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Former Surrey and England seamer Jade Dernbach threw his support behind the Professional Cricketers’ Trust last weekend as they took centre stage at the Vitality Blast Finals Day.
For a third successive season, the Professional Cricketers’ Trust celebrated the biggest day in the county calendar, while highlighting the life-changing work of the charity at Edgbaston.
The Vitality Blast Finals Day saw several heart-breaking and heart-warming stories from the Trust told throughout the build-up and during the day on the big screens, Sky, and the BBC.
The Trust was created to support the health and wellbeing of PCA members who have entertained cricket supporters over the years for when they are in desperate need for help.
Several past and present players have spoken so openly on support they have received, including Yorkshire Vikings spinner Dom Bess and Hampshire Hawks seamer Chris Wood who featured in Finals Day.
More recently, former Somerset batter Arul Suppiah has revealed the torture of his eating disorder while former Yorkshire all-rounder Jamie Hood has spoken about living life to the full despite no mobility below his neck following a freak accident.
And Dernbach, who was part of the Trust’s activities off the pitch, got involved with some bowling demonstrations, highlighted the Trust’s 24-hour helpline as a crucial tool for players.
“It's not just necessarily from a financial point of view, it's just knowing that there's somebody on the phone if you need to pick up and have a conversation that you know, a familiar voice, familiar face,” the 36-year-old said.
“Because sometimes when you're retired, you haven't had the set-up or, or ready to retire as many players aren't.
“And you need to know that this is going to be someone who's got your back, who understands the position you find yourself in, is there for advice, and, and anything else you might need.”
One of the player stories highlighted on the day was that of former England player and now journalist Steve James sharing the harrowing story of the death of his daughter Bethan, aged just 21.
James and his family have been supported by the Professional Cricketers’ Trust with counselling as they come to terms with Bethan’s passing from sepsis in 2020.
The film was shown on Sky’s coverage and has already been viewed over 270,000 times on Twitter, with Dernbach recognising the importance of fellow former players speaking up and sharing their stories.
He added: “I think it's important to keep having these conversations as professional sportsmen and sportswomen.
“It's often expected of you to kind of just get on with your job, to provide a service, it is an entertainment industry after all, and sometimes you must put a brave face on in the moment.
“But to know that's not the case and there is an opportunity to speak up, to be supported and encouraged is the most important word.
“The encouragement to do so when you're not feeling yourself all the time is there and we're seeing some high-profile players who've done it in the very recent past.
“And I think that's only going to encourage more younger players now to understand and hopefully pick up the signs at an earlier stage before everything gets too much and they need to call and speak with the Trust. I think it's a case of can we educate people, and we can catch it earlier.”
The Professional Cricketers’ Trust provides vital support to past and present cricketers in England and Wales and their immediate families when in desperate need. The charity’s work is all encompassing, whether it be for unforeseen physical or mental needs. Vitality Blast Finals Day is supporting the players’ charity - to find out more about the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, visit professionalcricketerstrust.org