WHEN the COVID pandemic halted play, Bready Cricket Club quickly assembled and served up Sunday lunches and activities to support the community that sustains it.
Volunteers at the club came together to provide a meals on wheels service to those most in need in the local surroundings, particularly the elderly and those in isolation or shielding.
Every Sunday, around 130 piping hot meals and tasty desserts were delivered to the doors of residents in Bready, Magheramason, Cullion and surrounding areas by the volunteers who became know as the 'Cricketing Cooks'. In total, 4,500 meals were provided.
The team's efforts have now been duly recognised by the National Lottery's Good Causes and has been shortlisted under the 'National Lottery Project of the Year' category.
A short biography accompanying the entry states: "Bready Cricket Club in Co Tyrone has been a key part of the village community for more than 80 years, providing grassroots sports coaching and competition to boys and girls, as well as senior players of both sexes. Its clubhouse is also a focal point for social gatherings.
"When the pandemic stopped play, the club knew the community still needed it and decided to cook up free Sunday meals for the elderly, vulnerable and front-line workers on a weekend early in the first lockdown.
"This act of kindness was so well received that the club volunteers continued with the initiative.
"Over 12 months, Bready’s Cricketing Cooks made and delivered meals every Sunday, serving up 4,500 portions in total.
"They did this despite the club being under intense financial pressure due to the cessation of sporting activities and the enforced closure of the clubhouse.
"With the help of Sport Northern Ireland and The National Lottery Community Fund, it found additional ways to reach out to people around it and reduce isolation, running activities such as socially distanced keep fit and bingo and socially distanced fun for the youth teams who had missed out on months of school and seeing friends.
"The resulting growth in community participation has seen more volunteers flow into the club, many of whom have repaid the club member’s kindness by helping with essential maintenance work over the last year. A perfect example of a club building back better."
The club said it is delighted to have been nominated and with the public vote now open, they are urging supporters to get behind them.
"We’re delighted to announce we’re nominated for the National Lottery Awards Project of the Year for the club’s ‘Cricketing Cooks’ project throughout the pandemic," a spokesperson said.
"We now need your help and votes. So, please share with your friends and family.
"We’re so pleased to be in the shortlist. Please vote for us Twitter using #NLABreadyCricket or online at https://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards."