If you said to me when I first started coaching “one day, you’ll be the Leicestershire and Rutland Young Volunteer of the year” I wouldn’t have ever believed them! But that’s exactly what has happened to me this year.
Since the age of 16 (6 years ago), I have been coaching cricket at my local cricket club, Cropston Cricket Club, developing the next generation of young players. Unexpectedly, our club secretary and treasurer nominated me for my work within the junior section as a way of showing recognition for all the effort I had put in. Although, I wasn’t aware that I had been nominated for anything, receiving the two letters in the post made it extra special; one from Leicestershire and Rutland Cricket, congratulating me on my success and the other from the ECB. I had been invited to a celebratory day at Lord’s Cricket ground in London, all I had to do was confirm my attendance… how could I refuse?
On my way to Lords
Monday 12th October 2015, the thought of travelling down in the morning by train seemed to be the most terrifying part of the day, but I was proved wrong and could not have been simpler; a train from Leicester to St Pancras and various modes of transport options available to get to Lords.
Standing outside the main gates with my invitation in my hand, making me feel incredibly important as I approach the entrance I was greeted with a warm welcome before receiving my ‘VIP’ badge, which also had my name and table number printed on. Walking around the Nursery Pavilion with a complementary glass of champagne and nibbles, being ushered around by waiters and waitresses and guided tours around the ground outside too, made the waiting time until the main event pass very quickly.
Entering the main event resembled something that could only be related to a scene from a Disney film with a hint of sophistication. Making me, being the first person in the room, see the full spectacular view which the hospitality staff and organisers had produced to celebrate everyone’s achievements. After finding my table and sitting directly in front of the main stage where all the famous cricketing and non-cricketing speakers would be standing, gave me a rush of excitement; especially hearing the wise words and humour delivered by the MC of the event Jonathan Agnew.
Every category had three ‘top nominees’, introduced and awarded by Agnew then presented by the guest speakers. The guest speakers included stars such as: Eoin Morgan, Richard Kettleborough, Charlotte Edwards, Jim Carter and Andrew Strauss were just a few of the big names that came to reveal their thoughts about our work at grassroots level, as well as taking selfie’s and signing memorabilia with the volunteers.
Throughout the presentation, a three course meal was delivered, during intervals, by the waiting staff. Each meal was well presented and full of flavour, starter was a vegetable based salad, followed by a chicken main course served with vegetables and an outstanding desert of banana and date pudding with banana ice cream and a toffee sauce. Alongside the meal was both sparkling and still water and red and white wine, all complementary of course!
After the meals, presentation and drink were consumed individual boxes containing an ECB OSCA flask was given to each member invited to the event, even the celebs got one! To round of the entire day everyone was invited back into the welcome area where the bar was open to anyone who wished to stay and enjoy being in one of the most prestigious cricket ground in the world, and this whole experience was opened up for me all because of my nomination by a club member. I would wholly recommend nominating anyone that gives an extreme amount of time and effort into grassroots cricket to win an ECB OSCA.
Ethan Hawkins took a selfie with Andrew Strauss