Chairman of the Club Cricket Conference, Robbie Book, tells the important story of how the Club Cricket Charity has teamed up with The Community Heartbeat Trust and the ECB to distribute defibrillators around the country, and why this work is so important…
The Club Cricket Charity was established in 2016 to help fund activities for amateur recreational cricket across the country.
One of our first endeavours was to commission a survey by the then All Out Cricket Magazine (now Wisden Cricket Monthly) asking the question “If your club had £10,000, what would you spend it on?”
To our surprise almost every club, from an extremely productive response, mentioned the word “defibrillator”, and our quest began.
Each year, at least 60,000 people die through cardiac arrest, with about 10% of these happening away from the home. On average, around one of these deaths occurs on a recreational sports field every month.
Christian Eriksen’s collapse during Euro 2020 beamed the issue directly to millions of people around the world and made everyone realise that this can happen to anyone, and it isn’t a rare occurrence. This is happening regularly and widespread access to defibrillators is vital.
During the year following our survey, we researched the various suppliers of all the equipment and services which were needed to make the supply of a defibrillator unit possible. The offer needed to be affordable, sustainable, useful, and, most importantly, as part of the club’s safety and welfare policy.
We finally joined up with our present supply and distribution partner, The Community Heartbeat Trust, an independent charity with all the experience we needed. Following much hard work, collaboration and a successful pilot between the charities and the ECB, we’ve been able to arrive at a fantastic place where we can offer cricket clubs a subsidised state-of-the-art portable defibrillator package.
The current offer, open to any cricket club includes a portable defibrillator, insurance, training, connection to the local emergency service and post traumatic stress counselling. There is an ongoing maintenance package that runs alongside this.
The cost to a club is £750 for a package which could normally cost over £2,000 for the defibrillator alone, making it the most outstanding value-for-money proposition available in sport. It is called the CHT Managed Solution (CHTMS).
Our background, as an independent adjunct to The National Cricket Conference, whose role is to be able to interact with the grassroots of the game, gave us the unique ability to act as the interface between ECB and the recreational game.
The ECB undertook extensive due diligence to establish the partnership with both us and The Community Heartbeat Trust, but decided that this combination of delivery partners was best in class for its end-to-end service and support.
A pilot scheme lasted 3 years and we provided 350 defibrillators, including 100 portable units at zero cost to those teams and organisations under the auspices of the National Asian Cricket Council (NACC).
In 2020, we also piloted working directly with Hampshire Cricket Foundation to test a model for distributing free defibrillators to clubs.
This year, 2021, the pilot scheme became a fully-fledged programme and we have received £400,000 from the ECB to progress the project, taking the total since 2018 to £700,000, with the hope of hitting the target of 1,000 defibrillators being distributed.
This effectively means that Club Cricket Charity has the ability to provide, under the terms of our offer, 870 defibrillators to clubs around the country. In line with our previous joint commitments, we are providing 100 of these units at no cost via the NACC.
We are hoping to engage with all the County Cricket Clubs, County Boards and Leagues across the country to ensure a safer cricket community at recreational level. To date we have ten County Boards fully committed, however, with over 6,000 clubs and teams active in the UK, this means a substantial effort in money and resources to fulfil our joint task.
What pleases me most is that there have been success stories. I heard recently about Phil Vasey, who suffered a heart attack on the pitch in 2019. Fortunately, Phil’s teammate Oz Christie had recently listened to the radio and a discussion about how to use defibrillators and acted quickly, using the defibrillator at the ground to help revive his friend and stabilise him until emergency services arrived.
So as I mentioned at the start of this blog, this is our quest. With more awareness, and more defibrillators available, we will see more of these success stories and save more lives of cricketers up and down the country.
More information on the defibrillator programme can be found at www.theclubcricketcharity.org/defib-fund.
Any clubs wishing to apply for a defibrillator package can request an application form by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.