Honour for 'one of life’s unsung and understated legends'

February 03 2022
Honour for 'one of life’s unsung and understated legends'

A CRICKET coach who has helped young players into the game for more than 30 years has been honoured for his work.

Ian Crawford was awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list.

Ian played professionally for Gloucestershire between 1975 and 1978 but played the majority of his games for Stapleton Cricket Club, which he joined as a boy.

He played his first game for the club in 1969 and continued as a bowler until 2010.

But it is his work helping develop young players at Stapleton, where he has been youth coordinator since 1987, and across the wider Bristol area – he has been the president of the Bristol Youth Cricket League since 2012 – which brought Ian his BEM for services to sport and the community.

Among the generations of players who have been helped are several teenagers who came to the Bristol area as refugees from Afghanistan.

Ian said the connection started when a young player's parent, who worked for the city council, mentioned that a refugee who had arrived in the city liked playing cricket.

The teenager came to the club to play and several more followed, becoming established players.

Ian said: "They have loved playing cricket and are very talented. English is often a problem at the start but they soon pick up cricket terms!"

Ian, who worked in Airbus's finance department until he retired in 2016, said it was "quite a shock" to receive the letter informing him of his award in early December, "totally out of the blue".

He said: "It's nice to think someone was good enough to put me forward and since word got out, some people have been on touch with me who I haven't seen for years, so it's been nice.

"We've got a club a Stapleton where a lot of people work very hard at creating what we've got, from the chairman downwards. The committee work very hard and we've got a lot of coaches who come along and give their time."

Ian, who lives in Bishopston, said that the number of young players joining had increased since the pandemic lockdown as more families saw the appeal of the sport.

Stapleton CC chairman Andy Chidgey said: "Ian is one of the most incredibly kind, conscientious and selfless people you will ever meet.

"He holds the respect of every person who knows him in the Bristol cricket community because he is amazingly patient, committed, kind and, above all, totally, totally fair.  

"He is simply one of life’s unsung and understated legends and truly deserved the recognition of the British Empire Medal for his endless service to our club and the wider community.

"As a cricket club we consider ourselves very, very lucky to have someone as brilliant as Crawf at the club.

"He has done so much for the club over so many years, as a player, captain, committee member, benefactor and youth coordinator (as well as all of the many other jobs he helps out with).

"I am deeply proud to call him my friend and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that they threw away the mould when they made him. He simply is our hero."