Belvoir Cricket & Countryside Trust was founded through the work of Phil O’Brien, Stephen Henderson and Darren Bicknell. The story started in 2006, when Phil wanted to find junior cricket for his 8 year old son in Knipton – the village he had recently moved to. The local club had just started junior cricket again after a gap of some years – but could not accommodate children this young. Phil decided to help to get a junior initiative underway.

The Belvoir Bees was started in April 2007 by Phil with the help of Keith Tongue of Nottinghamshire Country Cricket Club. The launch night was a success – with Leicestershire CC loaning their Twenty20 Cup for the evening. During the first season, Stephen Henderson (a former county cricketer and active MCC committee member) brought his sons along to enjoy the sessions. Phil and Stephen struck up a friendship – and they hatched plans to develop the Bees and explore other ways of taking advantage of the beautiful venue in the grounds of Belvoir Castle.

During this exploration, Phil met with Darren Bicknell who was then working for another Trust in Nottinghamshire. Darren suggested that the initial project could follow along the lines of John Barclay’s work at the Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation. John’s efforts, starting in 1985, have used cricket to bring children out of cities and in to the countryside.

In the summer of 2008, a fundraising match was held between the Duke of Rutland XI and a Richard Hadlee XI to gauge interest in setting up the Belvoir Cricket & Countryside Trust. This event raised over £5,000 and engaged the interest of many people in the cricket community including Tony Lewis, the late Bill Frindall and Jonathan Agnew.

Her Grace the Duchess of Rutland became our Patron and along the way, the Trust has recruited Ambassadors and Trustees. International cricketer Graeme Swann and cricket broadcaster and former professional England bowler, Jonathan Agnew, offered to support the Trust in an Ambassadorial role and some of our former Trustees include, Mrs Moneypenny from the Financial Times (who has written about the Trust and organised Her Grace’s trip to the Bradman Foundation in Australia); Phillip Hodson, from the MCC and Oval Group; Emma Agnew from BBC East Midlands; and John Barclay from Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation (who has given us the benefit of his experience of running a cricket charity in a Castle’s grounds).

Current Trustees, who dedicate so much of their time to our trust, can be found on Our Team page.

Key Milestones

2006 Cricket for young players in the Vale of Belvoir began.
2007 Belvoir Bees began. A dedicated weekly training programme for young people in the community set up by Phil O’Brien.
2009 The Belvoir Castle Cricket Trust was formed by Phil O’Brien who became
Chair, along with Trustee Stephen Henderson. Darren Bicknell became
Trust Director in January. Her Grace the Duchess of Rutland became our
2010 The first pilot Cricket and Countryside Days took place.
2010 The first Duchess of Rutland v MCC cricket match and dinner took place
featuring England cricketers John Emburey, Martin Bicknell, Ashley
Giles, John Stephenson, and Darren Bicknell.
2011 The BCCT began to visit Special Needs Schools delivering Kwik cricket
and schools were invited to Knipton for a Cricket and Countryside Day.
2015 Phil O’Brien stepped down from his role as Chair but remained a Trustee;
John Chatfield-Roberts took on the role. We are extremely grateful to
Phil for his foresight and drive to establish the Charity.
2016 The Teach cricket programme was introduced into local schools.
2019 Teach Basketball and Bees Basketball were added to our programmes by Operations Director, Neil Atkins.
2019 Online videos and coaching sessions were introduced to keep our children engaged and healthy during covid.
2020 Summer and Easter Holiday schemes were introduced.
2022 John Chatfield-Roberts stepped down from the role of Chair; he saw
continued growth to the trust during his time with us and we will always
be grateful for his contributions over the years.
2023 The Trust was delighted to welcome Martin Reason as our new Chair and
Julie Hopkins as our new Vice-Chair. With their combined experience,
they are the perfect duo to lead us through the expansion of our
facilities and wider educational offer.

Over the years, the Trust has continued to grow and to develop more programmes for our children. We have also worked hard to develop our network of volunteers and coaches.

Growth of the Belvoir Cricket & Countryside Trust:

2009 – approx. 400 children took part in pilot projects

2010 – 1,710 children                           

2011 – 2,168 children

2012 – 2,442 children                           

2013 – 2,521 children

2014 – 2,296 children                                

2015 – 2,581 children                            

2016 – 2,725 children                                

2017 – 2,824 children

2018 – 2,730 children                           

2019 – 3,089 children

2020 – 944 children (Covid-19)              

2021 – 2,212 children (Covid-19)

2022 – 4,263 children

2023 – 4,273 children    

Over the last few years our numbers of coaches and volunteers has risen from 35 to well over 50 covering a wide range of subjects, from cricket to farming, birds of prey, shepherding, orienteering, fishing, and gun dog demonstrations to name but a few.

We are privileged and very grateful that so many people wish to be involved.