Opening Up Cricket
1224. Mark Boyns
Mark Boyns, from Liverpool, founded ‘Opening Up Cricket’ to promote mental wellbeing in the cricket community in memory of his friend Alex Miller, who died by suicide in December 2012 aged 23.
They had both played cricket together at their local club but also bonded over their shared experiences of depression. Mark realised that mental wellbeing was not widely spoken about within the cricket community, despite the sport’s emphasis on mentality. Launched in 2014, ‘Opening Up Cricket’ actively promotes mental wellbeing by running mental fitness sessions at clubs across the country, and providing workshops to coaches on embedding mental wellbeing in performance. Mark has also pushed the online campaign #notweaktospeak to encourage people to discuss mental health, which includes running a regular podcast and magazine series with leading cricketers, and sharing the hashtag through branded stickers on cricket equipment. This award coincides with the culmination of the Cricket World Cup.
In a personal letter to Mark, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“From your love of playing cricket and your dedication to recognising the value of mental wellbeing in sport, you are encouraging hundreds of other people in clubs across the country to speak out about their mental health. Your charitable work through ‘Opening Up Cricket’ is a truly fitting tribute to the memory of your friend Alex and is making a real difference in tackling the stigma associated with talking about mental ill health.”
“It has been a lovely surprise to have been given a Points of Light award. The process of running Opening Up Cricket has been full of challenges but having the chance to speak to people directly about positive mental health is something I relish. I encourage anyone reading to consider mental health as something that is for everyone and the more we consider it as such, the more we can move past the reactive approaches that have previously defined the topic.”