World’s oldest living cricketer opens £2m sports hall
The world’s oldest living Test cricketer proved she has plenty of game left in her as she officially opened a school sports centre in Norwich.
Eileen Ash celebrated her 107th birthday this year but that didn’t stop her joining in with PE lessons as she opened the new £2m sports hall at The Hewett Academy, named in her honour.
The hall is used by pupils from the academy, alongside those from Jane Austen College, Norwich, and other surrounding schools.
Mrs Ash said: “This is a great centre for the school, and for the whole of Norwich. I’m very honoured to have my name on it.
“This is better than anything at even private schools. It’s great to meet the children and see them enjoying it.”
After cutting a ribbon to officially open the centre, Mrs Ash joined in with catch and throwing practice with pupils from Bignold Primary School and netball lessons with pupils from Jane Austen.
A keen Yoga enthusiast, Mrs Ash also gave staff some impromptu tuition in some of her favourite poses.
Hewett Academy principal, Rebecca Handley Kirk, said: “We are delighted that Eileen agreed to open the centre. She is a remarkable woman, and a great inspiring figure for our students to emulate.”
Mrs Ash is the oldest living international cricketer, having debuted for England in June 1937 and playing seven Test matches over her 12-year career, playing under her maiden name Eileen Whelan and notching up two centuries.
She also worked for the civil service, and was seconded to MI6 during the Second World War.
Mrs Ash keeps herself active by playing bowls and doing Yoga.
The four-court sports centre supports a range of sports including netball, cricket, badminton, volleyball, trampolining, and basketball.
It is used jointly by pupils at the Hewett Academy and Jane Austen College, as well as being available for community use outside of school hours.
The centre was designed by Norwich-based practice LSI Architects and built by Kier Construction.
The company used pre-cut timbers prepared in Austria to minimise disruption on site and put up the building faster.