RADIO 1 star and former Bishop’s Stortford High School pupil Greg James will be returning to his sporting roots today (Sunday, August 18) when he helps to officially open the new pavilion at the town's cricket club.
The presenter, 27, will be bringing England and Lancashire right-arm pace bowler James Anderson with him for the ceremony and celebrations.
Greg, pictured, said: "This was where I played all my cricket as a kid. I spent most of my teenage years at Cricketfield Lane and it's a pleasure to come back and bring a proper cricketing great with me.
“Despite the fact I bowled him out first ball in the nets recently for our radio show Not Just Cricket, Jimmy is arguably the best bowler in the world and is also a top bloke.
“Even though he's just retained the Ashes with England, he still realises the importance of grassroots cricket for both boys and girls – as long as they don't take his place in the England team!
“It'll be great to get him down to my old club and show him how Southerners do cricket!”
Bishop’s Stortford Cricket Club received a grant of £99,999 from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), partnered by Sport England, towards the cost of the new pavilion.
The total project cost was around £154,000. The club also received £30,000 support from the Arlberg Group and cash from Viridor Credits Environmental Company through the Landfill Community Fund.
Club committee member David Reynolds said: “We were all delighted when we were awarded the grants because in recent years the club has made good progress and we urgently needed to replace our dilapidated old pavilion.
“It was especially pleasing that ECB and Sport England identified the club as being of strategic importance because of the strength of our junior cricket programme and also because of our efforts to develop women’s and girls’ cricket.
“As a result of this, we will celebrate the official opening with a luncheon followed by a Southern Women’s Cricket League fixture between Bishop’s Stortford and Catford Wanderers. Many guests have been invited, including representatives from ECB, Sport England, the Herts Cricket Board, vice presidents, club members and supporters.”
Mr Reynolds explained: “The new pavilion will be named the Percy Mason Pavilion – like the previous pavilion in 1952. Percy Mason was a very prominent club member who died as a young man in tragic circumstances. His daughter, Mary Anne Bishop, will officiate at the opening ceremony.
“Naturally, we’re extremely grateful for the most generous support given to us by the England and Wales Cricket Board, Sport England, Viridor Credits Environmental Company and the Arlberg Group because we could not afford such a high-quality facility built to ECB specifications from our own resources. It is an investment in cricket at the club for the long-term benefit of the local community.”
ECB’s national funding and facilities manager, Bruce Cruse, said: “Bishop’s Stortford Cricket Club deserves support because of the strength of the junior development programme and their special efforts to develop women’s and girls’ cricket.
“Investing in worthy projects such as this one allows cricket clubs to make their facilities as welcoming and as accessible as possible to members, players and spectators. Having high-quality cricket facilities accessible to the community will be key to sustaining participation in grassroots cricket over the coming years.”
Sport England’s property director, Charles Johnston, said: “This new pavilion will obviously help the development of cricket at Bishop’s Stortford Cricket Club and the new facilities will be welcomed by all the players and visitors to the club.
“We’re confident that the ECB’s strategic approach to investing in high-quality, sustainable facilities will help cricket to attract and retain many new participants and create more opportunities to develop sporting talent and will also benefit the local community.”