Northants celebrates its outstanding volunteers

The NatWest Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards aim to reward the contribution that volunteers make to the game. Nominations were received for volunteers from the traditional cricketing environments (clubs, leagues, boards), and in addition from emerging environments such as Higher and Further Education, Community Programmes, Workplaces and Recreational Park Leagues.

On Thursday 3rd August, the winners of each category were invited to the presentation evening that took place during Northants Steelbacks brilliant win over Lancashire Lightning in the Natwest T20 Blast. The winners were presented with their certificates by Northants ex player David Capel before enjoying a sit-down meal before the start of the game.

Not only did the winners gain recognition from Northants Recreational Cricket for all their hard work, they will all be nominated towards the National OSCAs and be invited to attend an award ceremony at Lords on Monday 9th October.

Northants OSCAs Winners for 2017:

The winner of “Heartbeat of the Club” 2017 is Middleton Cheney Cricket Clubs Craig Merry. This award is for that special volunteer that a club simply couldn’t do without, often the roles carried out behind the scenes. They often undertake a number of different roles, and are always there to lend a hand. For 10 years Craig has been the driving force behind the club’s progression from 1 senior and 1 junior side to now fielding 3 senior and 5 junior sides. He has been 1st team captain and has been instrumental in recruiting players to allow the club to grow, as well as leading the recent league move to improve playing standards and conditions to allow them to retain our better players. He coaches the junior teams at the club, and with 75% of the players in Saturday sides coming through the youth ranks, it is Craig that needs to be thanked for this.  He spends hours each work assisting with ground preparation and often uses up his holiday allocation from work to carry out jobs at the club. Craig’s activities on behalf of the club is endless and without him the club would struggle to function.

Craig Merry

“Get the Game on” is an award that is designed to highlight the “game day” contribution that is made by a key volunteer at a club.  It is for someone who shows significant dedication of time and commitment to their cricket club, undertaking a number of different roles on match days. This year’s “get the Game on” award goes to Mark Poucher and Debbie Bailey from Stewart and Lloyds Cricket Club. Mark is the driving force behind the Club ably supported by Debbie. They complement each other perfectly with Mark working outside the Clubhouse and Debbie inside the Clubhouse with both working on the Club’s Committee.  On matchday both come to the fore with Mark organising the pitch including the coverage and working his socks off to get games on. Indeed this year on two occasions Mark has managed to get games on when all other games in the area have fallen foul to the weather. This is without doubt because he believes passionately in the ‘Get The Game On’ ethic. On those two occasions Debbie helped keep players entertained with an amazing early tea. A great view from the pavilion has been Mark out in the rain making sure all is as covered as possible and returning with a big grin. He especially likes to see the youngsters playing and goes above and beyond for the game. As ever with key volunteers both Mark and Debbie double on matchdays as bar staff , changing room assistants and of course making sure all of the Club facilities are open and ready for business (including the toilets!!). Debbie makes sure all families are welcome at the Club for youth nights and she has developed a real family friendly feel to the Club. This also manifests itself with a number of organised social evenings where the Bar-b-que takes centre stage. On top of all this work Mark also runs the youth section and can be found doing all the obvious volunteer roles.

Mark & Debbie fro S&L

Bethany Dickens of Burton Latimer Cricket Club is the winner of the “Young Volunteer” award for 2017. This award recognises an individual aged between 16-25 years old who has made a positive effect/impact on their club, group or within an organisation. Beth has been a vital volunteer at Burton Latimer Cricket club for the past couple of years, she helps assist at a number of junior training sessions (U9s, U11s & U13s), umpires in matches, scores when needed and also plays for a couple of teams for the club (LWS, U15s and the ladies 1st XI). A couple of years ago Beth expressed an interest in helping out and since then she has given up many hours at the club to help out the younger members. Not only has Beth got to think about her own cricket, she has been doing some important exams this year however she still finds time to head up to Burton and lend a hand. Northants Recreational Cricket set up some girl’s hubs this year and Beth offered her services which was greatly appreciated by the lead coaches. In March of this year Beth undertook the ECB Coach Support Workers course and has already expressed an interest in taking her coaching qualifications further. Even though the majority of her time is spent at the club she also offered her time to help me out with the Northants U11 girls during their winter training sessions.

Beth Dickens

The “Officials” award looks for someone who has visibly increased the quantity of officials in their county and therefore help the sustainability of cricket in England and Wales. The winner of this award for the 2017 season is Gillian White of Irthlingborough, as a club they are not sure how long Gill has been scoring but she married her husband Dick in 1970 who was playing for Irthlingborough and she was certainly scoring then. She scored both Saturdays and Sundays at times and also did the teas for many years.  She had an interest in Irthlingborough as her husband Dick and son Neil were both playing, which meant that sometimes Gill would also score for many of Neil’s youth teams games.  At 70 years old, Gill is still scoring for the 1st XI and also helps out when asked and has been the official score compiler for our Kwik Cricket tournaments for the past two years. Whilst scoring on a Saturday, Gill is keen to find out how the other teams are getting on and is always asking after the progress of the younger players playing in senior teams after watching her son progress through the ranks of our club some years ago. Gill has embraced modern technology and now scores using her own laptop and also fills the scores in on the Play Cricket websites as required.

Gill White

The Corby And District Youth Cricket League is the deserved winners of the “Leagues” award for 2017. This award is aimed at recognising the outstanding contribution made by leagues which support and help to increase the incidence and frequency of participation. The C&DYCL has worked towards full Play Cricket integration which has been achieved in 2017. This is no mean feat for a Youth League with various leagues including pairs cricket. Feedback from youth players has been excellent as they have access to their stats and the associated ECB communications. The League always promotes ECB initiatives and has made every effort to ‘Get The Game On’ Indeed the League has shown flexibility in recent times allowing more cricket to be played with the facility for reduced over games and fixture moving. Late player registrations have also been embraced allowing Clubs to bring players in late in the day. All Clubs are encouraged by the League to ‘Get The Game On’ These measures has mean a reduction in games lost to the weather and concessions. The League also has multiple game offers for under 9s, 11s and 13s with both pairs and quick cricket offered. The League has also introduced a managed programme of under 9 Festivals and this has given many of the Clubs offering All Stars to give their participants further opportunities.Whilst the League don’t actively train or recruit umpires or groundsmen they have campaigned with Clubs to promote the roles and offered support to youngsters being introduced into the roles.

Jordon & Jem from the Corby & District Youth Cricket league

Finally to the last category being awarded at this year’s Northants OSCAs which is the “Lifetime Achiever” award. This award received the most nominations from cricket clubs within Northamptonshire, with some very worthy candidates. There can only be one winner however; which is Andy Mayo of Middleton Cheney Cricket Club. Andy is now in his 45th year as a club member, during this time, Andy has played for and captained every junior and senior side in the club at some point. He has held every officer position available including treasurer and secretary (quite often holding both roles), and is currently chairman. Andy has also been the groundsman for over 20 years, carrying on the work started by previously taken on by his father Joe. The club fields 8 teams during the season, and Andy spends a vast amount of time throughout the year working on the ground. He also umpires junior and senior games a number of times a week. Andy was one of the driving forces behind our recent league move to ensure a better playing standard and conditions for our players, to allow us to retain and recruit players. Over the years the club has had a significant number of players progress from junior cricket in to the senior sides. Andy has at times run these sides and the club single handily, even now with a more active committee, he is still heavily involved in the running and coaching of the junior sides.

Andy Mayo

Well done to all of those individuals who were nominated by their clubs for one of the 7 categories in this year’s Natwest OSCAs. Even if you were not successful this year, all your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated by your club as well as Northants Recreational Cricket.

Congratulations on being named as a Northants OSCAs winner for 2017; you will all be automatically nominated towards the National OSCAs and invited to attend an award ceremony at Lords on Monday 9th October. Many congratulations. Further information on this will be sent to you by the ECB via email.