Swardeston’s David Thomas has won a national ECB award carrying off a cricket OSCA.
The OSCAs (Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards) are aimed at recognising those volunteers who give much of their time to cricket.
The former Swardeston all-rounder, who gave up playing at the end of the 2004 season, was presented with his award at Lord’s on Monday by England’s Vikram Solanki.
Thomas, 42, was one of three shortlisted in the Local Community Linkscategory, one of seven OSCAs awarded. This rewards those who have “created sustainable partnerships with volunteer co-ordinators, schools, voluntary organisations, inner city and deprived areas and relationships with other sports.”
The other two candidates on the shortlist were Neil Edwards, of Lancashire andDavid Cumming, of Berkshire.
Thomas set up and currently organises Swardeston’s schools coaching initiative. Started in 1999 when Thomas was appointed Swardeston’s director of coaching, it has grown to provide coaching in 2005 to 12 junior schools and one senior school.
Thomas said: “I am delighted our scheme has been recognised in this way. This is fantastic news for Swardeston and also a big thank you must go to the scheme’s sponsors Design Company of Norwich and Sportsmatch.
“Since Design Company’s involvement in 2004 the scheme has really taken off as their financial support has enabled us to provide cut-price coaching to more than 300 youngsters each year,” he added.
“We use fully-qualified and CRB-checked coaches and I must pay tribute to those involved in the scheme. Jaden Hatwell has earned rave reviews from school heads for his coaching in the junior school scheme over the past two years.
“This summer former Zimbabawe international Richard Sims won great praise for his time at Norwich School and last summer we were lucky to have New Zealand Test batsman Mathew Sinclair work at the school and he proved a great success too.”
Thomas also thanked the Norfolk Cricket Board for backing the club’s scheme through an endorsement from county development officer Godfrey Batley.
Thomas continued: “We are very passionate about youth development at Swardeston as shown by the success of our Swardeston/CEYMS Under-15 team who, under the expert guidance of the club’s youth cricket manager Stuart Shearing, reached the last four in the country out of more than 1600 teams in the Portman National Club Championship.
“This also has been very visible in our East Anglian Premier League team this year with more than three quarters of the team under 22.”
Two of the members of that team, Robert Newton and Bud Bailey, have played for England Under-15s this year with Bailey becoming one of only four players this year to be presented with a Telegraph/Bunbury scholarship award. Both look certain to tour South Africa with the team next year.
“Our Mid Norfolk Sunday League team has completed the league and cup double fielding a side with nine players under 22 in it. The newly formed Swardeston/CEYMS Sharks also reached the final of the inaugural Bob Carter Junior Cup for Under-17 teams,” added Thomas.
“We have also achieved the national ClubMark status this year and been made a focus club by the Norfolk Cricket Board. ClubMark accreditation proves Swardeston is a club that parents can send their children to safe in the knowledge they will be well looked after and enjoy their cricket,” he continued.
Pete Ackerley, ECB head of development, said: “I’m always astonished by the amount of time that people donate to cricket at recreational level and the OSCAs is our way of giving something back to them and showing our appreciation of their work.
“Without these volunteers, cricket would definitely not be in the position it is in today. Every cricketer, professional or amateur, owes something to a volunteer, who tirelessly give their time to the game for the benefit of others and we, at the ECB, want to give recognition for their continued hard work.”
Lee Bailey, NatWest sponsorship manager, said: “2005 is a particularly proud year for NatWest as we celebrate supporting English cricket for 25 years and, together with the ECB, we fully recognise the valuable contribution made by volunteers to the development of cricket in this country.”
Schools in the Swardeston scheme: Junior – West Earlham, Bawburgh, Aslacton, Hethersett, Newton Flotman, Long Stratton, Carleton Rode, Tacolneston, Wreningham, Saxlingham Nethergate, Cringleford, Mulbarton; Senior – Norwich School.