Andy Shanks, of Uckfield, East Sussex, has been made a Patron of the Sussex Cricket Foundation, the charitable arm of Sussex Cricket.
This honour is bestowed on individuals who have made major contributions in the development of youth cricket within Sussex, nationally and internationally.
The Sussex Seniors Cricket section, has for several years, sponsored cricket in The Gambia, with Andy Shanks, one of the Sussex Over 70s players, leading the drive to bring cricket to the youngsters of that country and encouraging boys and girls to play cricket across all standards and all ages. His involvement has been exceptional.
Andy first visited The Gambia in 1984 and can remember coming across a game of cricket being played in the capital, Banjul, and dreamt of taking a cricket tour to that country. He achieved this in 2008 when he and the Sussex Seniors visited the country and played cricket against the young Gambians. Considerable quantities of cricket kit, collected by Andy, was distributed amongst the youngsters. The Sussex tourists became involved in a number of coaching sessions in local schools in Banjul, Tujereng, Janyang and Kotu South.
On a return visit in 2010, Andy noticed that the enthusiasm was undimmed although some of the cricket kit and equipment taken out two years previously was getting old. This particularly applied to the cricket mat. As a result of Andy’s enthusiasm, persuasiveness and ability to raise donations in cash and kind, a further large delivery of cricket kit and a new mat was made. He has been responsible for collecting cricket kit from many individuals and clubs throughout Sussex and even from further afield. It is estimated that the value of the cricket kit is well in excess of £100,000. To date, six shipments have been made. The mats are still in good condition and the Flix pitch can be conveyed to the more outlying schools, thus enabling more children to play.
David Bowden, Chair of the Foundation, reported that Andy and the Sussex Seniors have been very successful in establishing a cricketing interest in this West African Country, particularly around the capital, Banjul. The Sussex Seniors, led by Andy, have visited The Gambia on several occasions and have become intensely involved in coaching cricket at the schools and clubs. Andy has gained fame in the Gambian media and in the Gambian Government circles right up to leadership levels.
Andy states that he is delighted that the Sussex Cricket Foundation has honoured him in this way. “The Gambian project has consumed much of the last ten years of my life, however I have gained massive satisfaction in seeing less fortunate people in life being given the opportunity to play the game. I live In hope that one day a top class player will emerge”. The Sussex Seniors Cricket project will continue.