Exwick Cricket Club have been recognised for going above and beyond to #RaiseTheGame and support communities by the ECB at the National Cricket Collective Awards.

The club have been named as one of three national winners in the Connecting Communities Award, sharing the top prize with North Petherton CC (Somerset) and Bewdley CC (Worcestershire).

"A few years ago we were in danger of folding and now
here we are winning a national award. It's huge for us."

Devon Cricket Foundation's Alex Jopling presents Simon Hukku with the National Connecting Communities Cricket Collective Award.

Exwick CC were crowned county Connecting Communities winners in the summer as a result of the work the club did, led by Simon Hukku and Kate Le Maux, helping the Foundation run winter sessions for individuals seeking asylum in Exeter and supporting a celebratory event on World Refugee Day.

"They were such good fun," recalls Simon. "We ended up going to every single one. They're such nice people that we just kept going back.

"When we got to the cricket season a lot of them were looking for clubs. It seemed like a natural fit for them to come and train with us and they've slotted right in."

Shakib, one of the participants in the winter outreach programme who has since joined the club, says he loves playing for Exwick CC: "Simon was really helpful when I was playing cricket [in the winter]. I came to Exwick and they're a really good team, I love it."

Simon Hukku and Kate Le Maux at the Devon Cricket Collective Awards at Somerset CCC.

Simon recalls that the new group of players integrated quickly, saying:

"They just fit in like they'd always been here. They fit in seamlessly and it made the whole thing much more community based. It was nice to be able to support them as well."

Simon is hoping that the national recognition will be beneficial both to the club and the asylum seekers themselves:

"To be recognised nationally is huge for Exwick. We came from very little, two years ago we were in danger of folding and now here we are winning a national award. It's huge for us.

"We hope we can use this to advance the asylum seekers' causes, for their claims to be granted. We also want to generate more interest around the club to develop it into a thriving success in the area and the facilities to make that possible."

World Refugee Day at Exwick CC.