In 1950 a group of like-minded cricket enthusiasts gathered in the famous Tavern at Lord’s Cricket Ground. They realised how lucky they were to be enjoying their sport and socialising with friends, and so the conversation turned to a shared desire to help those less fortunate than themselves. With that, the idea of creating a club to help young people took hold.
By September 1950 the club had more than 70 members, including the broadcaster John Snagge and cricketer Jack Hobbs. Esteemed actor, John Mills, took on the role of President and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was delighted to become the Patron and Twelfth Man (a position he holds to this day). The club began to raise money and the first charitable contributions to the National Playing Fields Association were made.
The creation of the Lord’s Taverners cricket team soon followed and in 1952 the first fixture took place against Hertfordshire’s Bishops Stortford Cricket Club. The ‘Taverners XI’, a quirky mix of former Test cricketers, county stalwarts and entertainers remains an enthusiastic team today, with several matches taking place across the UK and abroad each year.
This initial enthusiasm quickly led to the first committee meeting on 3 July 1950 at the Comedy Theatre (now the Harold Pinter Theatre where a plaque commemorates the event) and the Lord’s Taverners club was born.
Following the introduction of the Charities Act of 1960, we were formally recognised as a charity in 1964. However, it was under the auspices of Tony Swainson, who became the Club Secretary in 1972, that the Lord’s Taverners changed from being a club to being a charity with a club ethos.
We also expanded our fundraising outside of the London area with the creation of regional volunteer committees (of which we now have over 50) and moved into a new area of charitable fundraising and giving, through the iconic green Lord’s Taverners minibuses.
Our minibuses are now a frequent site all around the UK and since 1972 we have proudly put over 1,200 of them on the road. They help schools and associations looking after young people with disabilities and learning difficulties to get to school and access their local community.
More recently, we have moved in to funding sensory rooms, play equipment and sports wheelchairs, and in 2007 started our partnership with British Wheelchair Basketball to develop junior participation in the sport. This was soon followed by a similar partnership with Boccia England, and, more recently, Wheelchair Rugby. Each of these programmes is focussed on the creation of sustainable opportunities for young disabled people to play sport.
Cricket has always been at the heart of the Lord’s Taverners and the creation of opportunities for young people to play the sport has been part of our purpose for many years. During the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, our focus was on the provision of kit and equipment to clubs and schools to enable the development of colts cricket, as well as a particular focus on girl’s cricket, through the support of the Lady Taverners. However, in 2010 the focus moved towards providing opportunities for young disabled people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Our activity today embraces disability cricket (through our national Super 1s and Table Cricket programmes) as well as engaging young people from areas of deprivation across the UK through Wicketz. Each of these programmes provides youngsters with an opportunity to enjoy cricket with friends, whilst also developing wider skills and creating life opportunities.
In keeping with our roots, we proudly put the fun in fundraising through a huge variety of well attended events across the UK that generate substantial sums that we use to improve many young people’s lives.