HOWZAT for a great sporting end to the school year? Former first class Pakistani cricketer Umer Rashid is providing coaching for youngsters across Richmondshire until the end of term.

His visits include schools and clubs in the area as part of a £4,000 lottery-funded programme led by Richmondshire cricket development group.

The district council, a member of the group, is officially employing Mr Rashid for the project. He will call at secondary and primary schools, including Richmond School, St Francis Xavier, Wensleydale School, Risedale Community College and village primaries, including Brompton-on-Swale and Hawes.

The cricketer's career spans more than 20 years in England and Pakistan. "I am thoroughly enjoying working with the different schools. The children have been really enthusiastic and keen to learn, and even in a relatively short space of time they have improved some of their techniques," he said.

Hilary Conway, from the council's economic, cultural and leisure unit, said: "We are very lucky to have a former sports professional working in our schools. It gives the children the opportunity to develop new skills and may raise some aspirations for the future. We are also grateful to the volunteer members of the cricket development group who have worked so hard to make this initiative possible."

Funding comes under the umbrella of the lottery's community fund. Richmondshire District Council is the fourth highest local authority in the Yorkshire and Humberside region in terms of the amount per head of funding received. It also has the highest success rate for applications, with 47pc of its bids reaching fruition.

Advice on applying for community funding is available from Ms Conway, tel 01748 829100 ext 294.