Five local schools will be bowled over in a pilot programme to encourage youngsters to take up cricket and explore the countryside.
Former Nottinghamshire opening batsman Darren Bicknell is the director of the Belvoir Castle Cricket Trust, which has been supported by Yorkshire Bank.
The five days of rural learning and sport will give pupils from two inner-city schools from Leicester, two city schools from Melton and special needs school Ash Lea from Cotgrave in Nottinghamshire, the chance to learn about the game and the countryside surrounding Belvoir Castle in Knipton.
Darren said: “The Cricket Trust was set up to provide cricket and aspirational opportunities to local youngsters. As planned, we are now holding a pilot project involving the five schools this summer to give children the chance to play cricket and learn more about the nearby countryside since we have such a fantastic location at Belvoir Castle.
“We will give the youngsters the experience of orienteering, gamekeeping and to look round the famous Hunt kennels here on the Estate at Belvoir as well as having a game of cricket.
“I was very lucky because my cricket developed through the district and county sides from a young age and we hope this scheme will give youngsters the chance to develop their cricketing skills and find out more about the countryside. I think it will be a fascinating day.”
Darren also coaches around 60 boys and girls aged from six to 11 in the Belvoir Bees sessions at Belvoir Castle every Friday.
“It is an introduction to the game by way of softball cricket and trying to bridge the gap to hard ball cricket, and it is proving to be extremely popular,” he said.
“We are looking to extend these coaching courses to other courses in the Vale of Belvoir as part of our aim to maintain children’s interest in the sport as they grow older.”
Jo Belton, private partner at Yorkshire Bank’s Financial Solutions Centre in Nottingham, said she was delighted the bank was playing a part in giving youngsters their first taste of cricket.
“With the Ashes coming up this summer, cricket will be dominating the sports headlines and this project is a great opportunity to introduce boys and girls to the game,” she said.
“As well as looking after the Cricket Trust’s accounts, we have invited Darren to our networking events and given him advice on the charity aspect of running the organisation.
“This is all part of Yorkshire Bank’s ethos of creating and maintaining local customer relationships and I am really pleased the Cricket Trust is starting to make a real difference in the community of Belvoir.”