CH Sports Ambassadors Support Cricket Festival
On a bright and sunny autumn day, seven CH pupil sports ambassadors spent the day at the picturesque Arundel Castle Cricket Club assisting and coaching in a cricket festival for adults with learning disabilities. Due to the pandemic, this event had not been staged since the summer of 2019, so it was wonderful to see this key event back in the CH calendar. The CH Sports Ambassadors scheme was set up to provide pupils with a pathway into sports coaching and officiating. Part of the course is to provide the pupils with experience of working with people with learning difficulties in a sporting environment.
The event at Arundel took place on the cricket ground that was created by Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk, way back in 1895. The outfield, which has in the past been graced by many world-famous cricketers, was generously given over for the day to allow this most worthwhile cricket tournament to take place. There were over 100 participants at the event organised by Matt Swanson from Aldingbourne Country Centre, one of the six care centres participating in the event. Director of Sport at Christ’s Hospital, David Messenger, said: ‘Some of the participants had severe learning difficulties but it wasn’t long before they felt comfortable with our pupils, who actively encouraged, conversed and engaged with them during this amazing and worthwhile event.’
The day was a tremendous success. Robert (DG/Year 12) said ‘I found the whole experience very enriching because I haven’t previously had the opportunity to work with people with learning disabilities; it was a great experience. It was great to be able to meet many interesting people, and the staff from each centre were very helpful and kind too’ he added. ‘I really felt like our help was appreciated not only by the organisers but also the people we were helping.’
The sunny weather added to the enjoyment of the day, which was played in a friendly competitive spirit. Mr Messenger added ‘The day was about re-engaging the participants with social sport, following a difficult few years for them, first with lockdown and then restricted access to community events.’ The pupils found the day a most worthwhile experience and they are looking forward to assisting again in the summer term. Co-organiser Mandy Burgess complemented the CH pupils: ‘A special note of gratitude to the CH pupils who are dropped into our unusual group of people with little experience of what they are about to be tasked to do. It always amazes me how they all are still smiling at the end of the day!’
The festival could not have taken place without the generous support of James Rufey, the Chief Operating Officer and Secretary at Arundel Castle Cricket Club, and Tim Shutt, the Director of Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation.