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Edwards recognised at Chance to Shine awards

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England women captain Charlotte Edwards was among the winners at the Brit Insurance Chance to Shine Annual Achievement Awards yesterday evening.

Edwards, who had recently returned home after leading England to the World Twenty20 final in Sri Lanka, received the Ambassador of the Year award for her tireless work promoting Chance to Shine and girls cricket.

Besides Edwards, the event at Lord’s, which recognised the efforts of the club managers, coaches and teachers involved on the ground in one of the country's biggest school sports development initiatives, was also attended by England wicketkeeper-batsmen past and present in Alec Stewart and Matt Prior.

Ridge View School in Kent scooped the coveted School of the Year Award. The judges praised how the special educational needs school had really embraced the philosophy of the Chance to Shine programme and has witnessed fantastic physical and personal development of the pupils who have taken part.

Cathryn Falconer, a teacher at Ridge View School, said: “It’s fantastic. Given the level of disability of our students, it’s great that they have been able to win this award.”

Charlotte Edwards & Clare Connor

England captain Charlotte Edwards, left, gets the Ambassador of the Year award from ECB head of England women's cricket Clare Connor

The Project of the Year Award was won by the Cotswold East project for generating greater activity and increasing awareness of the Chance to Shine scheme and the benefits that it brings. The judges commended the success that this project has had in convincing girls that cricket is a game that they can play and enjoy.

David Taylor collected the award for the project and said: “We and all the other coaches here tonight are here to bring children into the game and I am very grateful and appreciative that people are recognising the work that we do.”

Kevin Pichowski from Wolverton Town CC received the Slazenger Coach of the Year Award. The judges were impressed with Kevin’s innovative thinking, coaching and engagement that has made a difference to the lives of many young sports participants, while developing confidence and changing their perceptions of cricket.

Pichowski said: “I am very committed to working with kids with special needs as my son has special needs so I feel it is something I want to invest in. I find the whole thing very rewarding. You go into the schools and the staff are so supportive and the kids are absolutely wonderful. I find it a fantastic experience and it is something I will do for as long as I can.”

The final award of the night was the Brit Insurance Special Recognition Award, which was won by Paul Gash from Oak Tree School for using cricket to turn the school around as well as encouraging school attendance and behaviour.

Gash said: “I wish our girls were here to share it with me; they are national champions now so the award is down to them as well. Since the start of the Chance to Shine programme our school has changed. The behaviour, attendance and everything has improved and come into place and this award is recognition for all of that. It’s phenomenal.”

Wasim Khan, Chief Executive of the Cricket Foundation, said: “The Brit Insurance Annual Achievement Awards is a fantastic opportunity for us to highlight and say thank you to all the people in clubs and schools around the country who make the Chance to Shine campaign possible.”

Other winners were:

Volunteer of the Year: Ed Duguid
Chance to Shine Young Leader of the Year: Jay Chauhan
MCC Spirit of Cricket Award: Rebecca Ayton
Innovation Award: Chris Edwards