A grandmother is proving it is never too late to follow in the footsteps of your sporting heroes after she decided to take up cricket to get fit and active.
Marie Dalton had not participated in sport for more than 40 years and was determined to do something to improve her health and wellbeing.
The 62-year-old is one of the growing number of parents and grandparents who have had enough of standing on the sidelines and are now taking up cricket to improve their fitness levels.
After years of watching her son playing the sport at school and at club level, Marie, who cites Mark Ramprakash and Paul Collingwood among her heroes, soon became hooked.
But now she has decided to head into the nets herself and is taking part in new Move Into Sport sessions aimed at those at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
And the gentle exercise is already helping her to recover from a painful knee injury, that left her struggling even to walk up the stairs for more than a year.
“I injured my knee last year and I have reached the stage now that it is not going to get better if I don’t do exercise,” said Marie, who works as a business manager for a school.
“I have done very little exercise other than walking since I left school. With work and a family there just never seemed the time.
“I tried going to the gym sometimes, but I never enjoyed it and so it didn’t last.
“But now I am reaching the age where I am starting to stiffen up and I recognise for my health I have to get more active so I don’t lose my flexibility.
“I also lost my dad when he was in his early 60s and there is a history of strokes in the family and so I felt it was the time I really needed to do something.
“Since my son started playing I have loved cricket, but never once thought I would end up playing myself.
“These sessions are a lot of fun and anyone can come along and have a go. Cricket really is a sport for all ages.
“We do a warm-up and then practise throwing and catching and get some time in the nets.
“You don’t even realise you are exercising. I feel so much better afterwards.”
The Move into Sport sessions run at the same time as the junior training sessions, meaning Marie can train alongside her grandsons Myles, nine, and Finlay, seven.
Dad-of-three Simon Reid, 47, has also signed up. His children Liam, 18, Lauren, 15, and Callum, 13, and wife Julie, all play for the club and so instead of just watching them in action, he can now pick up the bat himself.
“The kids kept saying to me ‘Haway Dad, get in the nets’, so I started throwing some balls down and enjoyed it.
“Then when the courses came up I thought I’d give it a go,” said Simon, a factory process operator, who lives in Brandon, County Durham, with his family.
“I never played cricket when I was younger, but thought if I can learn to play a bit then I can help them in their training too.
“It’s a good sport for anyone wanting to ease themselves back into exercise as it is quite gentle to start but then you can build up your fitness and move up to join a team if you’re good enough.
“It’s a really good place to come down as a family and I’m looking forward to the summer when we can all go and play outside.”
Brandon Cricket Club may be one of Durham County’s leading clubs, finishing second in the North East Premier League First Division in 2013, but it must never lose sight of its roots and its place in the community, according to club chairman, Ian Johnson.
He said: “Not everyone can or wants to be a superstar performing in the club’s North East Premier League First and Second Teams and Brandon Cricket Club provides opportunities to play at all levels, from a social and friendly level in the T20 Midweek Team, in development teams on a weekend through to whatever level a person would like to achieve.
“We are a very family-orientated club and we thought these sessions would be a great way to get the parents and grandparents away from the sidelines and taking part themselves.”
Move into Sport is a programme which is aiming to get local people active through sport, tailored for those who are either not active enough, overweight or have a family history of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Beginners’ courses are taking place across County Durham.
Andrew Power, physical activity manager for County Durham Sport, said: “The Move into Sport beginners’ courses have been launched in a partnership effort to give adults across County Durham who aren’t currently doing any sport the chance to ‘have a go’.
“We are encouraging people who are worried they may struggle, or who might want to give a particular sport a try, to get in touch about the range of courses starting soon.”
Brandon Cricket Club are offering a 10-week beginners’ course for adults to help learn the skills of the game of cricket.
The focus will be on having fun and participants can find their own level, progressing into the club if they want to.
The Journal collaborated with Nova International more than two years ago to launch our Great North Fitness Revolution.
The campaign is challenging everyone to make a pledge to get active and make the positive changes that will lead to a better quality of life.
- For more information, contact Ian Johnson on 0191 378 9288, email ianjohnson@bramble down.com or visit www.brandon.play-cricket .com
For more information on MoveintoSport courses, visit http://www.countydurhamsport.com/physical_activity/move_into_sport