Television personality, Chris Tarrant is a cricket fan and passionate supporter of disability charity, the Lord’s Taverners, who provide specialised adapted minibuses and other equipment to clubs and individuals involved with disability sport.
What drew you to become so involved with the Lord’s Taverners – and become President between 2009-2011?
I am an avid cricket fan and the Lord’s Taverners is a charity steeped in cricketing tradition, so it was a huge honour when I was asked to be President of the charity in 2009 and a role I enjoyed until 2011. The Taverners is the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity and focused on helping disadvantaged and disabled young people by providing them with a sporting chance. Many of these youngsters have already gone through real difficulties in life, and this is where we can help. Through our programmes we can provide these young people with important life experiences and skills, self-esteem and a real sense of achievement when taking part in the competitions we run. Quite simply, there can’t be a better initiative to get involved in and help fundraise for!
For people unaware of what the Lord’s Taverners do, can you outline a few recent success stories?
We recently held our biggest ever Disability Cricket Championships (LTDCC) at Lord’s Cricket Ground, this programme has provided the chance to play competitive cricket for nearly 2,000 young people with a physical, learning or sensory disability across 18 London boroughs since its launch in 2013.
The charity has now provided over 1,110 accessible minibuses for schools across the UK and 2016 is the 40th anniversary of the first minibus giveaway, and to celebrate this we will be presenting a record 40 minibuses in 2016.
The Lord’s Taverners are renowned for their iconic green minibuses. Could you tell us a bit more about them?
Yes, the Lord’s Taverners have provided specially adapted minibuses for schools catering for young people with learning and physical disabilities since 1976.
They play a crucial role in enabling schools to engage pupils in sporting and recreational activities as the transport significantly increases the number of facilities that students can access, their involvement in physical activities and the health benefits that go with it.
Our minibuses provide transport to and from school for pupils whose families are unable to and also give pupils greater opportunities to access the local community which helps them to develop independence and gain life skills.
Why do you feel that it’s important to support disabled people to take up sports?
All people deserve the opportunity to partake in sport regardless of background or ability. Sport is a wonderful means of allowing young people to develop, grow and learn vital life skills. Disabled people should never feel discouraged from partaking in sport, and programmes such as table cricket, which is run by the Lord’s Taverners, provide the opportunity for disabled youngsters to play in a competitive game of cricket and be part of a team, which are two things all individuals should have the chance to do.
You’ve clearly received a great deal of joy from cricket as both an enthusiastic amateur player and a spectator over the years. Is it important to give back?
Yes it’s vital to give back. I have been lucky to have had a long and successful professional career as well as deriving a great deal of pleasure from playing and meeting different characters from the world of cricket. I feel very fortunate to have been involved with the Taverners for over 30 years, helping to give disadvantaged and disabled young people a sporting chance.
How do you feel when you see equipment provided by Lord’s Taverners being used by people who otherwise might not have been enabled to play?
The equipment the Lord’s Taverners provides has made a huge difference to thousands of young people throughout the UK and given many disabled young people a chance to play sport. It’s fantastic to see people being given the chance to fulfil their potential. For example, we provided Jordanne Whiley with her first ever sports wheelchair and she has now won a number of major tennis tournaments including the wheelchair tennis doubles title at the French Open for the second time in June. A fantastic story.