John Reeve, chairman of Acton CC, has been named winner of the 2019 Community Champion Award for his services to the club as well as Feltham Young Offenders' Institute
The award, presented by MCC and The Cricketer magazine, shines a spotlight on the vital work volunteers carry out to keep the recreational game alive: cricket's true, unsung heroes.
Reeve, 50, will attend the second day of the England v Ireland Specsavers Test match at Lord's where he will join the list of all-time greats by ringing the five-minute bell to signal the start of play. He will also spend the day in the MCC President's Box, as well as have a guided tour of the JP Morgan Media Centre.
This year’s two runners-up, Saba Nasim and Dave Snipe, will also be invited to attend the Test match, Ireland's first in England.
Reeve has been working at Feltham Young Offenders' Institute, and the results have been impressive, with youngsters embracing cricket and its redemptive powers. He sits on the Middlesex County Cricket League committee, and set up the West London Cricket Academy for young players.
He has also recently become a cricket ambassador for the True Unity Faiths Foundation, which aims to empower young people through participation in sport.
"Cricket at all levels would not be what it is without the many hours that volunteers devote"
"I'm delighted to win this award," Reeve said. "It came totally out of the blue, I didn't know I'd been nominated. For me it's all about giving something back to cricket. We have just completed our 10-week pilot programme at Feltham and have five other prisons keen to introduce it. It teaches the youngsters indispensable life skills – how to react when things go against you. Using the letters in cricket, we introduce them to the magnificent seven: character, resilience, integrity, courage, knowledge, education, trust – but they can use their own words. At Feltham they preferred etiquette to education.
"We are also aiming to take the programme into state schools, to try to tackle the problem of youngsters dropping out at 15. Hopefully we can get the ECB on board with that."
Sitting on the voting panel were MCC chief executive and Secretary Guy Lavender, president Anthony Wreford, The Cricketer's chief executive Guy Evans-Tipping and managing editor Huw Turbervill.
"Everyone on the shortlist is involved in different areas of the game, whether it be increasing participation, coaching children or helping disabled and disadvantaged players to enjoy cricket, and it was heartening to see the different dimensions that were represented," said Wreford.
"We want to encourage everyone who volunteers in cricket and while the winners and runners-up have been recognised for their achievements, all 10 contestants on the shortlist are winners and should all be very proud of their accomplishments.
"Cricket at all levels would not be what it is without the many hours that volunteers devote, and the challenge the game has is to inspire others to take up roles that help others enjoy this wonderful sport."
"John is a true cricket missionary who has devoted his life to the game and encouraging people to play it."
Reeve was nominated by cricket writer Dan Waddell, who said: "John is a true cricket missionary who has devoted his life to the game and encouraging people to play it."
Nasim, in second place, is a role model for British-Asian girls in cricket. She goes into schools to coach, and has achieved great things at Wanstead CC, doubling their female section from 15 to 30 in a short time. She even organised for England captain Heather Knight to coach there.
Snipe has been involved with Earlswood CC for 40 years. He is club president, All Stars coordinator, coach, barman, first-aider, tea maker and repairman.
Also on the shortlist were Lorraine Warren (Staplegrove CC), Malcolm Webb (Brentwood), Daniel Bingham (Wembdon), Ian Jeffries (Leicester Electricity Sports), Paul Hacker (Eastbourne), Nick Jelfs (Brewood) and Dave Freeman (Great & Little Tew).
The Community Champion award has been running for three years. The two previous winners were Julia Farman (2017) and Chris Mainstone (2018).