“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” Mark Twain I love sport. I love volunteering. I love being outside surrounded by beautiful countryside especially in sunny weather. Cricket ticks all these boxes for me. I have always loved cricket. My younger brother and I would relish the opportunity to play outside all day around the boundary or disappear off to explore unknown territory of surrounding fields and villages. Fondly reminiscent of these times, I encouraged my husband to join a local cricket club when our children were young so they too could experience this wonderful freedom of endless exploring, being active all day and watching their father play a sport whilst growing up. A cricket club is the collaboration of all ages and walks of life coming together to form and play as one team. No other sport achieves this unique quality and opportunity of accommodating different levels of ability and age across one team. But cricket offers more than just the sport, it offers a community for everyone not just for the players, for their families and friends, for the spectators and for all the volunteers who run the club and care for the grounds. In November 2011, I was elected onto the cricket club’s committee as Social Secretary and Membership Secretary. Keen to make a good first impression I researched the internet for ideas of how to increase membership numbers for our club when I stumbled across NatWest CricketForce (NWCF), sport’s biggest voluntary initiative which combines the power of volunteering with DIY-style improvements just like on TV programmes DIY SOS, Changing Rooms and GroundForce. In 2012, I was awarded an Outstanding Service to Cricket Award (aka an OSCA!) by the single national governing body for all cricket in England and Wales, the ECB, for making a positive and sustainable impact on a cricket club, going ‘beyond the call of duty’, galvanising club members and providing a legacy of future stability and growth for the club and the community. Inspiring and mobilising a team of over 150 volunteers to engage in sport’s biggest voluntary initiative meant that together we improved the facilities of the cricket club, helped raise its profile and increased its membership numbers. Savings, donations from over 50 local and national companies, skilled and unskilled hours totalled over £36k. My enthusiasm and positive approach instilled commitment, confidence and a sense of achievement in others. Yes, I won a national award but the true winners were the club members and the fact that the club is continuing to thrive today. It put our cricket club back on the map and helped to recruit new and lapsed playing and social members in the process. Being part of the team that made ‘the transformation no-one dreamt was possible’ was invaluable and gave everyone a great sense of community spirit. Everyone involved was keen to point out the bit that they painted or show off the Chris Tavaré ceiling to visiting clubs. The key to our success was effective early planning, group enthusiasm for the project and maintaining a strong focus on the objectives which we wanted to achieve. It was so much fun and a great team-building activity for the club. It wasn't just about the renovations and improvements, it was about involving everyone in the family and making the club the true hub of the community. NWCF is the biggest volunteering initiative in sport and why wouldn't you want to be part of that? “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller Ten years on, the cricket club is thriving. The ground has never looked better. The clubhouse is rented out to a preschool during the week which provides the club with a regular income leveraging the space of the club and grounds in its downtime and new junior and senior members have joined us year on year. The club is run entirely on the efforts of its members as volunteers. It is a true community. “Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless.” Sherry Anderson My children are now in their late teens, my son and husband play together in the same team and together as a family we remain a part of the wonderful community that our cricket club continues to provide us. That is what cricket does, it brings family together and holds it together for generations! Howzat for a true sense of community spirit? Focus on Community!
ACTION POINT Are you part of a community? What skills do you have that your local community could benefit from you as a volunteer?