England star's surprise for Grassroots Giving winners

31 May 2017

BUDDING cricketers at a small rural club had the shock of their lives when England and Yorkshire star Ryan Sidebottom dropped in for a training session.

Youngsters at Cononley Cricket Club in deepest Yorkshire were bowled over when Ryan made a surprise appearance at their picturesque ground to help spread the message about a community giving scheme run by the UK’s fourth largest building society, Skipton Building Society.

Cononley CC is one of the hundreds of community organisations to benefit from Skipton’s Grassroots Giving funding helping to purchase a new roll on cricket practice net. In fact, Grassroots Giving has donated £323,000 over the past four years, helping 646 small community organisations to flourish. This year it is again offering much-needed funds to another 164 community groups across the UK.

World Cup-winning England and Yorkshire cricketer Ryan said: “Yorkshire is a hotbed of talent when it comes to cricket, so to be able to surprise these kids with a visit and a mini-coaching session was brilliant. There are some really talented kids at the club and, importantly, they were having fun and enjoying the sport. It’s things like this that make me feel confident that the future is bright for cricket in Yorkshire and seeing the next generations coming through as I’m retiring is great.

“It’s great to see Skipton Building Society supporting our communities through its Grassroots Giving scheme and the cash boost is obviously making a difference at organisations like Cononley CC. I would encourage all small community groups across the country to apply this year.”

Cononley’s young cricketers certainly got a boost from meeting Ryan at their picturesque ground. Under 13s coach Steve Broadbent said: “What a marvellous occasion for these young cricketers to meet one of their idols. It was fantastic of Ryan to give up his time to come along to our ground. His visit will live in the youngsters’ memories for a long time.”

Under 17s coach Paul Hogg added: “When we applied for Grassroots Giving funding, we had been using a very old cricket net for net practice - it must have been 40 years old. The £500 we received helped us buy a new roll-on cricket net/cage that makes net practice so much better. It takes less time to set up and encourages new players to come down to practice. It also means that we can do different types of training particularly with the junior players.

“Encouraging young people to take up sport is so important - it develops their confidence, teamwork and fair play and we are delighted to be associated with Skipton Building Society through this brilliant programme.”

Cononley’s young cricketers not only enjoyed a coaching session from Ryan, including facing the former England paceman in the nets, but also took part in a question and answer session when they discovered, among other things, who were the best players Ryan had played against or with – Sachin Tendulkar and Joe Root.

Ryan will retire from professional cricket later this year. The iconic swing bowler will end his eventful 20-year career at the end of the current county season for Yorkshire.

Playing a pivotal role in England winning the T20 World Cup in 2010, Ryan is the only player in the last 15 years to win five county championships – with Yorkshire in 2001, 2014 and 2015 and with Nottinghamshire in 2005 and 2010.

He now runs his own Ryan Sidebottom Academies, which nurture young talent with professional coaching and his own Foundation, which offers free long-term sessions for disadvantaged kids across Yorkshire.

Ryan is hosting a series of events to celebrate retirement, for more info see

Now in its fifth year, Grassroots Giving was set up to support small community groups which might not normally attract any sort of funding. In 2017, a total of £82,000 has been made available to reward 164 groups.