Cholmondeley Celebrates Celebrity Cricket 10-fer
The organisers of Cholmondeley Castle Celebrity Cricket were delighted that nearly 550 people attended this event and we all wondered where the past 10 years had gone…?
The foundations for such an event start with the main sponsors. This year we were lucky enough to have the generous support of Box-It, the document management and storage company, Storrar Cowdry, the Chester-based solicitors and JW Lees, the Brewers from Middleton, near Oldham. Together with a substantial donation from the Anne, Duchess of Westminster Foundation, it was a great start for the event.
Nick Hancock has been actively and enthusiastically involved for all 10 years and again organised an array of stars. Gordon Burns, the veteran newsreader and Krypton Factor host, kept the spectators informed and entertained from the commentary box. We had been concerned about potential rain, but again we were lucky and the captains decided that a 30-over match would be ideal. As ever there were many cricketing ‘highlights’. Early in the morning – clearly excited at the prospect –Michael Owen had tweeted pictures of himself in full cricketing attire; and to be fair to Michael, he looked the part in the field.
Another ex-professional footballer, Rory Delap (he of the long throw), was proving himself to be a tricky medium-quick bowler, so much so that he cleaned bowled ex-England and Derbyshire cricketer, Kim Barnett, very early in the innings. Kim completed an odd personal day by removing Michael Owen for zero, which raised no applause from the crowd whatsoever, a crowd that included Michael’s mum and dad, who have supported the event for many years. Martyn Ball, Gus MacKay and former Lord’s Taverners President, Mike Gatting all put in solid performances, but the Gary Speed Man of the Match Award went to David Minchin for a superb all-round display – watched proudly by Louise, his newsreading wife. Nick Hancock dared to suggest that David would now be more than just Mr Louise Minchin!
Mike Bushell (BBC Breakfast), Mark ‘Chappers’ Chapman and Nick Hancock himself all put in good and entertaining performances and as ever, we’re not sure that the cricket gets in the way of the lunch – or lunch, the cricket. Getting nearly 550 people to their tables is always a challenge, but succeed we did. Box-It MD, Peter Willis, was down to say Grace, but found himself usurped, quite rightly, by the Reverend Tim Heywood, vicar of neighbouring village, Bunbury. Mark Fearnall, Taverner and event organiser for 10 years, admitted to the audience that he was an amateur in these matters – not that it needed saying – but tried to explain the various raffles and auction. It was fantastic that we had a 12-litre bottle of champagne, courtesy of Cruise Nightclub of Chester. And for a £5 raffle ticket, prizes individually worth £500 and more were on offer.
So we moved on to the auction, conducted for the 10th year by the fabulous Adam Partridge. Adam is both talented and entertaining and we soon knew that the auction was getting generous support. It is impossible to list all of the prizes, but stunning items had been generously donated by: His Grace the Duke of Westminster, Simon Lee-Jones, JW Lees Brewery, Manchester United Managing Director Richard Arnold, Addhire Car Rental, Chester Racecourse, Manor House Stables and the Owen family, Emirates Airline, Griffco PR, Storrar Cowdry, Landover and Peter Willis and Box-It among many others.
To break up the frenzied bidding we enjoyed absolutely hilarious entertainment from Paul Boardman, voted the worst-ever footballer to play for Plymouth Argyle! He really had the audience in raptures, and by this time, the players, now back on the field, were also tumbling around laughing!
The second half of the auction was undertaken by Mark Fearnall, who was holding on to an exciting secret about one of the lots. Not in Partridge’s class, but with willing enthusiasm, Mark moved to the final lot of the day. The audience was brought to total silence as Mark introduced two guests, Tim and Kirsty Craig – it was a James Bond item, so the clue was in the surname as Tim and Kirsty, who have long supported the Taverners in the Northwest, are father and step mum to Daniel Craig!
We had hoped for many months that something could be pulled out of the fire, and on the very morning of the event, Tim and Kirsty received confirmation that we had secured two tickets to the world premiere of the forthcoming Bond film, ‘Spectre’! With top hotel accommodation included, Mark asked for £5,000 and between 12 and 15 hands went up immediately! A confusing muddle was avoided by a strong bid of £10,000 from David Millar, and after a three-way fight with loyal supporter James Wright and Richard ‘Arnie’ Arnold, the latter came out on top with a stunning bid of £14,000. Rapturous applause followed.
High tea was served at 5pm and the raffles were drawn, with prizes and thanks handed out aplenty. Another great day for the Lord’s Taverners in the Northwest Region.