Congratulations to our Junior Skills Co-ordinator and Life Member Mark Benefield who recently received recognition for his 18 years of voluntary work for the Ellerslie Cricket Club. He was the recipient of a NZ Local Hero of the Year Award presented to him at a ceremony at the Ellerslie Events Centre last week. His achievements are listed below.
Well done Mark – thoroughly deserved!
MARK BENEFIELD has been an Ellerslie Cricket Club member for two decades, serving voluntarily on the Committee for ten years including five years as President and three years as Junior Club Chairman.
Deserving of particular recognition are his voluntary contributions as the Club’s Junior Skills Co-Ordinator over the last 18 years. Every Friday night throughout summer, Mark can be seen with bat and ball in hand, coaching and encouraging 5 to 7 year old boys and girls at the Club.
It takes a special type of person to capture the hearts and minds of children this young, particularly on a Friday night after a long week at school, but Mark has the ability to bring out the best in them. Within a few weeks of the season’s commencement, Mark knows every child’s name and engages with them all, making every child feel special – he is genuinely interested in their progress and is forever encouraging them.
He also runs three awards ceremonies during the season for the children and gives up his time to co-ordinate and walk with the Cricket Club’s annual Ellerslie Santa Parade contingent. For all these services, he was inducted as a Life Member in 2009.
While Mark has devoted a considerable amount of his time to the Club, he has also selflessly served the community as a policeman for twenty seven years, currently holding the rank of Detective Inspector. In this role Mark has headed up high-profile investigations on matters of great public interest.
This commitment to public service and community spirit has enriched the lives and inspired many hundreds of children. Mark’s greatest satisfaction is seeing Ellerslie Nursery Cricket players progressing through the grades to play senior and representative cricket with the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ and the Club motto ‘By Skill, By Valour’ entrenched in their values.
Mark is well known in the Ellerslie community and is often seen chatting with locals when he walks through the town centre. Signifying both the Ellerslie community’s affection for Mark and why he should be honoured with a NZ Local Hero Award are the touching words of a grateful parent:
“Our son has certain Asperger traits. The chaos of a cricket field should cause him constant anxiety. However, it does not, and this is because of Mark Benefield. Mark strides the cricket sessions with a gruff veneer, no-nonsense approach and a visible passion, which pulls our son in and focuses him to the point where everything else fades away – even his anxiety and fears. Only Mark, his helpers and the cricket at hand exist. Our son shines at cricket and has grown as a person because Mark gives his free time, enthusiasm and dedication to help enrich the lives of the children and families of the Ellerslie Cricket Club.”