A tiny village cricket club in the Lake District has gone to extreme lengths to get its flood-damaged pitch fixed.
Rather than take their bat home and hang up their whites, the hardy lads and lasses from Threlkeld in Cumbria went in search of an alternative place to play. They went up mountains, they went underwater and now they want you to buy a calendar of their journey to help them fix their home ground.
It all started a year ago when the most almighty storm washed hundreds of tonnes of stone down from next-door mountain Blencathra and onto their beautiful cricket pitch.
Players who should have been celebrating at their annual fundraising dance were instead staring at destruction.
It was on Friday June 22 2012 when Threlkeld Cricket Club cancelled its biggest fundraising event - the annual summer dance - with just 24 hours to go because heavy rain was forecast for the weekend.
On the morning of Saturday June 23, the team stood in awe of the devastation caused by the storm. Pinch hitter and Threlkeld’s oldest first team player, David Jackson, 49, described how the idea for a calendar came about: “Before the flood we had one of the best playing surfaces in Cumbria. It was heartbreaking to see the pitch - it was wrecked - and we didn’t know how we’d come up with the money to fix it because we’re such a small club.
"After the initial utter despair, someone suggested making a calendar of us playing cricket in extreme locations. Thankfully the very talented local photographer Stuart Holmes likes both cricket and adventure and he agreed to help.”
Stuart Holmes has travelled the world taking photographs in many amazing locations, admitted his knowledge of cricket was very limited at the start of the project, he said: “After a meeting with some of the players, a quick discussion on the cricket calendar concept and a reassurance about the non-nude nature, I knew this promised to be a lot of fun. Getting a decent photo depends on light and conditions.
"It is a compliment to the team that they always could pull a team together, sometimes at very short notice. We have had to go to extreme lengths to capture the images, including flying in a gyrocopter, but I am delighted with the result.”
Club Treasurer, mediocre batsman and reasonable bowler, Michael Webster was also the ringleader in making the calendar happen. He kept spirits up and the pressure on his teammates to keep going to silly locations for photos, he said: “Each photo had its own little logistical nightmare, not least being held hostage to the wet Cumbrian weather!
"We were up at the crack of dawn to get the shot in the town centre; soaked to the skin and weighed down underwater in the River Derwent; and holding our breath as we swung above Honister on a rope bridge. It has shown that we all have a great sense of humour in the face of adversity - now we just need to shift these calendars to make it all worthwhile.”
The result of their efforts is a magnificent A3 calendar featuring 12 stunning photographs which can be bought via the special website www.rainstoppedplay.org
The photos were taken:
- on a frozen wicket at Sprinkling Tarn below Great End
- from a gyrocopter as they played on a disused railway at Mosedale Viaduct
- on Shepherd’s Crag, Borrowdale
- on a mountain, Blencathra
- on Rampsholme Island in the middle of Derwentwater
- at the ancient and mysterious Castlerigg Stone Circle
- on the Lodore Jetty, Derwentwater
- on a steam engine Sir Tom at Threlkeld Quarry
- in Market Square, Keswick
- on the via ferrata (iron way) at Honister Slate Mine
- on stage at the Theatre by the Lake
- underwater in the River Derwent
As their website says: “Playing for Threlkeld Cricket Club is a labour of love and we face an uphill struggle nearly every weekend of the season.
“So, rather than sobbing at the loss of our long shadows on a manicured green wicket, the team packed up their whites and went on a search for the most inspiring and extreme wickets the glorious Lake District has to offer. We looked very high and very low in order to find somewhere to play our unique brand of cricket.”
Chairman of Threlkeld CC, Richard Allen, said: “Even if you don’t like cricket, it is a brilliant calendar and shows off the best of this part of the northern English Lake District. We’re really proud of the finished product and we hope people will think ten quid for an A3 calendar is pretty good value. We can’t thank Stuart Holmes enough for following our antics and taking such great photos.”
Special thanks go to Steve Scott (Lavahouse.co.uk) who designed the calendar and Absolute Digital Print in Kendal who printed it.
The calendar costs £9.99 (+£2.00 P&P) and is available online from a special website generously hosted by KCS Solutions www.rainstoppedplay.org.