Walking Cricket founder up for prestigious award
We are delighted to announce Mac McKechnie, the founder of Walking Cricket in Yorkshire has been named as a finalist for an award celebrating people who are going above and beyond to make a difference where they live.
Mac, 72, has been shortlisted for the BBC Radio Leeds – Make a Difference Awards in the Volunteer Category by a panel of expert judges.
The Volunteer Category recognises individuals who make a real difference to the community by giving up their time voluntarily to help out a charity or cause.
Mac, 72, who was selected from hundreds of entries, was shortlisted for being at the heart of increasing the impact of Walking Cricket across the county.
To be able to make a positive difference to people’s lives – well you couldn’t ask for anything better! – Mac McKechnie, the founder of the first Walking Cricket side in Yorkshire
Mac, who has helped changed the lives of hundreds of older people in Yorkshire, said: “It’s brilliant! It’s a great privilege to be nominated for this award – and it’s more about the Walking Cricket than me personally.
“Hopefully this can help spread the word about Walking Cricket and even more people can be helped through the activity.”
Mac originally set up the first Walking Cricket group – Barnsley u3a – in 2018, having suffered from sepsis and needing to get into better shape for his health.
The activity takes the traditional game’s rules and adds one more “no running” to make it accessible, no matter what the person’s ability. And Walking Cricket is also sociable, affordable and fun with many people having benefitted both mentally and physically because of the activity.
Mac said: “Walking Cricket I see as a wonderful opportunity for people who otherwise wouldn’t think of doing a sport.
“When I originally designed the activity – it needed to be inclusive for everyone at all levels – and particularly it’s about being affordable and accessible.”
Four years on, and working alongside Yorkshire Cricket Foundation and u3a, there are now more than 250 members, including men and women, people with long-term health conditions, and those from all walks of life.
Weekly social sessions currently take place across 12 hubs in the region designed for absolute beginners right through to ex-cricketers and there is also a newly launched Walking Cricket League and a Yorkshire representative team – with the hope to play country matches in the future and green field Walking Cricket (played on a field).
Mac, an Armed Forces Veteran, who gives more than 20 hours a week in a volunteer capacity, added: “Walking Cricket is reaching people who are lonely, and maybe in isolation or depressed or living with health conditions – and they come to Walking Cricket every week and it lifts them up.
“When I hear about the positive stories about how Walking Cricket is helping people it makes me so happy. To be able to make a positive difference to people’s lives – well you couldn’t ask for anything better!”
Pictured Mac (centre) alongside Rotherham u3a and Doncaster u3a Walking Cricket League teams.
The BBC Radio Leeds – Make a Difference Awards are part of the national Local BBC Radio awards which were launched earlier this year by every local BBC radio station to recognise remarkable people; marking their achievements and contributions to lives in their communities.
Make a Difference was first set up at the beginning of the first pandemic lockdown in 2020 and was considered a virtual notice board for those offering help and those needing support. To date, more than eight million people have interacted with it across all 39 local BBC radio stations.
Categories cover the unsung heroes of every community and alongside the Volunteer Award there is also the Community Group Award, Fundraiser Award, Carer Award, Great Neighbour Award, Key Worker Award, Environment Award and the Together Award.
Tracy Gee, Executive Producer at BBC Radio Leeds, said: “This year BBC Radio Leeds wants to celebrate and say thank you to people living in our villages, towns and cities who make where we live a better place.
“Every day we hear stories of people doing incredible things for each other and their communities. Now it’s time to recognise them for all their hard work. This is why we’re hosting these awards.”
Chris Burns, Head of Audio and Digital for BBC England added: “The last two years have been challenging for everyone. Listeners have contacted us to share the stories of how people have helped each other and we wanted to find a way of celebrating those unsung heroes and telling those amazing stories.”
Winners of the BBC Radio Leeds – Make a Difference Awards will be announced on Saturday, 17 September at a ceremony held at The Royal Armouries in Leeds.