Wednesday, 02 June 2021 07:00

Gary Shankland – Chair of Trustees

After close to a decade of volunteering with CWB Gary has now taken over as Chair of Trustees so we thought it would be good to catch up with him and ask a few questions about why he is still involved and his journey so far.

How and when did you find out about CWB?
Rather embarrassingly, I actually volunteered for the wrong charity. A couple of years prior to my first involvement with CWB I had attended a fundraising event for a cricket charity which carried out coaching overseas with social and health messaging involved. Fast forward a couple of years and I was watching Sports Relief on TV. My first child was on the way and I thought it’s now or never if I am going to do this so, after a quick bit of Google searching, I had signed up for a trip to Rwanda with CWB. It was only the next day when I mentioned it to the friend who attended the fundraiser with me that he noted it was a completely different charity. I have to say, it definitely ranks among my better mistakes as I have loved every minute of my involvement with CWB since that first trip in 2013.

Why is it so important to integrate health messaging with sport?
I think children and young adults feel able to talk to sports coaches as equals. It gives them an opportunity to discuss fears, concerns or just satisfy their thirst for knowledge in a way that they wouldn’t feel able to with parents or teachers. It’s so much easier to get messages across and improve knowledge in a relaxed and fun environment where people are engaged.

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Where would you most like to visit on a CWB project?
Despite getting through 8 projects, I still haven’t been to Uganda which is one of our key host countries. I feel like I know the ambassadors there so well without having ever met them so that is definitely on my wish list. After that, Nepal, to see the great work we are doing in partnership with MCCF and Connecting Clubs. Coaching in the shadow of Everest certainly appeals!

How do you see CWB developing in the next 5 years?
My hope is that we will see almost all delivery being led by the newly formed Africa Delivery Group which is run by our CWB ambassadors in each of our host countries. Nobody knows better than them what social or health issues need addressing locally. Added to the fact that they are a fantastic bunch of coaches and more importantly, role models for the children they coach, they are very much the most important part of the charity and crucial to its longevity.

What’s your favourite cricketing moment?
Any moment that involves Carl Hooper batting in a wide brimmed sun hat.

What do you do when you're not CWB-ing?
Outside of work, I am a keen sports fan, so can usually be found disappointed at Craven Cottage as Fulham lose again, coaching my son’s youth football team or watching football, rugby or cricket in person or on TV. I’m also a keen fisherman, much to Lee Booth’s (CWB’s Head of Delivery) delight when me arriving in Rwanda with a copy of Trout and Salmon magazine gave him ample ammunition for two weeks of mickey taking.



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