Whanganui cricketing stalwart Dave Berry has been given national recognition for his tireless support of the game in his hometown.
New Zealand Cricket has awarded Berry the Outstanding Contribution to Coaching trophy in its 2015/2016 Community Cricket Awards.
The seven awards rolled out this year are a national thank you to volunteers and development staff who have put endless time and commitment into improving the game within their community.
Cricket Wanganui chief Dilan Raj said Berry was a worthy recipient, but noted that Berry's wife, Beth, should also bask in the national honour given the time she had spent in support of the game in the River City.
"This national honour is just reward for the work Dave has put into the game here in his hometown, although his wife Beth should share the award," Raj said yesterday.
"The Berrys are a team that work so well together, Dave with his coaching and Beth with all her running around for others, especially making sure kids from some of the lower decile schools get to and from games.
"Dave is a Level 3 coach and they are a rare breed. We do have three in Whanganui and he is one of them and his time, knowledge and expertise is welcomed and needed," Raj said.
He said it was people like Berry that kept the game alive.
"He has been coaching for over 30 years and is a former Hawke Cup player himself. He is also a former CD A coach and has spent the majority of the 30 years coaching community cricket at all levels.
"He is still actively involved coaching boys' 1st XIs and it is people like Dave who are the mentors for our youth," Raj said.
Putting his usual modesty aside, Berry accepted the award on behalf of his wife and all the coaches who had given support.
"And there's been a few," Berry said yesterday.
In his playing days in the 1970s, Berry was a top order batsman of some note and a member of the the then all-conquering Wanganui Cricket Club, the oldest club in New Zealand at the time. He also coached during those early days, including taking charge of the Wanganui U16 side that competed in the first North Island age group tournament.
"We won that and then again the following year from memory. I was then put in charge of the national Under-18 team for five or six years."
Berry said he still gets a buzz out of cricket and especially coaching.
"I think coaching made me a better player back in the day and even today it's great to see the smile on kids' faces when they start to achieve."
Berry's love of the sport and batting skills has rubbed off on at least one of his own children.
His youngest son Fraser scored 109 not out for his Sydney club side on the opening day of the season just last Saturday.