8:56 Foundation raises mental health awareness through social cricket

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Lynn-based men’s mental health organisation The 8:56 Foundation continues to take to cricket fields across West Norfolk under the banner of 8:56 Social Cricket.The Foundation was formed in September 2021 as a legacy of popular Lynn man Lee Calton following his tragic loss to suicide.Richard Watson from the Foundation explained: “We were approached by Grimston CC last May to play for the Coronation Cup, which they had been given by the Parish Council.”The idea was so we could use matches to raise awareness and support for the Foundation, men’s mental health and players if they needed it.”The Foundation approached one of Lee’s best friends, Aaron Nicol, to organise a team for the day.Nicol said: “It was an honour to have been asked. Lee loved both playing and watching cricket and we had spent so many hours doing both together.”People were so pleased to have been asked to play and the day turned out to be a huge success.” One of the key aims was to provide an environment where players could come along, play a social game, be around others, opportunity to talk or just listen in a welcoming environment. It was so much of a success that the team played nine matches across the summer, with close to 150 players involved in the games.The one repeating question after almost every game was that a return fixture in 2024 had to be played.The first one of those was at Swaffham CC last Friday as they played for the #ItsTimeToTalk Shield. Swaffham has been a keen advocate of the Foundation and has information on the services and what the 8:56 offers in their club handbook.Club chairman Colin Yates said: “Swaffham CC are proud and honoured to support such a worthy charitable cause. “Not only do events like this raise the profile of the Foundation but it also brings the community together as we saw.”Matt Elliot, captain for the night, added: “Being involved in the cricket social side helps without you even knowing. Just being out with different people, doing something that everyone enjoys makes it a great atmosphere.” The group has had a direct impact on players with one individual saying: “Having joined the group and playing cricket again last night made me smile again.”I’ve been through hell mentally over the last few months and people from the team like Danny Suckling and Aaron have helped me through and I can’t thank you all enough. Even my children noticed I am smiling today.”The game itself was won by the 8:56 Foundation.Batting first they scored 121 in their 20 overs with Swaffham scoring 62 in reply. Two 8:56 Caps were awarded on the evening, Mark Pickering for four games and Dan Fuller received his for taking three wickets in the Swaffham innings.Swaffham players Matt Elliot and Stuart Youds were awarded 8:56 Buckets for taking three wickets each in the 8:56 innings.The Foundation would like to thank all those who made the evening such a success.

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