Sussex cricket hero Jim Burroughs posthumously honoured with national award
For nearly 30 years, Billingshurst Cricket Club was Jim Burroughs’ life, writes Sam Morshead of The Cricketer.
After arriving in 1992, Jim quickly took on more and more responsibilities, including the chairmanship, the coaching of juniors sides, and the groundswork, as well as the captaincy of the Sunday XI.
But it was his commitment to bettering his West Sussex club, and the enthusiasm he dealt out to every member, which will remain in the hearts and minds of his clubmates for some time to come.
“He had a real passion about people and he wanted people to experience the best they possibly could at a cricket club,” Billingshurst chairman Jon Alexander said.
“Groundsman, coach, committee member, local councillor… there are a lot of roles he’s done.”
Jim, the inaugural winner of the LV= Insurance Club Hero award, played a critical part in the club’s move to a new ground, long held the role of chairman and only gave up the groundwork this year as he dealt with cancer following his diagnosis three years ago.
Despite that battle, he continued to do all he could to help Billingshurst through two season of Covid-affected cricket with the same grit, determination and enthusiasm which defined him.
And he was still a regular member of the crowd at Jubilee Fields, watching his son Mike in the club’s first team XI.
That resilience did not surprise the people of Billingshurst, as they had come to expect it of their much-loved stalwart.
“About 20 years ago, they were building new houses and Jim was at the forefront of meetings with the parish council, trying to get the best facilities he possibly could as part of the building work, if the club was going to have to move,” Alexander said.
“He had a determination and stubbornness which made sure he got what he wanted.
“That came to point when we need new mowers. He sat in a committee meeting with the council and said ‘I’m not leaving without a cheque because if you want it to look right for the community, we need a new mowers’.
“He walked away with that cheque and the mower was bought on the Friday.”
Jim passed away on August 12, after his nomination for the Pride of Cricket Awards had been made, and his family asked for his name to remain part of the public vote, which he won by a considerable margin.
“The reaction was one of real sadness from the club, because he was so personable,” said Alexander.
“To the youngest player in the colts who was just learning the game, he showed such a great passion for them and so much encouragement.”
Jim’s family asked for his hearse to do one final lap of the Billingshurst outfield after the funeral service in September, and the club has since renamed its ground in his honour: the Jim Burroughs Oval.
“That will be a lasting memory for anyone who goes there: whether it’s cricketers, dog walkers, fitness people or footballers,” Alexander said.
“I think that’s quite poignant for the future and for every member of Billingshurst past and present.”