OVER the summer months we have been asking Somerset's sports clubs to nominate their 'club heroes' - members who have contributed to the fight against coronavirus, or who have dedicated countless time to the promotion of sport in the area.

They don't come much more long-serving than Richard Dinwiddy, who joined Taunton Cricket Club in 1963 and has just turned 76 this month.

He recounts his time with Taunton CC as follows...

"I joined the club in 1963 after my cricket master and housemaster Brian Hastilow - father of Mike, who had captained the club - pointed me in the right direction!

"My first game for the club was for the 2nd XI against Yeovil 2nds, and I remember taking six wickets.

"I became a regular in the 1st XI the following year and played in that team until the late 1970s.

"I remember taking nine wickets against Sparkford in 1976 as my best haul.

"I played in the 2nd XI again for many more years before dropping to the 3rds as my appearances became more sporadic.

"I played my final game for the club in 1995, with my highest score for the club being 70 for the Sunday XI.

"After I received my heart transplant in 1996, I looked after my wife, who had MS, for the next nine years and was not involved with the club, although I still watched the odd game and retained my membership.

"When my wife went into a home in 2005, I was able to return to being an active member.

"I umpired the 3rds for a few years with odd games for both the 2nds and the As.

"Following a hip replacement, I was unable to umpire any more and turned to scoring, firstly for the 2nds and for the last four years for the 1st XI.

"I have been club treasurer three times at various points (including currently), was secretary for a few years and also chairman in 2012/13."

Dave Wilson, who himself is greatly respected in cricketing circles and captained Taunton's A XI for 25 years, pays tribute to Richard in saying: "On the field, Richard was a fearsome and very aggressive fast bowler, whereas he’s a gentle giant and a true gentleman off it.

"Since retirement from the field, he’s been a real stalwart off it, having served briefly as chairman and for many years treasurer - a post he still occupies.

"Despite major health problems, he is unfailingly cheerful and reliable.

"You won’t find anyone anywhere with an unkind word to say about Richard."

Current club chairman Melvyn Gale points out that Richard was too modest to mention that he played for Somerset 2nd XI for a while.

Gale added: "Richard epitomises everything that is good and successful about Taunton Cricket Club, from the moment I joined in 1987.

"I opened the bowling with his son Ian at the time for the A XI.

"Richard still scores all 1st XI games, including Baker Cup, Somerset Cup and pre-season friendlies.

"Moreover, while he had worrying health issues a couple of years back, once he felt better, he was out on a mower - being a proud member of 'Dad's Army' - before you could blink.

"He attends every committee meeting, is never late and always cheerful.

"Richard is never at ease praising himself and gets on with everyone; I haven't heard him lose his rag at any time.

"Richard remains key to Taunton CC and our future.

"If I can be half the man he is, I will have done incredibly well."