Senior PR and Marketing Executive, Kathryn Ford, reminisces on her two volunteer days spent with the PCA Benevolent Fund.  

Many people perceive the lives of professional sportsmen to be full of glamour and glory. It often can be, but less well recognised is the reality that many dedicate their lives to their careers from a very early age, training to be the best, but by 35 it’s over.

There are few careers that require such physical dedication, and carry such risk – one injury can leave you no longer employable. What happens to all those individuals who, having achieved greatness and perhaps even proudly competed, wearing their country’s emblem, are no longer on your TV screen or radio airwaves?

For my charity days this year I chose to support the PCA (Professional Cricket Association) Benevolent Fund, working at two of its fundraising events. The PCA Benevolent Fund is a support network that helps former and current players and their immediate family members in times of hardship and upheaval. The fund provides vital financial support for medical treatment, including emergency operations and physiotherapy, alongside helping individuals who are having difficulty adjusting to life after cricket. The fund has also created the Mind Matters initiative, a confidential helpline that is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues.

To continue its work, the charity hosts a number of fundraising events each year, including the two I was able to attend – the PCA golf day and the Team England Christmas lunch.

As soon as I arrived at Woburn Golf Club for the golf day I was put to work creating goodie bags for each of the 22 teams – something I am very used to doing ahead of events like Brains Eden and FXP that Conscious Communications runs – registering teams and signing people up to the ‘beat the pro’ competition. Working alongside the team, time flew and before I knew it the morning was over and we needed to get the teams onto the course ready for their shotgun starts. Once they were off, the afternoon was spent helping to set the venue up for the dinner, preparing the auction, and ferrying latecomers to the right tee. As with any event, the day had the odd hiccup here and there, but it was great to be able to use the kind of problem solving skills I use at work in practice to support the fund. There really is nothing like the buzz you get from seeing an event go well, especially as we know how much planning goes on in the background. The day was a huge success and it was great to be involved.

The second event I helped out with was a little different; instead of turning up to the green of a golf course I faced the gates of Lord’s cricket ground. The annual Christmas lunch is one of the biggest fundraising events of the year, when cricketers past and present join a host of representatives from a range of supporting organisations to celebrate the sport, and the charity. Again I was involved in setting up tables, checking table plans and ensuring the venue was ready for the guests’ arrival – but with the addition on this occasion of stuffing Christmas crackers with raffle tickets! The event had a truly festive feel, with all guests embracing the time of giving, including one donation of £50,000, given to the fund for educational scholarships.

I also had the opportunity to hear some of the stories from individuals who have received help from the fund, and was inspired to learn more about how much of a difference to peoples’ lives the fund’s work makes – whether it is re-building a ligament, or a life.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to give both my time and skills to such a great charity and I hope they will have me back next year!

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