An update from CEO, Mark Curtin

Hi all,

During the summer, I managed to attend two of the three Wicketz Residentials which took place at Worcester University (boys U15s) and Repton School (all girls), it was great to see so many young people experiencing being away from home, some for the first time, meeting new people, making friends and achieving really impactful outcomes such as learning how to be part of a team, problem solving and many, many other great skills. It was lovely to see supporters and members of the Tavs come along. I had the pleasure of Tony and Jackie Wall’s company whilst visiting the Worcester residential and Tavs legend Johnno Gordon, ‘fresh’ from the Walk The Ashes challenge, came along to the Repton residential. A huge thanks to those members who took the time to see where their own incredible fundraising efforts go towards making a big difference to young people’s lives. This summer’s residentials saw nearly 300 young people, incorporating participants from across all 17 Wicketz projects (with nearly 100 girls at the Repton festival), attend – our biggest number yet.

The festivals exist to bring young people from across the country together to play cricket, provide participants with a unique opportunity to spend time away from home and gain access to excellent cricket facilities. Plus, the benefit of empowering and educational workshops on relevant social issues.

The impact these events have cannot be understated and I’d like to pay a huge thank you to Wicketz Programme Manager, Dan Wilson (who put in an incredible number of hours to bring the festivals together), the team who supported him and all our Development Officers who helped to not just run these events but have such an impact on participants through them to.

Wicketz is playing a huge role in making the game accessible for groups of young people who may not be able to find a way to play the game otherwise and the same goes for our disability cricket offer, which received a huge boost from an announcement made by the ECB this month.

In the last academic year, we were able to deliver cricket in 400 new schools for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), benefiting around 13,000 children. And two weeks ago, the ECB announced that they would be increasing their funding for our disability cricket offer, enabling us to deliver in an additional 200 SEND schools this school year, reaching another 7,000 students living with a disability with a 50% increase in funding from £400,000 to £600,000, in addition to the £500,000 we receive for our Super 1s programmes from them. This now makes the ECB our largest single funder. A huge well done to everyone at Lord’s Taverners who has made this possible. This fantastic news is part of an additional £2million injection from the ECB over the next two and a half years into their five cricket charity partners, as part of the drive to make cricket the country’s most inclusive sport and help people from marginalized communities to overcome the barriers highlighted in the recent report by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC).

We’re seeing and hearing every day from teachers, parents and carers the impact this crucial work is delivering – not just in the school environment but everyday life to. We’re very grateful to the ECB for their fantastic support in helping us to continue growing our reach and impact. Disability cricket is making great progress, as was showcased by the Disability Premier League Finals Day being aired on Sky Cricket for the second year running in August and we’re excited to be playing our part in its continued growth.

In other areas of our work, the Taverners cricket XI have just brought their season to a close with their final fixture of the year against Tring Park. Other recent fixtures included the same venue hosting our inaugural match against the Disability 40 champions Yorkshire and we held a shortened, yet very entertaining, match against the Duke of Norfolk’s XI at the beautiful Arundel Castle. Huge thanks to Merv Ramsay and everyone who has supported him throughout the 2023 cricket season in organising fixtures, while raising both funds and awareness.

There are a plethora of events approaching fast as we enter autumn and the winter months. There are still a small number of tickets available for our ever-popular Long Room Concert on 27 October and tickets are now on sale for our Christmas Lunch at the Park Plaza on the first Monday of December, where we will have England’s most successful and most capped England player World Cup winner Sarah Hunter. I know all our regional volunteers will also be busy putting the finishing touches to their remaining events for the year, so please do what you can to support the charity and the regional teams near you in the coming months at what will be brilliant and entertaining fundraisers.

We have had feedback recently from a number of members and supporters about ticket pricing for our events. This is a challenge for us as inflationary rises we have seen across the general economy impacts everything that we do as a charity – especially our events. The cost of third-party supplier labour (e.g. venue staff), food, beverages and services such as air conditioning, heating, lighting and other utilities required to run events have all risen significantly, in some cases even beyond the rates of inflation we have seen at 10-12% in the UK for the last 12 months and beyond.

Food and beverage inflation in particular has been running closer to 20-30% in the hospitality sector. The impact of this is that this has to be reflected in the event ticket costs so that we are not operating at a loss going into what are largely fundraising events for the charity. We do not want to charge people extra, especially members, but the reality is that if we do not events become unviable. This is coupled by a general trend in the charity sector with less people attending events and less money per person being spent on auction items, raffle tickets and other fundraising activities – quite simply because people have less money in their pockets for the same reasons related to inflation and the cost-of-living impacts this is having.

Therefore, we are doing all we can to innovate, seek donations from people and businesses. We have had some success on this front and are very grateful to those who can help us. Other ideas include reducing ticket prices by not including alcohol (a very large contributor to inflation) and giving guests the choice to purchase their own amongst many others. Our own costs are also increasing for the same reasons and as we head into another winter, the cost at community cricket programme level for indoor venues is a challenge and something we are always seeking ways to reduce with our partners at county cricket boards and clubs across the country. We have some solutions, and we are working on those but I hope this helps many of you who have questioned and challenged us on this matter recently and goes some way to demonstrating the challenges that we face.

I’d like to finish by paying a couple of tributes. Firstly, to Trustee and long-term member Alistair Subba Row who will be stepping down from his position on the board. Alistair has been an integral part of the board, none more so than in his current role in advising and supporting the charity with our upcoming office move. A huge thank you to Alistair for your contributions to the charity and the board during your six years in the role.

Finally, we were very sad to hear that former President and broadcast legend Sir Michael Parkinson’s had passed away in August. Parky was one of a kind. You could not meet a nicer person and no one would ever turn down the invite to be interviewed by Sir Michael, as we found out to our benefit while he was President when he asked his friends in the entertainment world to be guests at our fundraisers. I know he was brilliant when engaging with young people on our cricket programmes and the staff team here at the Taverners during his time as President in 2015-2018, and we’re now discussing how we can best pay tribute to Parky next year. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Sir Michael’s son Mike this week, we talked about the amazing life and career his dad had and his love for and commitment to the Lord’s Taverners. Mike is keen to get involved with a tribute event, so watch this space early next year for more details.

Thanks again for all of your support and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes,


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