THE unsung heroes of Devon cricket will be honoured during a gala luncheon at Lord’s tomorrow (Monday).
The NatWest OSCAs – it stands for Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards – are the game’s way of saying thank-you to the backroom girls and boys whose volunteer work makes clubs tick.
Devon officials sifted through dozens of nominations earlier this year to find county winners in six different categories. The nominees then go forward to the national award-giving ceremony.
The Devon winners were:
Heartbeat of the club: Barry and Monica Widdicombe of South Devon CC. Ex-player Barry has been club chairman for 28 years. Wife Monica was tea lady for 26 of those years.
Lifetime achiever: Barton CC’s Jan Meyer was nominated for her continuous voluntary work as barmaid, tea lady, scorer, secretary and fixture secretary since the early 1970s.
Pro-active leadership: Braunton’s outgoing 1st XI skipper Dan Brierley was selected for his work on and off the field stabilising then regenerating the club after a period of decline.
Young volunteer (18-25): Hatherleigh’s Niall Leahy is a man of many parts. He coaches across the youth section at Hatherleigh, starting with the All Stars intake before adding the under10s and the 13-plus Academy youngsters to his commitment. This season he is captain of the North Devon League XI
Young volunteer (14-16): Imogen Oldfield dived into her role as All Stars activator at Seaton with huge enthusiasm. She organises soft-ball tournaments, arranges extra practice sessions and is currently designing a new kit for the women’s team.
Inspiring and diverse offer: Plymouth C have hosted two festivals for under eights and under nines as a logical progression from the All Stars programme aimed at primary school youngsters. For youngsters in the 9-12 age bracket, there are informal Saturday morning sessions. First team captain Jon Varcoe, who doubles up junior cricket co-ordinator will be representing the club at Lord’s.
Jim Wood, who was Devon Cricket Board chairman for 10 years, will be among the lunch hosts in his new role as chairman of the ECB’s recreational cricket assembly.
Wood, who played for Exmouth, said: “Congratulations to all the winners from Devon who have made it on to the national list of nominees.
“Cricket does not get played without all the work done in the background by volunteers to make it happen.
“Whether they win a national OSCA or not, all Devon’s nominees deserve this public pat on the back for the work they put in.”
Devon has a good track record at the OSCAs. Previous winners from the county include: former youth county coach Jon Mears (2005), umpire David Moseby and Axminster official Phil Spong (both 2007), Exmouth’s late chairman Richard Butler (2009) and Thorverton’s Jock Spry (2015).
Six of Devon’s nominees will be at tomorrow’s awards lunch. Monica Widdicombe is unable to attend and is sending daughter Carina along as her ‘12thman’.
Nominees will be offered a 45-minute tour of the Lord’s ground before joining VIPs from the world of cricket for lunch at 1pm.