Caroline Carter, of Hatherley and Reddings CC in Gloucestershire, has been named the winner of the 2021 Cricket Community Champion Award for her services to youth cricket.
The award, presented by MCC and The Cricketer magazine, shines a spotlight on cricket's true, unsung heroes and the vital work volunteers carry out to keep the recreational game alive.
As part of the award, Caroline has been invited to attend the England v Pakistan Men’s Royal London One-Day International at Lord’s on Saturday and will join the list of all-time greats by ringing the five-minute bell to signal the start of play. She will enjoy the match as a guest of MCC from the famous Writing Room in the Lord’s Pavilion.
Having worked with the youth section at Hatherley and Reddings CC, near Cheltenham, since 2013, Caroline has transformed the provision for young people in the local community, increasing the number of participants at the club by almost 200 and helping to provide inclusive and accessible cricket for all age groups and for all abilities.
She has been instrumental in assisting many of the club’s volunteers to become fully qualified coaches and supporting them so that they have everything they need to ensure that children are having fun whilst developing their cricketing skills.
Her tireless efforts for the club stretch all-year round, including the introduction of a pre-Christmas training programme and an interclub six-a-side indoor tournament.
"To be able to ring the five-minute bell at the start of play at Lord’s will be an incredibly special experience, one which I will never forget"
Caroline Carter said: “Receiving the call to say that I had been awarded the Cricket Community Champion Award was an absolute surprise and a shock. To be able to ring the five-minute bell at the start of play at Lord’s will be an incredibly special experience, one which I will never forget - especially with the knowledge of the legends of cricket who have previously had that honour.
“Being part of grassroots cricket may seem tireless and time-consuming but the results of watching the increased participation and enjoyment are in themselves just reward. At the heartbeat of clubs are an army of volunteers who spend their time improving the game for as many as possible.
“All those who contribute by giving their time selflessly to the club should be celebrated including those who coach, score, undertake groundwork, umpire, run the bar or barbecue - all these people invest their time to turn a cricket club into a community.”
"She is effectively representing the thousands of volunteers that give up their time across the length and breadth of the country"
MCC Chief Executive & Secretary Guy Lavender said: “Cricket at all levels would not be what it is without the many hours that volunteers devote, and we are delighted to have continued our partnership with The Cricketer this year to recognise the sacrifices that volunteers make to ensure that so many people can enjoy our sport.
“It is always a herculean task to be able to pick a winner from the many nominations that are received each year and the shortlist was as strong as ever. The broad range of Caroline’s work, and the difference she has clearly made at the club are factors that stood out in the judging process.
“We want to recognise everyone who volunteers in cricket and whilst it will be Caroline who is ringing the bell on this occasion, she is effectively representing the thousands of volunteers that give up their time across the length and breadth of the country, and we thank every single one of them for their vital contributions to our great game.”
Managing Editor of The Cricketer Huw Turbervill added: “Going through all the entrants for our Community Champion Award was humbling. These people are true heroes. A couple of gentlemen have put in a half-century of service - extraordinary.
"But Caroline’s achievements have been staggering. To increase the youth section nearly ten-fold shows dedication in the extreme. She was a worthy winner. The Cricketer is so proud to run this award with MCC, and long may it continue.”
Also on the shortlist were: Haydn Turner (Capital Kids Cricket), Nadeem Ahmed (Lidlington CC and Graces CC), John Lyons (Allerton Bywater CC), David House (Olicanian CC), Rakesh Ramji (Bradford Indians CC).
The Cricket Community Champion award has been running for four years. The previous winners were Julia Farman (2017), Chris Mainstone (2018) and John Reeve (2019). The award did not run in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.