The summer of 2020 will live long in the memory for all sorts of reasons, but for Laura Newman, at least, there will always be a positive association to look back on. Elected as Linlithgow Cricket Club’s first-ever female President, Laura is looking forward to continuing the work she began as fundraising co-ordinator two years ago. Starting her new role against the backdrop of a global pandemic, however, was not quite what she was expecting.
“Yes, it hasn’t turned out to be the baptism I envisaged when I said I’d take on the job!” she said. “But it’s a real privilege to be able to do so. We’re a very friendly club and a very family-orientated club, and that has really come out during this crisis as well.
“I first got involved with Linlithgow a few years ago through my husband and brother-in-law,” she went on, “and ended up on the committee because at that time there was no-one to organise the fundraising that was needed to help the club improve its facilities. That’s what my original role was, and when our current President was giving up a few people said that I should do it. Although I’m only thirty, I’d been on a few committees and so I knew what would be involved, but it’s certainly been made more difficult this year, for obvious reasons.”
Although Laura is the first female to serve as President at the West Lothian club, she is far from alone when it comes to the wider committee.
“The group is quite diverse in that our secretary and our property convenor are also female,” she said. “Like me, they are wives of players who don’t necessarily want to be involved in the cricket side of things but have time available to help in other ways. In the past it was a struggle to find players to put the teams out every week, and because the committee had to spend so much time on that, they weren’t able to think about fundraising or the more social things that brought the club together.
“[The three of us] aren’t playing every week, but we go down and support the team and can devote our time to building up those other areas instead.”
Recent improvements have included the installation of new flooring and showers in the changing rooms, while thousands of pounds have also been raised in the memory of scorer Michael Scott, whose association with Linlithgow stretched back over thirty years.
“We lost Michael last week at the age of just 54,” said Laura, “and because we weren’t able to say goodbye in the way we usually would, we were thinking about how we could leave a legacy at the club for him. Our scorebox has needed to be replaced for years, so we set up a funding page on the Thursday and by the weekend it had reached our target of £5,000. We’ll now be able to replace the scorebox in his honour. He never played cricket in his life but he loved scoring, so we thought it was a fitting tribute.
“We were also very sad to lose George Strachan recently, who was our groundsman for many years as well as our oldest member.”
Quite apart from the current situation in which cricket finds itself, Linlithgow has been through some challenging times, but with membership on the rise and a thriving social calendar, the club has plenty of cause for optimism.
“Through a lot of hard work in advertising the club and getting it a bit more involved within Linlithgow, things are looking really positive,” said Laura. “We hold beer tastings with the local farm shop and the local curry house came along and did a buffet night for us, which meant they got a bit of money per head and we also made some from ticket sales. Things like that brought a bit of a buzz which got people talking, and our membership has increased as a result.
“We have about thirty playing members, but what is nice about Linlithgow is that there is a very varied age-range, with older members and a junior section that’s thriving. We have about 28 juniors who train on a Monday, doing a combination of soft ball and Kwik Cricket, and when they’re ready to start playing with the hard ball we try to get them involved with our second team. That has worked well, to the point where we were considering the re-introduction of our third team to play some Sunday cricket which would get the juniors even more exposure. Although that’s on hold for the moment, of course!
“But it’s a lovely club to be involved in,” concluded Laura. “My enjoyment is in the fundraising, in creating a nice event that people like to come to that makes some money for the club, but the cricket side is growing as well. Our children are there on a Saturday afternoon to cheer on the first or second team, and with most of them now starting to play juniors, too, it’s nice to see that cricket in Linlithgow is carrying on into the next generation.”