The winter football season may be in full swing, but there is a small corner of Lincolnshire where the traditional summer sport of cricket is alive and kicking – or should we say batting!
For staff and pupils at Louth’s Greenwich House Independent School, the cricket does not stop when the days get colder and the nights draw in – these determined and enthusiastic sports girls and boys simply go indoors to continue playing the sport they love.
And they have good reason for doing so, as the onset of early spring will see them visit the ‘cricket centre of Europe’ – the La Manga Club, in Spain.
This home of European cricket offers the best facilities in Spain, and the opportunity for the Greenwich House youngsters to enjoy coaching and matches in the sun.
The pupils will also be joined by other youngsters who are members of the town’s First Cricket Club, which trains throughout winter at the Meridian Leisure Centre.
A popular club, it is led by none other than former England Women’s cricket star Arran Brindle. Arran is now a member of the teaching team at Greenwich House – the independent school that punches above its weight as one of the smallest but most successful schools of its kind in Lincolnshire.
Arran joins 11 staff at the school in making sure sport is used to encourage team-play, patience and resilience.
Her desire to see youngsters learn the values of life through cricket saw Arran extend her involvement in youth cricket out of the school, establishing the group called First Cricket.
While many of her school pupils join her for the weekend sessions, it is now attracting young people from across the county.
Arran said: “It is more than just a sport for the young people. You find that giving people the opportunity to have a go and seeing them develop a passion for sport offers them life-skills.
“It is about being part of a team, even if you are not the best, you are given an opportunity to play, that is what First Cricket is all about.”
Arran debuted for the England team in 1999, before going on to help the team to Ashes’ victory in 2005 - the first time the women’s team had won the Ashes in 42 years.
She was back again to compete in the 2013 World Cup and played in the 2014 Ashes series just ahead of her retirement.
Her teaching career then resumed at Greenwich, where her son Harry is a pupil. A true family school, the owner and head teacher, Jennifer Brindle, is Arran’s mother-in-law.
Arran continued: “Sport is something I will carry with me for life alongside my teaching, for me the two go hand-in-hand – and you never know we may have an international player in our midst.
“We have around nine of the First Cricket members who play at district and county level.”
For the parents, the opportunity to see their children develop through First Cricket is something that is extremely valuable – alongside classroom studies.
Rebecca Strawson’s youngest son Arthur, 11, has joined Arran’s First Cricket sessions, alongside his fellow Greenwich House pupils.
“I cannot speak highly enough of what Arran is doing both at the school and with First Cricket.
“She spends all her time with the children during the week, and then inspires them through cricket at the weekends.
“Sport is a big part of my boys’ lives thanks to the school and Arran.”
• For more details about First Cricket, contact Arran on 01507 609252.