Stars, sun and the sound of willow on leather

Reporter:

Rob Bellis

UNDER glorious blue skies, what could be better than the sound of leather on willow in the majestic grounds of Cholmondeley Castle?

And, as well as the action on the pitch, there was plenty of Cheshire glitz and glamour at the Lords Taverners celebrity cricket match.

The fifth installment of this now annual event raised funds for the charity which is this year celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Team captains for the day were former Wales football captain Gary Speed and TV presenter Nick Hancock, best known for presenting comedy sports quiz, They Think It’s All Over.

Interestingly, although he hasn’t played for many years, in his youth, Speed, who is from Flintshire, was considered better at cricket than he was at football.

“I haven’t really played for about 15 years,” he explained.

“But I did play cricket for the Wales schools team and I didn’t get into the football team then. I was an all-rounder in my day.

“It is a fantastic cause, I grew up playing Lords Taverners competitions as a kid,” he added.

A number of celebrities and sports personalities turned out for the event.

Among the faces from TV was Robin Hood actor Gordon Kennedy and former Doctor Who and Emmerdale star Fraser Hines.

Among the sportsmen were former Wolves striker Don Goodman and cricketer Neal Radford.

As well as the cricket and wining and dining, spectators and players also had the opportunity to bid on some fantastic lots in the charity auction such as a Pink Floyd gold disc, a signed Nelson Mandela autobiography, Wimbledon centre court tickets and much more.

Taking on the duties on the rostrum – as well as taking part in the game – was auctioneer and Taverners’ member Adam Partridge.

“I’ve played every one of these,” he said. “I regard myself as a stalwart of the event.

“They ask me along to do the auction and we usually raise a good few thousand pounds. It’s a brilliant cause.”

The match was won by Gary Speed’s team, who scored 206 runs, against Hancock’s team’s tally of 187 after a 28-over match.

The outstanding player award went to Jordan Evans, from Northop, a Welsh under 17s player and captain of Ellesmere College cricket team.

The man of the match was ex-Aston Villa and England footballer Steve Froggatt.

Lords Taverners was founded in 1950 by a group of actors in the Tavern at Lord’s cricket ground.

Their aim was to give something back to the game they loved by encouraging young people to participate in cricket, especially those who perhaps would not otherwise have the opportunity.

The charity’s first chairman was Sir John Mills, one of Britain’s best-loved film stars.

Over the years the Lords Taverners mission has developed with money being raised through the work of members and volunteers across the country, including its celebrity network with events such as the game at Cholmondeley on Friday.

Half of the funds awarded goes to cricket projects – providing equipment and competitions for those young people playing the game at grass roots level in schools and clubs.

The other half goes to special needs schools or organisations, supporting their work to encourage youngsters to take part in recreational activities and disabled sports.

The charity supplies specially adapted minibuses at a rate of almost one every week and is also one of the leading funders of sports wheelchairs.

The cricket match and associated hospitality raised about £40,000 for the charity while a spectacular Diamond Jubilee Ball, which was held at Cholmondeley on Saturday night, boosted the total.

See full story in the Leader

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