Cheshire schoolteacher is Volunteer of the Year

INSPIRATIONAL teacher Kieran Smith paid tribute to the Cheshire Cricket Board coaches after being named Volunteer of the Year at the Chance to Shine School Awards.

The former Prenton High School teacher, now at Neston High School, also paid tribute to one of his 'star pupils' as he collected the award at a star-study ceremony in London.

Kieran (pictured far left), who coaches the Oxton Ladies team, said he was "shocked" to receive the national award which recognises the achievements of volunteers working in grass-roots cricket.

"I had a fantastic day at the Chance to Shine awards ceremony, and I honestly had no idea I was going to win," Kieran told Wheatsheaf World.
"I listened to the first two awards and both of the winners had videos to introduce them, so I turned to my dad and said: 'I guess I haven't won then'.
"But then Mark Nicholas began to read out the description for the Volunteer of the Year category, and I thought wait a minute, that sounds a little like me. "When he read out the line about the winner recently taking up a new teaching post, I knew it was me - I couldn't believe it!"
Kieran added: "I want to say a massive thank you to Cheshire Cricket Board for nominating me and making it a special day."

Channel Five presenter and broadcaster Nicholas - the Chance to Shine Vice President - hosted the Awards, held at the Nomura Bank in London.

Special guests included England and Kent rising star Sam Billings (pictured) alongside England women coaching ambassadors Tammy Beaumont and Kate Cross.

After collecting his award, Kieran was keen to highlight the impact Chance to Shine had made at his former school, and on one pupil in particular. He said: "I first became aware of the Chance to Shine programme about four years ago when Owen Williamson was in post as Wirral Development Officer.

"He called me to ask if the girls would like to get involved in some cricket coaching, which wasn't going to cost the school a penny. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and Prenton have been involved in the scheme ever since.
"The Cheshire coaches are excellent, and the girls have really enjoyed being part of it. We have featured in the Lady Taverners competitions and had lots of success, winning matches at county finals and even going on to represent Cheshire at regional finals.
"All the girls have grown in confidence as a result, but for one girl in particular - Meg Grisdale - the Chance to Shine programme has made a real impact.
"Meg always had confidence issues, but through cricket she discovered she had a real talent and the transformation has been unbelievable.
"Looking at her now, she is a fantastic leader and a great captain, and that's the power of a team sport like cricket, and a programme like Chance to Shine. I'm very proud of her."

Meg is one of several girls who have migrated from the school sessions at Prenton to nearby Oxton Cricket Club.

Under the stewardship of Kieran and coach Kevin Southern, the girls finished third in the Cheshire League last summer, highlighting the scope of the Chance to Shine programme to reach beyond the classroom and school sports hall.
"I have always encouraged the girls to play as much cricket as possible, and lots of have taken up the offer to come and play for me at Oxton, which is great," said Kieran.
"I have moved on from Prenton now, but I'm confident the cricket will continue there because the girls have an equally keen teacher in Ben Taylor, who worked with me last year.
"The plan now is to introduce girls cricket to Neston High and to try to recreate some of the success we had at Prenton - once I get my feet under the table of course!"

Cheshire Cricket Board Marketing Manager Gareth Moorhouse congratulated Kieran on his award, and hopes he will continue to inspire girls to play the game in his new teaching role.
"I was fortunate enough to work alongside Kieran in my role as Wirral DCO and have witnessed first-hand the passion and enthusiasm he has for the game, and for women's cricket in particular," said Gareth.
"This award is nothing more than Kieran deserves, and it's great that he recognises the wider benefits of the Chance to Shine scheme, particularly in relation to the social impact it can have on the pupils."

Chance to Shine Manager Gavin Colebourn added: "We are proud of our association with Chance to Shine and it's fantastic that one of our volunteers has been recognised with this national award.
"It's because of the input of dedicated teachers like Kieran, who embrace the Chance to Shine message, that I am confident we can continue to grow cricket in our county, and inspire the next generation to embark on a lifelong passion for the game."

Since 2005, the Chance to Shine Schools programme has helped reverse the decline in cricket in state schools. Working in close partnership with 39 county cricket boards and hundreds of local cricket clubs, the charity has got over two and a half million boys and girls in 11,000 schools playing and learning through cricket .... more about Chance to Shine in Cheshire