To all our supporters,
I hope you and your families are well.
As we approach the end of another year, I wanted to write to you with some reflections on the year that we have had here at the Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation. Despite the ongoing effects of the pandemic, we have had a very successful and enjoyable year.
There is no doubt in my mind that the educational attainment and wellbeing of disadvantaged children have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, so our interventions have been of greater importance this year. As with last year, we had to act with agility and creativity at times to ensure we did whatever we could to meet the needs of young people. In total, we welcomed 1134 young people to our ground for over 2000 magical, unique experiences.
As you will all have seen, the sport of cricket has made the headlines for the wrong reasons recently. Whilst fully acknowledging that the Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation can and needs to do more in supporting the cause of equality, diversity and inclusion, I also feel proud that, in our 35th year, embracing diversity and tackling inequality have been at the heart of what we have done from the very beginning.
Please take a look at this video clip that summarises what we have achieved this year: ACCF Review Film 2021
Again, children from inner London boroughs, and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), remained key areas of focus. However, as per our strategic plan, we developed an additional range of programmes to support local children and their families. This included a focus on some of the most vulnerable children in West Sussex, such as a group of 80 children all of whom had been excluded from mainstream education, and a group of children living in care.
With many activity providers unable to remain open or active, we remained open during the height of lockdown in February and March to provide crucial safe, outdoor space and structured outdoor activity for 45 families of children with disabilities.
After the previous 18 months, our London children valued the experiences we offer even more than usual. The same can be said too of the SEND schools that visited. Given that many children with SEND have underlying health conditions, this was sadly the programme that experienced most pandemic based disruption this year.
We also trialled some new activities this year. Whilst cricket remains the common denominator in our programmes, our unique setting offers so much more than that. Our London children continue to tell us that their visit contains a series of firsts: first time away from home, first time played in the woods, first time seen a beach, or a castle and it goes on. One young boy even said it was the first time he had been to sleep in the dark.
Some of these new activities had a health and wellbeing focus. Lewis Hatchett, an ex-Sussex CCC left-arm seamer who overcame significant adversity to reach the professional level, provided wonderful sessions on how children can manage their mental health and generally be the best version of themselves. He also provided age-appropriate introductions to yoga and mindfulness, and this all resonated incredibly well with the young people and their group leaders. These activities were also very helpful in our quest to ensure that the impact of a visit to Arundel can be long lasting.
On the subject of impact, greater scrutiny in the charity sector and from grant giving bodies means we must seek to understand our impact more. This year, we created the “Arundel Way” which provides some evidence as to how a visit to us, and the range of activities we offer, helps children with resilience, creative thinking, positivity, spirit of adventure, teamwork, focus as well as how positive they feel about cricket.
We have developed a number of new partnerships this year, from a range of sectors, and see partnerships as crucial to ensuring we work with the right children, that we deliver high quality programmes that deliver sustained impact.
Our fundraising events have been incredibly well supported this year. Our cycle ride, in its 2nd year, had nearly 90 participants, almost double the inaugural year in 2019. Our golf day at Goodwood was at capacity and a huge success in the sunshine. Our inaugural bridge day, the brainchild of our wonderful Trustee Judy Martin-Jenkins, had over 120 participants and was another wonderful day. These 3 events alone raised over £20,000.
These events contributed to what was another successful year of fundraising. In total we raised over £310,000 and realised a small surplus. As I alluded to in my July update, whilst our financial position is relatively strong, we know we cannot rest on our laurels, and we anticipate the fundraising challenge becoming harder as we move into what will hopefully be a post-pandemic era. I say this knowing full well that the need for interventions such as ours is a great as ever and we must seek to do more for young people, not less.
As well as another bumper year of charitable activity next year, 2022 is also significant as it will mark 125 years of cricket played on the ground. The Friends of Arundel Castle Club is running a series of events to mark the occasion, including a launch dinner in the Baron’s Hall of Arundel Castle, so please keep an eye on their website for news of events.
The final word must go to you, our supporters. We are only able to deliver our programmes thanks to your incredible, loyal, longstanding generosity and we are all extremely grateful for everything you do for us.
I wish you all, and your families, the very best of health and happiness over the festive period.
Director, Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation