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Yorkshire

Cricket Foundation

Norah

Walking Cricket is not just about the physical benefits or winning the game, its about the team spirit, developing new relationships and maintaining good mental health.

Walking Cricket makes the traditional game of cricket accessible to older adults.

It was developed as a new concept in 2019 and is a project that makes cricket accessible to those who identify as older adults, are semi – retired or retired, by tailoring the traditional game of cricket to suit those with less mobility and by catering for different abilities. The project was formed by a partnership with the University of the third age (U3A) and the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF).

This is Norah’s story of how taking part in Walking Cricket has helped her…

I am a Yorkshire lass and proud of it – Barnsley born and bred. Coming from a large family, in my early years at school I was always a great sports lover, and particularly enjoyed Netball, Rounders, and Hockey.

I left school at 15 and went to work for Yorkshire Traction in Barnsley. At 23 I married Terry and went on to have three children. I had a lovely marriage which I enjoyed for 30 years before I lost Terry when he was only 52. At 53 it was not a nice age to be left widowed, but myself and the kids rallied round and stayed strong for each other, for which I am truly proud.

Travelling through life, widowed so young is hard, very hard. You can go down with it, or fight it and survive. And here I am today, at nearly 82 years old, and I have survived!

It has not always been smooth – at 40 I nearly lost out with blocked intestines and Peritonitis. While in 2010 coming home from a Barnsley football match I fell down and broke my pelvic bone and couldn’t walk for six months – that was hard work to come back from.

However I discovered the organisation Barnsley u3a at a time when I was really down – Winter months blow your head in – dark at 4.00pm etc. Trying to keep warm – nobody to snuggle up to! It is a lonely existence; you hide a lot when you live on your own because you don’t want to let your friends see you down but sometimes you just can’t hide it.

Being sporty I looked for this type of thing that would suit me – and discovered an old friend who was in charge of Crown Green Bowling – so once Spring came, I got in touch, and am now a well-established member of the u3a group at Ardsley.

Then later, I discovered Walking Football, but unfortunately the men were too serious on that one, so the women gradually stopped going. I then discovered they were doing Walking Cricket, five minutes from where I lived so I thought ‘Let’s have a dabble.’ The only cricket I had ever played was against my brothers out on the street!

Even though I couldn’t bowl straight and missed a lot of balls when batting I loved it! I came out of the first session feeling like a different person, laughing at my mistakes, but feeling very light hearted.

Well, ‘did I enjoy it?’ You bet! I was smitten straight away. Even though I couldn’t bowl straight and missed a lot of balls when batting I loved it! I came out of the first session feeling like a different person, laughing at my mistakes, but feeling very light hearted.

Everyone seemed to have a spring in their step when they were walking out. We then moved because of better weather to an outdoor venue at Dodworth and I can honestly say I’ve loved every minute since.

The people are a real mixture, ex-cricketers etc, but also people like me who knew nothing about cricket! But we are all there for the same thing- to get us out of the ‘doldrums’, and boredom. In other words – you reach a certain age and think you are not fit for purpose!

Well let me tell you:

“You are worth it! Don’t ever put yourself down.”

There are people there who can hardly bend, but by heck, can they bowl and bat! They can’t run, but then again it is Walking Cricket!

I’d nearly gamble that everyone there is living with medical conditions, with many possibly on some kind of medication. But, once they get out there on that pitch, they forget their troubles, and aches and pains. They have friendly chatter, they laugh at their downfalls, and jump for joy at their successes!

I know that our Walking Cricket leader Mac, and Kendal from the YCF are looking at trying to evidence that Walking Cricket is good for health and mental wellbeing and improving general fitness – they are spot on for that! At every session people are laughing and smiling, socialising and using their muscles – it’s so good for you!

During the pandemic lockdown it was difficult because I couldn’t go to Walking Cricket for a while. My kids worried about me during the lockdown. Though I had done my best to stay motivated I was down and sad at not being able to mix with friends and do what I enjoy. My daughter said: ‘mum needs her Walking Cricket!’

Well let me tell you I was so happy when we were able to return to the game I love! To see people’s faces when we started up again after the Covid lockdown was a real tonic. At the first session there was a sea of smiling faces and a full house with everyone raring to go. Anyone thinking about it – Just come and have a go, you’ll love it!

Guess what? I’m not in my 80s when I’m playing, I’m 40 again! In fact for my next birthday, I think I’d like my own cricket bat. Not furs or diamonds, and not pearls – no, just my own cricket bat. At 82 that would be good!

Norah

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