A FORMER first-class cricketer who has dedicated his whole life to the game admits he is bowled over to be awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Bill Higginson played a handful of games for Middlesex and Nottinghamshire in the 1960s before going on to immerse himself in the game off the field. This included a coaching stint in Kenya, being an umpire and a matchday announcer at Lord’s, before moving to Powys where he worked as a cricket development officer for Mid Wales.

But it is what he has done for disability cricket in the 18 years after retiring from his Powys post that has led to Bill hitting a knock that cleared the boundary fence.

He was involved with the British Association for Cricketers with Disabilities (BACD) from 1998 until last year, retiring as chairman with the legacy of the organisation transferred to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

“It came as a complete shock,” admitted Bill, 83, of his MBE.

“It’s very exciting of course but also very humbling. It’s an award with my name on it but for me it’s a shared award, it really should go to all the volunteers for disabled cricket over the years. It’s a nice reward for the hard work that everyone has done.”

Bill, who also served as mayor of Llandrindod Wells during his stay in Powys, now lives in Presteigne. And he paid tribute to one man in-particular for getting disabled cricket off the ground in Powys and Wales.

Bill added: “It was in 2001 when disability cricket kicked off. I was cricket development officer for Powys for five years and my contract finished when I turned 65.

“They needed a coach for the Welsh disability cricket squad and Simon Hickton – who was living in Llandrindod at the time – called me up and asked would I come to a training. He was a former Army man who left the service disabled and he got the ball rolling, none of it would be possible without him – he’s since moved to New Zealand and he was the first person I contacted when I heard the news about my MBE.

“When I started there were just three counties in the UK involved with disability cricket – now we have 32.”

Bill’s first introduction to the disabled side of the game was when he attended a training session at Christ College, in Brecon, but he was hooked immediately and soon became the Welsh disability team’s first coach and manager.

Things progressed nationally with two competitions created involving players with either physical or learning difficulties. A partnership was formed with the ECB and both physical and learning disability teams now have full squads playing against India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, South Africa, the Netherlands, Ireland and Scotland.

Last year the BACD received a special award at the ECB’s annual OSCA’s (Outstanding Services to Cricket Awards) ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground, where Bill had begun his career as a member of the groundstaff, in 1953.

Bill, and other award recipients from across the UK, had to keep their wonderful news secret after being informed in May, with the honours list revealed earlier this month. But his wife Liz had to keep the news secret for even longer, after a friend revealed to her he was nominating Bill for an MBE.

“My wife knew before I did, she kept it a secret for months,” said Bill.

“I had a letter in May asking us to confirm if I’d accept. How she kept it a secret before then is a mystery because we’re a very close family.”

Bill was a middle-order batsmen who played three games for Middlesex in 1960 and once for

Nottinghamshire in 1965. Before settling in Powys, he spent time in Kenya as the MCC coach to East Africa.

During his time in Llandrindod he was also president of the Rotary International and a founding member of the Llandrindod Wells Lions Club.