A host of current and former England cricketers including James Anderson, Matthew Prior, Claire Taylor and Michael Vaughan turned out in force to recognise the efforts of grass-roots volunteers at the NatWest Outstanding Service to Cricket awards (OSCAs) for 2011.
The event, which was staged at Lord’s and hosted by BBC Radio Test Match Special commentator Jonathan Agnew, brought together more than 350 people from across the recreational game to celebrate achievements in volunteering roles in eight different categories.
James Anderson and Matthew Prior presented Richard Fowkes from Kegworth CC in Leicestershire with the Lifetime Achievement award. Richard has been the club’s groundsman for thirty years, helping make their pitch one of the best in Leicestershire league cricket. A former player, he also umpires at county Premier League level and has been involved with the club for more than 50 years in a variety of different roles.
The NatWest CricketForce award was presented by Michael Vaughan to Patricia Brown and Karen Shead for their joint efforts in improving the facilities and ground at Notts and Arnold Amateurs CC in Nottinghamshire. Both were highly praised by the judges for their drive and enthusiasm in enlisting help and contributions from local businesses and volunteers.
17-year-old schoolboy George Hawbrook from Stone CC in Staffordshire picked up the Young Volunteer Award from former England wicket-keeper Paul Nixon. A member of the club’s committee, he is head groundsman, has gained his UKCC Level One coaching qualification and also manages one of the club’s junior sides.
A special award, Outstanding Contribution to Disability Cricket, was also presented to The Cricket Federation for People with Disabilities. This award was made in honour of Dick and Fred Wildgoose from Oswestry in Shropshire for their pioneering work in developing opportunities for people with different types of physical and learning disability to play the game.
Paying tribute to the winners, Mike Gatting said: “Volunteers play a vital role in ensuring that our grass-roots game can continue to flourish and these awards are a fantastic way of recognising their contribution.
“It’s thanks to their tireless work and self sacrifice that pitches get prepared, pavilions maintained and cricket teas made. Congratulations to all the winners – you are the unsung heroes of our game and your awards are richly deserved.”
Dominic Warne, Senior Marketing Manager, NatWest, said: "We’re proud to once again be sponsoring the OSCAs. It’s so important to recognise and celebrate the efforts of volunteers at the end of another fantastic season of cricket, something this event does so uniquely. We know that many grassroots clubs would struggle to function without the time, hard work and dedication of these volunteers which is one of the reasons why we launched the NatWest Cricket Club this summer. We’re helping to find the next generation of volunteers and reward those who play an active role in supporting the grassroots of the game.”
Now in its ninth year, the NatWest OSCAs forms part of the ECB’s Volunteering programme which gives cricket clubs advice on recruiting, educating and rewarding volunteers in all areas of the recreational game.
2011 NatWest OSCAs winners:
Behind the Scenes: Keith Gray, Yorkshire
Building Partnerships: Taj Butt, Yorkshire
Leagues and Boards: Christopher Whitehouse, Surrey
Lifetime Achiever: Richard Fowkes, Leicestershire
NatWest CricketForce: Patricia Brown, Karen Sheed, Nottinghamshire
Officiating – Umpires and Scorers – Mervyn Goode, Sussex
Young Volunteer – George Hawbrook, Staffordshire
Outstanding Contribution to Disability Cricket – Cricket Federation for People with Disabilities.