Beyond the boundary: Cricket club puts community first

Westquarter and Redding Cricket Club are expanding and have launched a Community Interest Company (CIC), Bailliefields Community Hub. With plans to build a new clubhouse on the spare ground and more community integration. Pictured club director, Stephen Sutton.
Westquarter and Redding Cricket Club are expanding and have launched a Community Interest Company (CIC), Bailliefields Community Hub. With plans to build a new clubhouse on the spare ground and more community integration. Pictured club director, Stephen Sutton.

A local cricket club is continuing to push the boundaries in its bid to become a club for everyone.

Through various initiatives and projects the club has set up over the past few years, Westquarter & Redding Cricket have shown the sport can be for all – and the hard work behind the scenes has not gone unnoticed.

Their latest recognition comes from the Scottish Sports Awards, where they have been shortlisted as ‘Local Club of the Year’ for their impressive community work and approach to inclusiveness as a Community Interest Company.

One of the club’s directors Stephen Sutton, who has been involved with the club for 36 years, told the Falkirk Herald: “It’s great to be nominated. It allows us to grow our presence in the community. If we get more recognition, then more people will know what we are doing and can help us make a difference.”

The journey at the club began around four years ago where it made a conscious effort to put the community at the heart of what it does.

Over the years, it has grown its juniors section, removed barriers to participation for disabled children and adults, and, recently, has started supporting those living with dementia.

Sutton said: “I think the club has had a massive impact on the community. We see it more than a cricket club. Some clubs find it difficult to engage with the community, but that’s what we’ve been doing for the last three and a half years.

“People can see the benefits not just in terms of sport but facilities and we still want to do a lot more.”

Sustaining the long-term future of the club was its first objective, so the club financed and project managed a children’s nursery, which has enabled 70 families to return to work and employs 20 people from the area.

Glenbervie Kindergarden leases the building and the rent makes the club financially secure. In 2015, WRCC received the “Biggest Change Makers in Scottish Cricket” award from Cricket Scotland on the back of this work.

Then they looked at growing the junior section, ensuring everyone has a chance to take part.

Initially, they had 18 members – now up to 120 covering age groups from five to 14. They wanted to engage the whole family and provide a fun, safe environment to play cricket. In 2016, they won Cricket Scotland’s most welcoming club.

The club continues to remove barriers to participation, whether they be financial, social or disability. They have run several table cricket events, in conjunction with Graham Harvey, of Forth Valley Disability Sports and Cricket Scotland, and provided four weeks of cricket coaching to the Enhanced Provision class at Easter Carmuirs School, which will now be rolled out across Scotland as part of Cricket Scotland’s disability plan.

Sutton said: “The enhanced provision classes and dementia group show we are more than just focused on cricket. These initiatives are giving children from deprived areas, or disabled children and adults, the chance to be part something more mainstream. It’s allowing them to build confidence and improve their hand-eye co-ordination.”

Recently, they have set up a Try Something New group for people living with dementia. This year, the club has run free sessions covering various sports and hobbies, including cricket, archery, ballroom dancing and photography. The club were finalists in the Best Dementia Friendly Community Initiative.

“The feedback we’ve had has been really positive from carers. It has removed social isolation by allowing people to come together and helped them to connect with loved ones by bringing back memories.

Sutton said: “We still want to do more. We have five directors who all share the same vision. We want to build a community sports hub in the area and continue to strengthen our links with the community.”