Cricket legends show their support for Duncan Fearnley on his President’s Charity Day at New Road

Four ex-England captains, the MCC chief executive, former chief executives of ECB and ICC, a cricket broadcaster and a local cricketing hero were among the great and the good of the cricketing world at Worcestershire County Cricket Club’s County Ground last Thursday (19 May).

The star-studded lunch, during the second day of the LV= County Cricket Championship match between Worcestershire and Durham, was held in honour of the new President of Worcestershire CCC, Duncan Fearnley, and his Charity Day raised funds for ‘Chance to Shine supported by Brit Insurance’ and Worcester Youth.

Against the picturesque and quintessentially English backdrop of the County Ground, cricket legends Sir Ian Botham, Bob Willis, Graham Gooch, MJK Smith and Graeme Hick, shared their stories of Duncan at the lunch chaired by Mark Nicholas. The President himself reflected on his time at Worcestershire and also spoke passionately about the charitable campaign, Chance to Shine, which he, Nicholas and Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, dreamt up at the County Ground eight years ago. Speaking at the lunch, Fearnley said, “Chance to Shine is really close to my heart. It is wonderful to think how many kids have got into cricket through this programme.”

To showcase Chance to Shine, over a hundred children from nine local state schools involved in the programme took part in a round-robin competition on the outfield during the lunch interval of the County Championship match. One school, St George’s Catholic Primary School, entered two mixed teams and really captured the spirit of the day. They played their matches skilfully and competitively, but at the same time very sportingly; as one mum on the boundary commented, “They’re very good at praising one another!”

Despite losing their opening game, captain Sam Othen, 10, stoically said, “You play worse if you don’t play in the right spirit. You can be a bad winner as well as a good loser and we’ve plenty of more matches to play.”

His team mate, Lucy Clayton, 11, described the benefit of Chance to Shine at their school: “We never used to play cricket at lunchtime or after school, but we do now. I like cricket because it’s for girls as well as boys.” Joanna Bennell, 11, also from St George’s said, “It’s never boring, cricket, there’s always something to do.

The local schools that took part in the competition were: Fairfield Community Primary School, Lyppard Grange Primary, Oldbury Park Primary, Perdiswell Primary School, St Barnabus C of E Primary, St George’s Catholic Primary School, Warndon Primary School and Westacre Middle School.

Cricket Development Manager for Worcestershire Cricket Board, Tom Hill, helped organise the youngsters’ tournament and said, “It’s brilliant for the children to show off the skills that they’ve learned through Chance to Shine coaching. One day some of them may be holding their own President’s Day at New Road in 50 years’ time, who knows?”

Local cricket star Graeme Hick paid tribute to Fearnley, describing him as “a great servant to the Club. Everyone here, myself included, are pleased that he’s back involved. It’s a great honour for him and he deserves it,” said Hick. He was responsible for changing the expectations of the Club when he brought in Botham and Dilley. The cross-section of people here today, from players to administrators who’ve come from all over the country, reflects the person Duncan is. Only he could bring together such a rich blend of people.

The event was supported by local firms MB Insolvency, Bushwackers, Harrison Clark Solicitors, HaywardWright Ltd and helped raised over £10,000 for the two charities.

Duncan Fearnley summed up his affection for the Club and the game when he said: “I’ve spent 50 years of my life at Worcestershire. Cricket has given me so many friendships and I’ve had such a great life out of cricket. I’ll always love Worcestershire, I will always love the game.”

It was a perfect day for a true ambassador of the sport and even Durham plundering nearly 600 runs against Worcestershire couldn’t take the shine off the day.

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive emails about our latest news, appeals, events and volunteering opportunities.