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Passionate disability cricket pioneer gets his reward

18 October 2017

HAD supporter Richard Hill was bowled over when he received a prestigious cricket award recently.

Welwyn Garden City-based Richard, who was instrumental in organising HAD's inaugural wheelchair and learning disability cricket day at Harpenden CC last year, was recognised for 20 years' voluntary work promoting disability cricket in Hertfordshire. 

Richard received the Outstanding Contribution to Disability Cricket Award at the 15th annual NatWest OSCAs (Outstanding Services to Cricket) ceremony at Lord's recently. 

The 58-year-old is the ECB's (England and Wales Cricket Board's) national disability operations manager, and also does a huge amount of voluntary work in Hertfordshire. Richard, a director of Herts Cricket Ltd, in many ways mirrors NatWest's motto of 'cricket with no boundaries'. 

He regularly works in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, as well as further afield. In July he was promoting a tri-series learning disability tournament between England, Australia and South Africa in Cheshire and in September was running national finals in Kidderminster and Arundel. 

He has overseen the growth of disability cricket nationwide and is constantly introducing cricket to new players and audiences. The ECB's disability programme is accepted as a world leader and this is largely due to Richard's skill, energy and tenacity.

Richard received his award from former England skipper Mike Gatting and admits it was a surprise: “I didn't know anything about it until I read a profile of myself in the awards programme just before the dinner,” he explained. “It's great to be recognised in this way. In previous years I have been on the nominations panel, so this is a nice change.

“Disability cricket is making more headlines all the time, which is good,” Richard explained. “Players with learning disabilities often have an extra challenge, as spectators can't immediately see that they have a disability.”

Richard's passion for the game is matched by his innovative ideas. He has trialled walking and wheelchair cricket and his latest venture involves introducing clock cricket into care homes.

Clock cricket is primarily an activity for people aged 50 plus who have limited mobility. It is played indoors with a sponge ball and bats and players sit in chairs (either wheelchairs or other static chairs) in a circle.

Richard also wants to take the game to schools and thinks it will provide a number of benefits for players young and old: “It can introduce cricket to young primary school children and provide physical activity into older people's lives. It also has mental health benefits that could help with age-related conditions like dementia. Players receive eight balls and calculate not only their own score but the team total as well.” 

Scoring is a part of the game Richard is an expert on - he is well known at local cricket grounds in his role as scorer with Welwyn CC!

PRIZE GUY: Richard (left) receives his award from Mike Gatting