Essex Freemasons have approved a grant of £15,000 to the County’s Cricket Foundation to help fund a programme to develop wheelchair cricket, enabling people with a disability to take an active part in the sport
The money, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), will enable the Essex Cricket Foundation to help develop the skills of disabled cricketers, particularly children and adapt the cricketing environment for all levels of ability.
The grant will particularly cover the cost of a specialist Wheelchair Cricket Coach who will be employed to run the sessions for the project. Currently, there are between four to 10 players attending regular sessions and the aim is to get a core of 10 to 12 taking part each week and to gets sessions going at further locations in Essex.
Rodney Bass, OBE, Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons, commented: ‘We have seen through the Invictus Games that wheelchair users are capable of anything which is why I am particularly delighted to have been able to make this donation on behalf of our members.
‘It will help those with disabilities to overcome obstacles that have previously prevented them taking part in the sport and I hope that wheelchair users who enjoy cricket will take advantage of this opportunity to learn the more practical skills via the Essex Cricket Foundation.’
Wheelchair cricket is a new format of the game played indoors. The game is designed to be played all year round by participants who require sport wheelchairs. Essex Cricket Foundation is now looking at venues across the County that already have these chairs to encourage as many as possible to take part.
Patrick Ward, Community Engagement Manager for Essex Cricket, added: ‘The basic equipment for wheelchair cricket includes plastic stumps, a compound rubber ball, fielding aids, cones and an adapted bat.
‘The bat is a shorter version of a standard cricket bat and the handles will be such that it will suit both one handed and two handed batsmen. The bat can also be lightweight and will reduce the degree of difficulty for the batsmen to score runs. Now that we have this Grant from Essex Freemasons it will help us expand the sport to wheelchair users and make a huge difference across the County.’
Wheelchair cricket sessions will be held at established sports centres which are fully accessible. The Foundation will seek to work in partnership with centres, when setting up sessions, to keep the costs of hiring the venues down.
The Foundation does not currently charge for sessions to avoid excluding children who might otherwise not be able to afford to take part and while that may change in the future (to cover hall hire costs) this grant will enable the Cricket Foundation to continue to offer free sessions for the foreseeable future to encourage people to try the sport.