Melton cricketers have thanked the Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust for helping put the spark back into their club.
Six seasons ago Melton Mowbray only had two struggling senior sides and there was no junior cricket.
Now the club, based at the All England Sports Ground in Saxby Road, fields competitive senior teams and has 60 youngsters, including two county juniors, and an additional three on the LYC pathway scheme, on its books.
This season there are five junior teams and plans to set up a ladies/girls’ team, all supported by a strong coaching set-up and newly forged links with local schools.
Rupert Smallshaw, clubhouse manager and a member of the coaching team, said: “It all started when we responded to an article in the Melton Times about the Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust which was seeking a local cricket club to work with.
“At the time we’d not had juniors for nearly 20 years and without the support and encouragement we received from the Trust, our coaches Pete Hood and Karl Tew, members Kathy Tew and Pip Gibbs and others, I doubt if the club itself would be here now.
“It was the spark. At the first Belvoir Bees training session there were more coaches than children, but that soon changed and we haven’t looked back.
“Five of the original Bees are now playing senior cricket and helping to coach the next generation of players and that says it all.
“With a strong junior section and youngsters now progressing to play at county level who knows if we may discover the next Stuart Broad or Charlotte Edwards!
“Our collaboration with the Trust also helped us achieve Clubmark status more quickly than if we’d been on our own.”
With mission accomplished at Melton and the club strong enough to sustain a healthy junior section, they are now running their own ‘Melton Minis’ kwik cricket sessions on Friday evenings from 6pm to 7.30pm.
The Belvoir Bees offers kwik cricket coaching to boys and girls aged six to 11. The Trust plans and leads each 90-minute session, talks with local primary schools to drum up support and does all the administration so coaches from the local club can simply do what they do best and help bring young players on.
Darren Bicknell, ex-professional cricketer and director of the Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust, said: “I’m so pleased we have been able to make a difference.
“It’s been wonderful to see Melton Mowbray grow and just look at them now. Melton is an enthusiastic and ambitious club with super people.”
The Trust is now running a new Bees venue at Asfordby Parish Hall on Tuesday evenings from 6pm to 7.30pm.
The first session a child attends is free as a taster and there is no need to book, just turn up on the night and register.
* For more information about this venue or others at Great Dalby, Hose or Knipton, and to download the Bees’ flyer, visit http://bit.ly/22nSEDU