A cricket fanatic is swapping his whites for walking boots to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and raise money for new practice facilities at his local club.
Michael Blatherwick, 48, has been a player and coach at his beloved Kimberley Institute Cricket Club, based at Newdigate Street, for almost 30 years.
Now he is bidding to conquer Africa’s tallest mountain measuring 5,895ft high to contribute towards the £30,000 needed to buy and install a new artificial grass wicket and nets.
Kimberley field no less than six junior teams, with coaching academies run all year around by a string of volunteers, helping keep kids off the streets.
“The old nets were installed before I arrived at the club in 1986 - so they’re getting on a bit!” said Michael, who is Kimberley’s director of cricket, overseeing five senior sides as well as the junior set-up.
“This eight-day trek is a trip of a lifetime and seemed as good a way as any to support the club.
“I’ve worked hard to build up my fitness, but the altitude sickness is an issue and then you have to cope with the lack of toilets and hygiene – and I’m normally a two showers a day man.
Kimberley Institute is one of the most successful clubs in the county, with the first team being founder members of the Nottinghamshire Premier League.
Last year, the club’s under-13 team reached the final 12 of the 2,500 teams who entered in the English Cricket Board Cup, the men’s second team won the Popkess Cup and the third and fourth teams, who play at Basil Russell playing fields, both won promotion.
Michael is being backed in his bid by former international players Samit Patel and Andre Adams, who are both one-time Kimberley players.
“What ‘Blathers’ is doing is fantastic because the club gives youngsters the chance to learn the game properly and play in a team environment,” said England cap Patel.
Kimberley hope to raise the first £2,500 towards the ambitious project from local sponsorship and plan to install the new nets ready for the 2016 season.
Chairman Geoff Griffiths added: “Michael has paid for the trip out of his own pocket, so every penny donated from his adventure will go directly into the fundraising.”
Individuals or businesses wishing to back Michael and Kimberley’s cause can email firstname.lastname@example.org.