A record number of cricket clubs across Derbyshire braved the weekend weather to participate in the annual NatWest CricketForce (NWCF) weekend.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) initiative, which is now in its 13th year, brings local cricket communities together and help clubs rejuvenate their facilities for the season ahead.
For more than a decade, NatWest has partnered with the ECB to support local cricket clubs. Derbyshire clubs responded in record numbers in 2014 with over 90 clubs of all sizes involved and an estimated 2,500 volunteers pitching in to help over the recent NWCF weekend.
With funding for facility development hard to come by it is maybe not surprising that the number of clubs involved has increased year on year. No doubt the opportunity to access an ECB micro-grant has helped and 69 Derbyshire clubs have taken advantage of this bringing in £25,000 of funding support.
Denby Cricket Club received help from Cricket Derbyshire academy director AJ Harris and academy members who helped with a tree planting project.
Thanks to the visit from AJ and the lads, along with support from Million Trees Derbyshire, 149 trees were planted on the day, including 11 symbolic willow trees.
In addition, the club had recently received an award from Sport England through the Inspired Facilities Fund enabling a kitchen extension and clubhouse refurbishment.
It was a similar story all over the county with clubs carrying out a huge range of projects along with the usual pre-season ground preparations.
Derbyshire Cricket Board club cricket development manager Mick Glenn said: “”It’s a great initiative and it’s fantastic to see so many clubs and volunteers taking part. The number of people young and old turning out to help is truly inspiring. Clubs and their volunteers are at the very heart of our game and our continued success is down to their generosity and hard work, long may it continue.””
From humble beginnings, the NWCF initiative has grown in a huge way and become an important date in the club cricket calendar. Clubs have been cleaned up, tidied up, repaired and revitalised so attention can now be turned to the start of the season knowing that they are in good shape - now over to the weather.