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Christmas comes early for Barlow with PCA Benevolent Fund Support

Graham Barlow, the former Middlesex and England batsman, is proof that it does not matter how long you have been retired or where you are living in the world, the PCA Benevolent Fund is always there to help.

Barlow, 66, retired from county cricket 30 years ago and has since lived in South Africa and New Zealand where he has worked as a teacher.

Barlow is currently living in Whangarei on New Zealand’s North Island where he teaches at a local school. Barlow was told earlier this year that he needed major hip surgery but was told by surgeons that he was a non-urgent case even though his condition was complicated by diabetes.

Barlow and his wife, Rose, considered taking out a second mortgage to fund the bill they faced for opting to have the operation done privately until Lance Hamilton, the general manager of Northern Districts Cricket, heard of Barlow’s plight.

Hamilton spoke to Heath Mills, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association who immediately contacted Jason Ratcliffe, the Assistant Chief Executive of the PCA.

Although Barlow had lost contact with the PCA in the time he had lived abroad, the PCA Benevolent Fund, which is generously supported by Royal London, agreed to fund surgery.

“I was blown away when Lance Hamilton and Heath Mills got in touch with me and then Jason Ratcliffe. We have quite a few friends here who give me the odd call to see how I’m doing but I had two calls from Jason Ratcliffe before I had the op, one the night before,  and since then he has texted me every day to see how I’m doing. There is so much consideration there that needs acknowledging,” Barlow said.

“When Jason said the PCA Benevolent Fund would look to sort the balance out for my operation, Rose and I were absolutely blown away.

“I had been pretty depressed, I was pretty down about things. I couldn’t do my job properly, I couldn’t teach properly, I was in a lot of pain and if I wasn’t in pain I was pretty spaced out.

“For us it’s like having light again and that’s is from the PCA. Am I grateful? Yes, unbelievably grateful. We both are because it has given everything to us.

“I am out of the system now but Lance Hamilton said: you have played 260 games of first-class cricket, you’ve played for your country. It’s in the book.

“You forget about that legacy and that part of your life which was magic. This is just like a Christmas present in a way. When you finish playing you become independent, you do your own thing and go into different areas.

“But to be looked after by the PCA in this way, you feel as though you have actually won the lottery. You are benefiting from something that isn’t part of what you are now but which is very much part of what you were.”

Barlow, who played three Tests and six One Day Internationals between 1976 and 1977, coached at Haileybury College after he left Middlesex then had spells in charge of Eastern Province in South Africa and Central Districts in New Zealand.

The Benevolent Fund is part of the PCA’s commitment to helping current and former players and their dependants in times of hardship and upheaval or to readjust to the world beyond the game.

The Fund also supports players and their dependants who might be in need of a helping hand with medical advice, a much-needed operation or those who require specialist advice, care or assistance.

Major fund-raising initiatives for the PCA Benevolent Fund include an annual golf day at Woburn in Buckinghamshire, which will take place this year on Thursday October 6, the PCA 50th Anniversary Legacy Appeal which will run throughout 2017, a major auction at the NatWest PCA Awards and Big Bike Ride 3, in partnership with the Tom Maynard Trust, which will take place in October 2017 on a challenging route from Birmingham to Cardiff.