A trailblazing cricket umpire is playing a leading role in his very own campaigning movie – with a helping hand from media students at Telford College.
John McIntear has been working on a documentary, promoting the fact that disability and mobility restrictions need not be a barrier to becoming a sports official.
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The cricket-loving former Royal Navy man was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2018, preventing him from standing for long periods, but was determined not to ‘call time’ on his recreational umpiring.
“Following diagnosis, I did not want to walk round the boundary for the rest of my life. I wanted to be out in the middle again,” he said.
John started a £12,000 fundraising appeal and GoFundMe page last year with support from the Royal British Legion. This enabled him to get his own powered wheelchair. In September last year he umpired his first match at Worfield Cricket Club.
“As far as I am aware, there is only one other person in the UK umpiring in a powered wheelchair,” said 63-year-old John, from Madeley. “It’s not publicised, so I want to show that it is possible.”
That’s where Telford College media students Andy Walker and Will Grigsby-Locke have come in, working with John to turn his story into a documentary and short film.
“Will and Andy are both disabled, so they are able to understand why I am trying to promote this cause,” said John.
“The project is to encourage charities to provide funding and support for mobility impaired individuals to officiate from a powered wheelchair in any sport, not just cricket.”
John has been in touch with politicians in the hope of raising a parliamentary debate about Government support in sports officiating for mobility impaired individuals through the soon to be launched, Sports Officiating from a Wheelchair (SOPW) project.
Telford MP Lucy Allan is among those championing his cause, and has hosted a debate at Westminster Hall on encouraging more disabled officials, referees and umpires into sport.
With the Birmingham Commonwealth Games on the horizon, John says he is determined that the campaign – and the film created by Telford College students – will encourage those who are mobility impaired can benefit from having the opportunity to officiate in any sport.
John said: “Disability is no bar to officiating”.