give their time too.

Throughout the Cricket Community of our beautiful cricketing region, there are many people doing just that, and this Volunteers’ Week, we want to shine a light on a few individuals who give their time for a variety of reasons to support their cricket club, which is having a positive impact in many ways.

A huge ‘Thank you’ must be given to the Cricket Collective throughout Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, and the City of Bristol, whose time and dedication have allowed our region to have the wonderful Cricket Community it has.

If you find the stories below have spurred you onto volunteer and become part of the Cricket Collective in Gloucestershire, speak with a member of your club’s Committee to find out how you can help and have a positive impact on your club and it’s members.

GLOUCESTERSHIRE CRICKET COLLECTIVE STORIES

 

Christel Rees who is part of the Cricket Collective in Gloucestershire.

CHRISTEL REES – BRISLINGTON CC / GOLDEN HILL CC / COMPTON DANDO NOMADS CC

With distant memories of listening to the soothing tones of Henry Blofeld on TMS, cricket has always been somewhere in Christel’s life. However, in the late 2000s cricket stood front and centre, where Christel expected to be lost in a good book during a pre-season friendly at Golden Hill CC. However, she became swept up in the sounds of leather meeting willow, appeals to umpires, the people, and the sense of community at the club, that the book lasted no more than three pages. By the end of that season, Christel was an avid scorer, drawn in by all the symbols and colours.

Christel says:

“Cricket is such a fantastic game and sport. It caters to everyone, literally anyone of any age and ability. There is such a range; from National Programmes (All Stars and Dynamos Cricket), Super 1s (disability cricket), club cricket, county cricket, talent pathways, professional cricket, and even walking cricket. Cricket is very much a game for all.”

It was the people that drew Christel into the game, and it is the people that have kept her in the game. Christel loves being part of the cricket community, so much so that she volunteers at three clubs: Brislington CC, Golden Hill CC, and Compton Dando Nomads CC. All three clubs are special to Christel, but they all have one very crucial element in common – the people.

Christel says:

“Each of the three clubs I am involved with are welcoming communities with what can only be described as an incredible army of volunteers, and players and spectators too.”

Christel’s roles and responsibilities differ somewhat across the three clubs she is involved with, but the main responsibility they all have in common is safeguarding.

As part of the Cricket Collective, Christel is committed to the Cricket Community and volunteering at three cricket clubs is testament to that. As well leading on safeguarding at all three clubs, Christel also volunteers in other roles at the three cricket clubs she is part of, to ensure everyone at those clubs has the most enjoyable and positive experience when playing cricket.

Christel says:

“I tend to be the one who makes sure that we are compliant with laws, regulations, and other requirements. I think my roles across the different clubs are relatively fluid when it comes to responsibilities.”

At Brislington CC Christel is Head of Youth Cricket, Age Group Manager for the U15s.

Christel is the Head of Compliance and Operations at Golden Hill CC, which encompasses safeguarding (designated safeguarding lead/CSO), first aid, health and safety, membership, and supporting the various sections and sub-committees. On top of that, Christel also serves on the Executive Committee.

At Compton Dando Nomads CC, Christel volunteers as Wellbeing Champion, Treasurer, coaches, and if needed, sometimes turns her hand to scoring, umpiring, and is also known for making a great cup of tea.

It’s a wonder Christel finds any time outside of cricket.

“There’s life outside cricket?!” Christel exclaims. “Our entire family is, in one way or another, involved in cricket and we all play, so cricket takes up a substantial amount of our time.”

Having said that, Christel also volunteers as Chair of the local Community Association, enjoys cooking, and daydreams about reading more books.

It is abundantly clear Christel enjoys volunteering, especially in cricket. Being asked why she volunteers, Christel says:

“I volunteer because I love cricket. I volunteer because it is rewarding. I volunteer because I enjoy being around the other volunteers. I volunteer…because I can. Some people knit, some people do yoga, some people paint. I volunteer in cricket, which is very much a hobby to me. It is something I enjoy; it is something I consider fun. Volunteering in cricket has given me new skills, new knowledge, new learning opportunities and all while making new friends for life.”

Christel highly recommends volunteering for your cricket club and says:

“If you have the time and desire to support your club, then do. It not only benefits your wellbeing but that of others, like the fellow members of your club.”

Finally, Christel would like to share five ways volunteering supports positive wellbeing.

  • Connect – volunteering for your club will allow you to connect with others.
  • Get active – playing or helping ensures that others play.
  • Take notice – being involved with your club makes you take notice of the environment, the community, and the club.
  • Learn – when you embark upon a volunteering journey, chances are you will have the opportunity to learn, train, and gain additional skills and qualifications.
  • Give – by volunteering you give of your time, your skills, your passion, and you help encourage others.

If Christel’s story has stirred your curiosity to volunteer, find a member of your club’s Committee to see how you can help.

 

Liara Hampton - Young Volunteer

LIARA HAMPTON – TETBURY CC / HATHERLEY AND REDDINGS CC

Despite her young years, Liara has found the cricket community has given her so much that she wants to give back and become part of the Cricket Collective by volunteering at her club.

Liara lives with her mother, father, and sister and besides cricket and school, has several other interests, and there’s no prizes for guessing what one of them is judging by the names of her two beloved dachshunds, Dobby and Bellatrix. As well as reading, Liara likes to keep herself active by playing rugby and climbing, where she is currently working on her NICAS Level 3 climbing course, a technical climber certificate in roped climbing.

Liara caught the cricket bug from one of her teachers at primary school who loved the game so much he set up an after-school cricket club which Liara joined. It only took one session and Liara was hooked, so much so that she sought a cricket club to join and became part of the cricket community with Tetbury CC and Hatherley and Reddings CC. At her clubs, Liara’s enjoyment of the game grew, and she found a place where she made strong bonds with new friends.

Liara says:

“I have so much fun playing cricket. My club is very supportive, encouraging, and everyone is so friendly. I have made great friends, and my coaches are all amazing.”

Soon Liara found the Super 1s, the Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation’s community disability cricket programme funded by the Lord’s Taverners, which she says is “really fun”. At the Stroud hub, Liara was encouraged to trial for the Gloucestershire County Disability Teams, where she was successful in being invited to train with the S9 Squad and be eligible for selection in one of the three County Disability Teams that make up the squad.

The S9 Performance Team play a 35 over format where players wear protective equipment using an incrediball. The S9 Development Team use the same equipment but play a 30 over format, and the S9 Pairs Team provides players the opportunity to play competitive performance Disability Cricket.

After a successful trial, Liara soon became a prominent member of the S9 Development and Performance Teams, where she was invited by the Gloucestershire County Disability coaching team to trial for the D40 Squad, who use a hardball and play 40 over games. Having been successful in gaining a place in the D40 Squad, this provided her the opportunity to continue her journey along the Disability Talent Pathway, where she is training with the Disability Premier League. The next tier of the Disability Talent Pathway is the England Disability Teams. As well as playing elite Disability Cricket, Liara is also a member of the MCC girls’ hub in Gloucestershire, which offers a comprehensive winter training programme for state school educated young people and girls currently not in the County Age Group Talent Pathway.

Liara is very aware cricket has given her so many great experiences and opportunities that she wants to give back to the game. To begin her volunteering journey, Liara took part in the GCF’s Get Into Cricket programme, which provides young people with a toolkit of qualifications that will directly benefit them and the clubs they are involved in, and she is now helping with coaching the younger girls at her cricket club on training days.  Liara thoroughly enjoys volunteering and is gaining a lot from it and highly encourages others to become part of the Cricket Collective.

Liara says:

“I enjoy helping others learn new skills and it’s great to see the improvement as the season progresses. I would recommend volunteering at your cricket club, it’s a great community and helps the club to run as best as they can.”

If Liara’s story has inspired you to volunteer, speak to a member of your club’s committee or if you are a young person aged between 14 – 18, then check out our Get Into Cricket programme.

 

Darron Hamilton - member of the Gloucestershire Cricket Collective

DARRON HAMILTON – BRISTOL WEST INDIES AND PHOENIX CC

As far back as he can remember, as young boy growing up in Trinidad, Darron was always playing cricket. He loves the game and feels he is part of the last generation where playing cricket was in your DNA.

Darron recalls:

“I have always loved the game, spending days watching the tactics of Test Cricket and discussing it with my dad and family.”

Prior to becoming part of the Cricket Collective, Darron did not play any cricket in the UK and therefore had no affiliation to any club. Instead, he worked in Sports Development and delivered multisport sessions at community venues in Bristol. It was here Darron was asked to be involved with a youth community cricket programme funded by Chance to Shine called Street 20, which was his introduction into the Cricket Collective. Here Darron was approached by the then Gloucestershire Cricket Board, now GCF, to do a cricket coaching qualification. This allowed Darron to deliver more cricket sessions in the community, where he found himself delivering blind cricket as well as youth cricket sessions.

Darron’s enjoyment of cricket grew through his coaching, and he eventually gained his Level 2 cricket coaching certificate, which is now the Core Coach qualification. It was through his coaching Darron found Bristol West Indies and Phoenix CC where he is now a fully engaged member of the Cricket Collective.

Darron says:

“The people and diversity that we have as a club is fantastic. Within the youth team there are so many cultures and the fact that all those kids play together and work together is amazing.”

At BWIPCC, Darron is the Youth Co-ordinator, managing the U11s and U13s, and runs All Stars and Dynamos Cricket at the club, with the ambition to rebuild, develop, and sustain the club for the next generation. As well as all his youth responsibilities, Darron umpires and supports on recruitment, and also works with the GCF on the ACE Programme in Bristol.

Darron gains a lot from donating his time as a volunteer at BWIPCC, seeing the satisfaction from the children and their parents where the young cricketers have turned a corner in their skills development saying:

“It’s all about seeing the development of young players, and where they are able to hit those small milestones in bowling and batting brings me joy.”

Outside of cricket, Darron is a father to two wonderful children age sixteen and eleven. He has moved on from delivering multisport sessions in the community to working on sustainable transport projects for Bristol City Council. His other hobby is running, where earlier this year, Darron completed his second marathon, running in the UK’s second largest marathon in Manchester.

Darron wholeheartedly recommends people to volunteer and become part of the Cricket Collective saying:

“There are so many areas to volunteer at your local club, from social media, coaching, scoring, facility development, administration, finance. Volunteering offers a unique opportunity to work with others, develop and/or use your skills while giving something back to your local community. Without a host of volunteers, your club will not be able to survive.”

If Darron’s words of wisdom have energised you to volunteer, speak with a member of your club’s Committee to find out how you can support the next generation of cricketers at your club.

 

Neil Stacey, member of the Gloucestershire Cricket Collective

NEIL STACEY – KINGSWOOD VILLAGE CC

Cricket has always been part of Neil’s life ever since he was a boy, despite being an avid football supporter for his beloved team Nottingham Forest. During his early years, Neil remembers days at his local cricket club in South Staffordshire, watching his dad and uncles play, while every day being badgered by his elder brother of seven years to bowl at him. These experiences were the gateway for Neil into the cricket community.

As a teenager, Neil would open the bowling for his local South Staffordshire club’s first team where cricket would play its part in Neil’s development. As a young person playing in a competitive adult league, cricket taught Neil valuable social and communication skills which gave him a tremendous amount of self-worth and confidence that helped him find his ‘tribe’ and build lifelong friendships. Neil even used the value of that formative cricket experience in his job interview at the BBC, which he was successful in getting and worked there for ten years.

Reflecting on this, Neil says:

“I very much understand and appreciate what cricket has done for me as a ‘game’, especially in my formative years as a teenager when I was opening the bowling for Wombourne CC”.

Now Neil works as an Editor in the television industry and has been a freelancer working out of Bristol for the past ten years. The latest series he worked on was David Attenborough’s ‘Mammals’ Natural History programme on BBC 1, editing the ‘Heat’ episode.

Today cricket remains very much a family affair in the Stacey household and the whole family play an active role at their local cricket club, Kingswood Village. Neil’s wife of fifteen years, Nicola, is a qualified assistant coach (Support Coach), their two lovely daughters, Georgina and Lydia, play cricket for the club and Neil is the Lead Youth Co-ordinator.

Neil was instrumental in creating the youth section for Kingswood Village CC where he began with All Stars and Dynamos Cricket. Now in its third year, the youth section has doubled its numbers from it’s first year of implementation where the club now sees over 80 children turning up and enjoying their cricket.

Like any member of the Cricket Collective, Neil knows his cricket club is special, which he puts down to the people being extremely friendly, welcoming, and inclusive. Prior to Neil setting up the youth section, Kingswood Village CC had only one team which was a senior team that played Sunday friendlies. Anyone was, and still is, welcome to come along and play for them, whether they play league cricket on a Saturday, haven’t played for twenty years or are just picking up a bat for the first time. The team play for the love of the game and for fun but taking the game seriously enough to be competitive.

With such an inclusive foundation to build on, having started All Stars and Dynamos, the club can now boast a range of Youth League teams. This year this include an U9’s festival team, U11’s boys hardball team, U11’s girls softball team, and an U13’s girls hardball team. As a qualified Level 2 coach (Core Coach), Neil looks after the U11’s boys hardball team and U13’s girls hardball team, with five of the girls from Kingswood Village CC being part of the MCC hub programme. The club now sees a frenzy of youth cricket with a team of volunteer coaches, activators, and parents all descending on the club on a Friday evening, which has connected the club with the local community and school even more than before.

As well as setting up the youth section and coaching, Neil also looks after all the youth section administration and leads on fundraising for the club. Their next big fundraising project is raising the money to replace their fifty-year square, so it can accommodate the explosion in youth, and particularly Girls’ Cricket at the club.

It is clear being part of the Cricket Collective holds a special place in Neil’s life and he heartily recommends people should volunteer at their local club saying:

“The sense of reward you get when you see the fun and joy cricket can bring to people and how it can help people socially, physically, and mentally is incredible.”

But for Neil, volunteering in cricket and being part of the Cricket Collective is more than that, as coaching reminds him of how much the game has done for him and how it helped set him up for the challenges of life.

Neil says:

“I volunteer because I love, through coaching, training, and playing matches, seeing the kids developing a passion for and falling in love with the game, just like I did over thirty years ago. I can see when they are ‘bitten by the bug’ and I can see when they grow in confidence and their self-esteem is boosted. I can see the fun and joy it brings into everyone’s lives, not just the kids but their parents and carers too. I think cricket can be a transformative ‘tool’ for a local community, and that’s what keeps me volunteering day in day out, year on year.”

If Neil’s story has inspired you to be part of the Cricket Collective and volunteer at your local cricket club, then speak with a member of your club’s Committee to see how you can help.

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