Billy Cookson: Campaign to help Leeds Beckett University student cricketer

Billy Cookson
Billy Cookson
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Cricketing communities have rallied in support of a young player who suffered devastating injuries on a dream trip to Australia.

Billy Cookson from Wiltshire, a student at Leeds Beckett University who played for its team, was spending a winter abroad as an overseas cricketer for Kyabram Cricket Club, north of Melbourne. On October 26, on his first day in a job driving for the club, he was involved in a head-on crash with a bus.

The 23-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries and was put in an induced coma after undergoing surgery, but is now beginning to make progress.

He faces months in hospital as he recovers, and the cricketing community has launched a crowdfunding campaign on JustGiving, called Boosting Billy, to support his family. In the first few days, it has raised over £4,000 from 150 donations.

“He’s a hugely talented player,” said his former coach at Leeds Beckett University, Andy Laws who set up the campaign.

“At the moment, we don’t know if he will be able to play again. We wanted to provide some form of financial support, if we could, towards flights and costs for family.

“We’ve raised £4,000 in the first four days, which is just amazing.”

Mr Cookson, who lived in Headingley before going to Australia, played for the university.

The cricketing community is famous for its generosity, said Mr Laws, and the campaign has seen social media support from cricketing legends including England and Australian captains and players Jason Gillespie, Darren Lehmann, Alec Stewart, Eoin Morgan, and Phil Tuffnell.

“Many young cricketers dream of the opportunity to travel overseas to play for clubs and experience a new culture on the other side of the world,” added Mr Laws. “Many of us take for granted enjoying our cricket over many years in good health. Billy faces not having that opportunity again with the injuries he has sustained.”