Charities 'overwhelmed' by fans' support on Cricket United Day
Cricket charities paid tribute to England and Australian cricket fans who lent their support to the inaugural Cricket United Day last Friday (23rd August).
Cricket supporters attending the Kia Oval on the third day of the fifth Investec Ashes Test donated over £20,000 – the equivalent of £1 for every fan – to the three beneficiary charities, The Lord’s Taverners, Chance to Shine and PCA Benevolent Fund.
The England cricket team also played a significant part in raising funds for the cricket causes. Their signed Test shirts, bats and the portraits they drew of each other earlier in the summer raised £21,000 and brought the total, to date, for the appeal to just under £45,000 including a donation from Surrey CCC.
England cricketers and management also wore special adidas shirts embroidered with the Cricket United logo for the day – the first time a charity’s logo has been added to an England Test shirt – which helped to raise awareness for Cricket United.
Cricket United is a joint fundraising appeal by the UK's three cricket charities which share a common purpose to improve people's lives through cricket.
England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive, David Collier, said, “ECB would like to thank everyone who helped make Cricket United Day such a fantastic success. This was a terrific concept and an excellent way for cricket fans to show their support for three very good cricketing causes.”
Former England captains Mike Gatting and Andrew Strauss helped to get the day under way by raising the Cricket United flag on the Pavilion, after receiving it from Surrey chief executive Richard Gould.
Commenting on the day, Gould said, “It was a great honour for the Kia Oval to be part of Cricket United and help in raising such significant funds for three really good causes. The atmosphere around the ground was fantastic and it added a great extra element to what was already a great occasion.”
Many cricket fans showed their support by wearing something blue to the ground on the day, buying the official Cricket United T-shirt or waving their Investec 4 and 6 sky blue cards; giving the Kia Oval a distinct blue feel.
Presenters from Sky Sports, Channel 5 and BBC’s Test Match Special all wore the official T.M. Lewin blue tie and the media’s backing, in general, was instrumental in making the first year of the joint cricket appeal a success.
Interviews with the chief executives from the three charities on Sky Sports and Test Match Special during the day helped to set the scene and explain the background and the aims of Cricket United.
Paul Robin, chief executive of The Lord’s Taverners said, “It was a great thrill for all of us involved to see how well received Cricket United Day was by the cricket community, media and the general public. We are very grateful to all who supported us especially ECB, Surrey CCC and the sponsors involved with the England Cricket team and Investec Ashes series.”
Wasim Khan, chief executive of Chance to Shine added, “We’ve seen from previous charity days how generous cricket supporters are, but we were overwhelmed by the response for the joint appeal. It really seems to have struck a chord.”
Angus Porter, PCA chief executive commented, “Cricket United did exactly what its name suggests. It not only united cricket’s charities, but its other stakeholders too, with a common purpose which showed our great game at its best. We are grateful for all the enthusiastic support we have received, and look forward to making Cricket United a regular date in the cricketing calendar”.
Other highlights from the day include:
• Children from The Lord’s Taverners and Chance to Shine enjoying on-pitch activity during the lunch interval with former cricketers;
• PCA ambassadors Mark Ramprakash and Dominic Cork thanking fans and sponsors, including Marston’s and Laithwaite’s, for their support;
• Celebrities and cricketers including Stephen Fry, Luke Wright, Graham Onions wearing a Cricket United tie and tweeting supportive messages;
• ITV weather presenter Lucy Verasamy handing out blue cups of Yorkshire Tea and the official England brew turning its branding from red to blue for the day;
• Opera singer Sean Ruane performing Jerusalem in a blue suit and tie; and
• Test Match Special commentator Henry “Blowers” Blofeld dressed top to toe in blue!
Funds raised from the day will be split evenly between the three charities and will help:
• The Lord’s Taverners provide wheelchair-accessible minibuses to special educational needs schools in the UK.
Young disabled people spend, on average, less than half as much time undertaking sport compared to all young people due to lack of opportunities, with 44 per cent of UK special schools never receiving cricket coaching
• Chance to Shine to deliver competitive cricket opportunities to thousands more schoolchildren.
Before 2005, less than 10 per cent of state schools played any form of meaningful cricket. Today, through Chance to Shine, over two million children are playing competitive cricket in a third of primary and secondary state schools.
• PCA Benevolent Fund run a confidential helpline, providing advice and treatment to players suffering from mental health issues.
In the first twelve months following their retirement 36 per cent of cricketers admit to having sometimes or frequently suffered from feelings of depression or despair.
Cricket fans can still support the day by making an online donation via the Cricket United website, www.cricketunited.co.uk
A selection of pictures from the day can be found at flickr.com/photos/cricketunited