Ex-England skipper Gatting comes to aid of Bognor cricketers

Mike Gatting is backing Bognor's involvement in the Natwest Cricketforce scheme
Mike Gatting is backing Bognor's involvement in the Natwest Cricketforce scheme

Bognor Regis Cricket Club are set to revamp their facilities – with a bit of help from a former England captain or two.

The club are taking part in the sport’s biggest annual volunteering initiative, NatWest CricketForce, on April 8, 9 and 10.

In partnership with the ECB, NatWest CricketForce is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Last year saw 85,000 volunteers taking part at 1,642 clubs.

Bognor hope cricket fans, their friends and families will help their local club by helping undertake major renovations to the clubhouse and grounds.

As a national showcase club for NatWest CricketForce, Bognor expect 250 volunteers, including former England skipper Mike Gatting.

There’s even a chance another ex-England captain, Michael Vaughan, may pop along as Bognor are one of only three showcase clubs.

Other sports celebrities have been invited.

Children as well as adults will be helping out and at midday on the Saturday, volunteers will attempt to beat the NatWest CricketForce record for painting a fence – currently 39 minutes.

NatWest ambassador Michael Vaughan said: “NatWest CricketForce is a great way for clubs to get the community to lend a hand sprucing up the place, and this year we hope even more people will be keen to get involved. Whatever your skills, there is a job for everyone.”

Jobs on the agenda at Bognor’s Hawthorn Road base include converting an old changing area, installing accessible toilets, constructing an access path and ramp, building a double garage, installing an electronic scoreboard, laying a non-turf pitch, planting trees and conservation work and painting.

The estimated cost of the volunteer work, if paid for, would be £65,000.

Bognor CC chairman Bernard Burns said: “It will enable much-needed work to take place at clubs across the county.

“All players start their careers at local clubs and it’s crucial we support the game’s development. “The NatWest CricketForce weekend gives clubs a real focus for community sports activities and voluntary help. Amazing things can be achieved.”

Josh Broad, 17, a member of Bognor’s colts, said: “I could never have imagined we would become a Sussex and national showcase club.”

Organisations who have signed up to support the project include the Prince’s Trust (Bognor area) for project management and conservation work, Nyewood Junior School and Bognor district Girl Guides.

Lee Hallman, regional director for NatWest Retail Banking in West Sussex, said: “NatWest CricketForce gives volunteers the chance to put something back.”

If you can help, email your contact details to natwestcricketforce@ecb.co.uk