blindcricketThe Primary Club is one of those slightly odd, very English, institutions that happened almost by accident. The Club was started at Beckenham Cricket Club, Kent, in 1955 by Ralph Lilly, Keith Patterson, Norman Patterson and Mike Sheeres, four slightly inebriated young bachelors, depressed by their own performance with the bat. They vowed to support F R Brown’s Fund for Blind Cricketers. Membership was initially limited to those out first ball in matches for or against Beckenham and in nine years, the Club raised £45.

As it became increasingly apparent that there could be a real role for The Primary Club, what began almost as a joke became a serious, if idiosyncratic, charity which grew rapidly. In 1973 the BBC’s Test Match Special team, in particular the late Brian Johnston, started to talk about the Club on the radio and members were recruited from cricket-playing countries all over the world.

There are now more than 5,000 members who contribute regularly. Since it began, the Primary Club has raised almost £5 million. It is the major supporter of the thriving network of VI cricket clubs in the UK but, although its origins and heart are in cricket, it also supports a wide range of other VI sports. In 2023/24, with the help of a substantial legacy from the late Kenneth James, the Primary Club made grants of more than £325,000 to clubs and organisations throughout the UK including futsal, baseball, goalball, golf, skiing, swimming, sailing, tandem cycling and the new sport of Showdown, as well as cricket.

The late Brian Johnston with Test Match Special producer (and current trustee) Peter Baxter, each sporting a Primary Club tie.

Originally all Club donations went to Dorton House School, run by the Royal London Society for the Blind. In recent years the Club has given considerable support to British Blind Sport and has also provided funds for sporting and recreational facilities to over 50 schools and clubs for the visually impaired all over the UK.

In 1997 Derek Underwood MBE, one of England’s finest cricketers, who began his cricket career in Beckenham, became Patron of the Club. Derek sadly passed away on 15 April 2024.

Click here for a pdf of the earliest Club document, circa 1955.

Click here to read the Club’s current Rules

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