At the Honourable Artillery Company grounds in the heart of London, England cricketing stars joined forces with a military charity for the annual City Invitational Cup of Cricket.
A City Select XI captained by former English county and international cricketer Dominic Cork took on ABF The Soldiers’ Charity XI, captained by Matthew Hoggard MBE.
As Forces Radio BFBS broadcaster Hal Stewart discovered, the charity cricket event raises money to provide a lifetime of support to soldiers, veterans and their families in times of need.
The City side elected to bat first, finishing with a respectable total of 139-6 after 20 overs.
Then it was time for the much anticipated afternoon tea giving everyone the chance to explore the beautiful Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) grounds. The weather wasn’t kind to the playing surface, raining for most of the morning but despite that, spirits weren’t dampened.
The Soldiers’ Charity XI reached the required total of 140 in just 17.5 overs, only losing three wickets in the process.
The win saw them reclaim the trophy they won in 2016 after the City Select XI snatched a last-gasp victory in last year’s fixture.
He might have been on the losing side but Dominic Cork expressed his delight about being invited and laid down the gauntlet for other athletes.
"It's a privilege to one; play in this game, two; to play on this ground as well.
"I was lucky enough I've played on this ground before but it's a magnificent place to play and obviously for a charity like it is, I hope other cricketers and other sportsmen, not just cricket players, let’s get some other sportsmen.
"Them footballers who think they're good at cricket or those rugby players who think they can bowl a ball let’s see you down here next year."
The match was all part of the HAC 1537 Partnership between the Honourable Artillery Company and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, which has now raised more than £135,000 since its inception in 2016.
A fantastic effort and that money has helped many former service personnel and their families.
Chief Operating Officer of ABF The Soldiers' Charity Brigadier Robin Bacon was instrumental in arranging the key elements for the day but was keen to heap praise on others.
"A fantastic team at the Soldiers' Charity organising this event for the third year running, really grateful to the HAC for their support, obviously really grateful to Army cricket and the Professional Cricketers Association."
James Savage has, for the last six years, run the ‘Barclay’s Big Curry’ raising more than £100,000 for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.
He felt compelled to raise money for the charity after the death of a close friend who was an officer in The Mercian Regiment.
ABF The Soldiers' Charity supported the family of his friend by providing accommodation so they could be with him while he was in hospital.
"I really wanted to do something to sort of remember John and put something back into the charity for the work they've done so the Big Curry was born."
Following the action-packed day of cricket, there was the now traditional gala dinner. This was held in the HAC’s stunning Prince Consort Rooms, hosted by Daily Mirror cricket correspondent, Dean Wilson who also played earlier in the day.
Guests were treated to a live Q&A with both celebrity captains. Then the fundraising auction which was hosted by Lord Jeffrey Archer, as well as a talk from Les Binns, one of our fantastic charity ambassadors.
Les shared his experiences of his time in the British Army, his battle with injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being medically discharged, and how he came to save the life of a fellow climber during an attempt to summit Mount Everest.
Terry Whenham is a Battlefield Guide and Researcher for Terry’s Battlefield Research and Tour Service he has been working with ABF The Soldiers’ Charity for four successive years raising more than £30,000. He says meeting the beneficiaries of the money he raises is incredibly motivating.
"It's what inspires me to go out every weekend and raise funds and I realise that we're very fortunate that we've got these guys looking after us."
The City Invitational Cup should return for 2019 with more legends of the game in attendance, more members of the military both serving and former serving and more vital funds raised to help those who need it most.
You can support and find out more: www.soldierscharity.org