An inspirational dad who has devoted hours to helping children play cricket will be the guest of honour at Derby’s biggest fireworks extravaganza this weekend when the Derbyshire County Cricket Club plays host to the annual Fireworks Night and Fun Fair.
Martin Forster, who uses a wheelchair after suffering chronic spinal injuries in a workplace accident, spends up to five hours a week coaching youngsters at Wirksworth and Middleton Cricket Club.
Now his dedication to the sport he loves has been recognised after he was chosen to set off the fireworks display at the Pattonair County Ground on Sunday.
By his side will be his wife Katie, a deputy head teacher at a primary school in Derby, and their children, Martha, 11, Theo, nine, and seven-year-old Joss.
Martin, 53, said he was honoured to have been invited and added: “We are absolutely thrilled – it’s nice to be part of something like this – and it’s a great opportunity for my kids.”
The invitation is a fitting tribute to Martin’s devotion to cricket and the time he spends with the club’s youngsters nurturing and developing their skills and talent.
“I’ve been watching cricket for the last nineteen years and haven’t been able to play but being part of something with young kids and watching them develop their love for the sport has been a joy and delight,” he said.
Martin suffered his life-changing injuries in June 2000. He was left with extreme mobility problems which means he needs a wheelchair for the rest his life.
His friends and family encouraged him to be involved in the Wirksworth and Middleton CC, his local cricket club, where he became an All Stars Activator - a key volunteer who creates a fun and inclusive environment for children and parents.
He now uses a specialised sports wheelchair, paid for with the help of a fundraiser organised by the club, coupled with generous donations from friends.
“The new wheelchair allowed me to take part in something which I thought I would never be able to do again,” said Martin, who is a stay-at-home dad. “Over these past six months, it’s given me an opportunity to be involved in cricket again.”
In recognition of his efforts, Martin was recently presented with the 2019 Junior All Stars Activator for Derbyshire award by the Derbyshire County Cricket Board.
Pattonair, the leading global aerospace supply chain service provider, is the Derbyshire County Cricket Club’s principal partner and supports its affiliated clubs, including Wirksworth and Middleton CC, in various initiatives to encourage youngsters to be involved in the sport.
Wayne Hollinshead, Pattonair’s Chief Executive Officer, said the company was delighted to invite Martin to set off the fireworks display.
“It is compelling to see how much his time spent volunteering at the cricket club means to him,” he said. “At Pattonair we are always looking for ways to encourage children to take up sporting activities.
“This underlines our commitment to build strong ties with the local community and more importantly, it is a way to celebrate those who do so much unsung work in serving their communities.”
Ryan Duckett, Chief Executive of Derbyshire County Cricket Club said, “With their commitment to the Derby community, Pattonair enabled hundreds of school children to attend cricket matches in summer. They are the main partner in our annual Fireworks Night and Fun Fair which has grown year-on-year to become the largest display in the city.
“It’s great to work with a global business whose roots are in Derby and it’s been pleasing to see the positive effects of having Pattonair’s support in the local community.”
Pattonair embarked on a four-year deal with the club earlier this year. Its involvement has included investing in upgrading the club’s facilities as well as supporting various initiatives and sponsoring key events.
The club’s annual fireworks display will return for its fourth successive run at the Pattonair County Ground on Sunday 3rd November. Derby’s biggest pyrotechnic and fireworks display will be hosted by Pattonair, in partnership with Smooth Radio.
As well as the spectacular fireworks display, visitors will be able to enjoy fairground attractions, entertainment and music. The gates will open at 4pm. For further details, go here.
"We are absolutely thrilled its nice to be part of something like this and its a great opportunity for my kids."
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