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Tributes pour in for late cricket ambassador Sted Wallen

RIP: Sted Wallen in 2014

TRIBUTES FROM across the globe are being paid to Sted Wallen, a highly respected ambassador for grassroots cricket, who died suddenly the day before he was due to host his 19th Annual Sports and Cultural Day in Birmingham.

The 57 year-old founder of the popular event held in honour of cricket icon Malcolm Marshall, was found dead at his home by his brother Terrence Wallen on Saturday August 26 after he became concerned that he had not heard from him in the run-up to the cricket day on Sunday.

An inquest has been opened to establish the cause of death before any funeral arrangements can be made.

His heartbroken brother Terrence told The Voice:

“We were determined to continue with our cricket day because I know that is what Sted would have wanted. We were very close, so I knew it was the right thing to do.

“When I found him at home, he was surrounded by papers for the event – he died doing what he loved doing most, organising events for his community. He was my brother, my father, my best friend, my mentor.”

Terrence added:


THE WAY WE WERE: Sted Wallen, left, with his brother Terrence, far right, giving an award to the late John Holcroft and his wife Pauline in 2011

“Sted was ‘The Man’ and our family has had a global response to news of his death. It’s been crazy – we’ve had calls from PJ Patterson’s Office in Jamaica, the Jamaican High Commission, councillors, ministers, plus all the cricketing fraternity such as Sir Viv Richards, who was Patron of our annual Malcolm Marshall day in Birmingham.

“Sted was so humble – it was always what he could do for others, rather than what he could get for himself. In death I am realising now just how loved he was. Grassroots community cricket was his passion and drive – and that will be his legacy.

“It was really hard to carry on with the day, but as assistant director of the event we’ve held for the past 19 years, I took pride in making sure we honoured him.”

Terrence added that it was a particularly hard for their 79-year-old mum Gloria for her to bury one of her sons. He said:

“Mum is the centre of our family and a great believer in God so we are standing strong.”

Born in Clarendon, Jamaica, Sted was the oldest of a family of eight siblings, one of six brothers and two sisters. He leaves three grown-up daughters Chantelle, Chanel and Alanna.

Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Carl Rice was present for a minute’s silence and later Dr. Beverly Lindsay, OBE, OD, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, paid tribute at the event where she has presented prizes to the winning team ever since it was launched in 1998. She later told The Voice:

“Sted was a special man and his qualities went far beyond his abilities as a sportsman – he managed to transcend communities and cultures not only here in the UK but across the globe. He founded the Malcolm Marshall memorial Cricket Cup, which became known as the Birmingham Annual Sports and Culture Day each Bank Holiday Sunday in August. His commitment, dedication and tenacity to deliver this event each year must be commended.

“Not only did he bring joy to people through his efforts, but he also sought to engage with both young and old, enriching their lives. My sincere condolences to his family. He will be sadly missed –RIP Sted.”

As Wallen himself described his annual event in 2014, he said:

“It’s the only event of its kind in the region that fuses sport, performing arts, cultural activities, live and recorded music from hip-hop, gospel and reggae, to trade stalls, while also providing a platform for talented young cricketers.

“We pride ourselves that every single person who attends the event will find something that will motivate, educate, entertain, or simply provide people with the chance to meet friends old and new.”

At the time Sir Viv Richards praised the event saying:

“We cannot afford to lose what is possibly one of the most embracing sports-driven events in the UK, which consistently promotes cultural diversity, while increasing participation in cricket and other sports.”

Wallen was also responsible for organising the City of Birmingham Olympic Legacy Tour – a cricket and culture tour supported by Warwickshire County Cricket Club and Birmingham City Council to create a lasting sporting legacy in Jamaica. This was part of the Olympic training camp agreement signed in Birmingham in 2009 when the Jamaican Track and Field Team chose the city as their pre-Olympic training camp before London 2012.

Simon Baddelely, a supporter of Handsworth Park, praised Wallen for being ‘a stalwart promoter’ since 2004 in trying to get Birmingham City Council to take action with developers on their promise of providing playing fields and a cricket pitch as part of a 106 planning agreement following the building of homes on the Victoria Jubilee Allotments. Baddeley said:

“It would be wonderful if these additional facilities could finally become a reality in honour of Sted who fought so hard to make them so. It would be a fitting memorial to have an annual tournament played in his honour as he lobbied so hard for more green space for his community.”

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