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NatWest CricketForce set for lift-off at Shepperton CC

NatWest CricketForce 2007 - the largest volunteer programme in British sport - will be launched at Shepperton Cricket Club in Surrey on Friday, March 30, with record participation levels expected.

Clubs throughout England and Wales will be undertaking NatWest CricketForce initiatives in conjunction with their local clubs during the weekend of March 30-April 1.

Last year 1,062 clubs took part in NatWest CricketForce and more than 70,000 volunteers, including some of cricket’s biggest names such as England stars Monty Panesar and Alastair Cook, carried out renovation work at clubs valued at more than £30m.

England batsman Cook will once again lend his support and will be joined by England international Stuart Broad, ex-England captain Alec Stewart, England women’s captain Charlotte Edwards and and team-mate Caroline Atkins.

They, along with ECB chief executive David Collier and local MP David Wilshire, will be at Shepperton to launch this year’s NatWest CricketForce.

Another record number of clubs - 1,128 - have already registered for NatWest CricketForce 2007 and it is hoped more than 80,000 volunteers will turn out during the weekend to prepare their clubs for the 2007 season.

Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook will lend a helping hand at Shepperton CC

Broad, fresh from a successful England A campaign in Bangladesh, said: “NatWest CricketForce is a terrific opportunity for not only the players, but everyone involved in cricket, to get down to their local club and help out for a few hours.

“This initiative is aimed at helping the vast array of people involved in their clubs at a local level.

“Improved facilities can only help cricket to grow at a grassroots level which is vital for our game and exciting for the future crop of England cricketers coming through the community.”

Collier added: “NatWest CricketForce inspires the community to get involved in cricket on a volunteer basis.

“It thrusts local cricket to the forefront of the local community and the fact that more clubs are involved this year than any other, simply underlines the connection this initiative has with clubs throughout England and Wales.”

Elsewhere, England A captain Mike Yardy will be joined by Sussex’s Chris Adams, Matt Prior and coach Mark Robinson as well as England women’s internationals Rosalie Birch and Holly Colvin at Bells Yew Green CC on Saturday, March 31.

Saturday will also see Geraint Jones of Kent and England Women’s internationals Sarah Taylor and Beth Morgan supporting Macknade CC in Kent, while Katherine Brunt will lend her support to Cheadle Hulme CC in Cheshire.

Katherine Brunt

Katherine Brunt has joined forces with Cheadle Hulme CC

England spinner Ashley Giles will team up with Leicestershire’s Broad, Jeremy Snape and coach Tim Boon and England women’s internationals Nicky Shaw, Jenny Gunn and Jane Smit to support Sileby Town CC on Sunday April 1.

Ian Blackwell will be joined by Somerset colleagues and England’s Stephanie Davies at Hampset CC in Bath on the same day.

Dave Leighton, ECB club programmes manager, said: “This year we will easily outstrip the number of volunteers that the organisers of the 2012 Olympics in London are hoping to attract to work on the Games.

“This is the biggest self help weekend in sport and, for the third year in succession, we will set records in terms of the number of volunteers, the number of participating clubs and the value of the work carried out.”

Helen Page, marketing director of NatWest Retail Markets, said: “The impact NatWest CricketForce has in local communities exceeds expectations every year.

“The massive effort clubs, players, volunteers, and our own bank staff put into this single weekend can benefit facilities nationwide for years to come.”