Sixes and smiles for big-hearted Aash

THERE were smiles and sixes galore at a season-ending family fundraiser featuring some of Cheshire's most talented junior cricketers.

Prestbury Cricket Club was the setting for two fun-filled Twenty20 matches, as players and parents from Cheshire's Under 11 and Under 12 squads gathered to raise money and awareness for one of their most cherished supporters.

Aash-Jai Evans has been a familiar face at Cheshire County and District Matches over the past two years, watching his older brother Ethan from behind the boundary on the K-Walker he uses to support the lower half of his body.

Five-year-old Aash was born with diplegic cerebral palsy, a form of cerebral palsy marked by tense muscles and spasms, which affects the leg muscles in particular, reducing the range of motion.

In August at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, courageous Aash underwent potentially life-changing surgery on the spine in an effort to relieve pain and reduce spasticity.

The cost of the operation and subsequent physiotherapy has already topped £40,000 and kind-hearted members of the Cheshire Cricket Family are continuing to support Aash by playing the game they love.

Last year, the Cheshire Under 11 Development squad raised more than £500 by selling special 'Aash-Jai Quality of Life Fund,' wrist bands, modelled on social media by former England captain Michael Vaughan and Lancashire legend Glen Chapple.

And September's Twenty20 bash at Prestbury proved equally successful, with more than £600 raised on the day for the Jai-Evans family.

Event coordinator Adam Massey described the day as "one of his most memorable in cricket" and thanked everyone for their contribution to a terrific cause.

Adam said: "I have had 29 years at Prestbury as a player and a coach, with halcyon days in the mid-late 1990's both on and off the field, and in terms of a completely satisfying day this was right up amongst them.

"I thought that making the day a fundraiser might have been a little cheeky as some of the families had not met Aash before but the response was truly overwhelming. At least half a dozen who couldn't make it still contributed to the fund.

"What a great afternoon it was too, a lot of fun and credit to all the boys for playing in such a wonderful spirit. It was a treat to see the guys playing without the pressure of 'Shire' at the end of the team name!

"Aash was a star, dressed in his Chester City goalkeepers outfit and it was great to see Ethan, Shaileena and Mark again too. Aash is progressing brilliantly since the operation and will be having further tendon lengthening surgery at the end of this year I believe, all being well."

Each player donated £10 to play in the match at Prestbury, and Adam believes the season-ending fixture could become a permanent one in the club calendar.

He added: "Everyone wants to do something similar next year and I think there's definitely mileage in that. All in all it was one of those special days we'll remember that came out of nothing more than a bunch of lads brought together by a love of cricket, wanting another game before the season's end."

Aash's mother Shaileena was overwhelmed by the support for her family.

She said: I would just like to say a massive thank you to Angela and Adam for their continued support and for organising such a fantastic day.

"And what an amazing day it was. The support was immense and Aash loved the afternoon even though he'd only been out of hospital a couple of weeks he made a huge effort to keep up.

"It was so lovely to see everyone there. Thank you from us, it means everything."

To order a wristband or to get involved with fundraising for Aash, visit the Facebook Page - Aash-Jai Quality of Life Fund or email shaileenaramoutar@yahoo.co.uk

Gareth's 2015 Aash-Jai Evans' story


A THANK YOU MESSAGE TO EVERYONE FROM AASH-JAI AND HIS FAMILY