Barnsley walking cricket player, 78, reveals how the sport helped beat depression

A Yorkshire septuagenarian has opened up about how putting their best bat forward has helped them tackle a long-term mental health condition.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 6:00 am

Kate Mason, 78, has suffered from depression since adolescence.

Despite trying a spate of treatments including drugs, counselling and several different therapies, nothing was able to help improve her “inner core of sadness”.

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During the pandemic Barnsley-based Mrs Mason, a retired secondary school teacher, and university lecturer, also found her mental health began to worsen.

But after stumbling upon an advertisement for walking cricket in her local community, Mrs Mason said her life has been transformed after taking a “leap of faith” and taking up the game.

Walking Cricket was developed as a new concept in 2019 making cricket accessible to older adults, or individuals who are semi – retired or retired.

There is no running allowed and it is played with a softer ball.

Pictured, Kate Mason, 78, who has suffered from depression, since adolescence, but since taking up the sport of walking cricket 14 months ago she said her mental health has improved “drastically” and she will shortly be heading to the Emerald Headingley Stadium to play in a match. Photo credit: Submitted photo

Mrs Mason said: “Up to this point, I had never touched a cricket ball or bat in my life, never mind taking part in a game, so this was a leap of faith on my part.

“Walking cricket has changed my outlook on life and myself.”

Since Mrs Mason, originally from Sheffield, and her husband attended the course in Barnsley 14 months ago she said her mental health has improved “drastically” and she will shortly be heading to the Emerald Headingley Stadium to play in a match.

She said: "How’s that for an achievement!"

A match takes place at the Emerald Headingley Stadium in June this year. Since Kate Mason, 78, started walking cricket in Barnsley 14 months ago she said her mental health has improved “drastically” and she will shortly be heading to the Emerald Headingley Stadium to play in a match. Photo credit: Tony Johnson/ JPIMedia

Kendal James, the participant manager for the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, added: "Our walking cricket programmes have become increasingly popular and affected so many participants, like Kate in a positive way.

"It is wonderful to hear, especially after the hardship they have faced over the last year.

"We are now looking to build some research into this programme to evidence further the health and wellbeing benefits whilst also reducing isolation amongst older adults."

In the region there are roughly 250 participants taking part in the sport across more than 10 walking cricket clubs run by the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation.

Pictured, Will Saville, the chief executive for the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation - the charity arm of the Yorkshire Cricket Club. In the region there are roughly 250 participants taking part in walking cricket across more than 10 clubs run by the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation. Photo credit: Submitted picture

In South Yorkshire two clubs run in Barnsley while other groups can be found in Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.

While Wakefield, Huddersfield and Leeds groups are run in West Yorkshire and elsewhere there are also groups in Whitby, Harrogate and Hull.

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