AS A formidable batsman he represented the county with distinction for more than two decades.
Now cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott is hoping to use his off-field clout to life-saving effect as he begins a vital innings as an ambassador for one of Yorkshire’s most high-profile charities.
The former England man has accepted an invitation to become a patron for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) after helping to raise more than £1million for the charity in the last year.
“I’m delighted to have been asked,” he said. “It’s a marvellous charity, serving Yorkshire – our county – and I’ll do anything I can to help.”
Boycott, who played 108 times for his country, said he first became aware of the work of the air ambulance after he and his wife, Rachael, watched episodes of the BBC documentary series Helicopter Heroes. The charity receives no state funding but needs to raise £4.4million a year to keep its two helicopters operational.
Earlier this year Mr and Mrs Boycott held a lavish fundraising dinner in the garden of their home in Boston Spa, near Leeds, which raised about £35,000.
But, keen to do more to help, Boycott asked a friend of his with Government connections how he could acquire further funding.
He said: “He told me to write to the Chancellor, so I did.
“I didn’t really expect a reply – I thought it would get lost with all the other correspondence he gets. But four days later I had a phone call from his secretary asking me if I had a minute to speak to the Chancellor and he said he’d give £1million for the air ambulance.
“He came up to Nostell Priory in Wakefield to make the announcement he was very nice. He asked a lot of questions, took a real interest and was really approachable.
“They are over the moon because they have been trying to save money over the years, which is difficult because they have to raise such a lot and with this million they could order a new state of the art helicopter.
“I have had a few friends saying ‘will you write me a letter for me?’ – they’d all like a million! It’s just nice to know that you can get to the top people.”
Mrs Boycott said: “YAA need to raise £12,000 a day to keep the two helicopters in the air and a lot of their support currently comes from those they have helped, or a relative.
“But the truth is none of us knows when we, or a loved one, may have a life of death situation and need their assistance.”
Boycott follows in the footsteps of another Yorkshire cricket legend, Fred Trueman, as a patron of the charity.
The charity’s chairman Peter Sunderland, said: “We like to have people who have a high profile in the county who can help in an ambassadorial role and, as a Yorkshireman with a prominent international reputation, who better than Geoffrey Boycott to spread the word?
“After he contacted George Osborne on our behalf, the board of trustees agreed unanimously that we should ask him. We expected him to want to think about it, but he said yes straight away.
“It helps strengthen our relationship with Yorkshire people and Yorkshire businesses and are extremely delighted he accepted.”
The charity expects to take delivery of a new state-of-the art helicopter next year.
Boycott, meanwhile, will represent the charity at fundraising events and help to promote its interests on the regional and national stage.
But he said: “Whether they’d have made me a patron or not Rachael and I would still carry on trying to help because they are a fantastic cause and you never know when you might need their help.”