A life-long Bears fan has been honoured by the Prince of Wales for his dedicated community work during the Covid pandemic and contribution to youth cricket coaching.

Tariq Ali – who’s spent 20 years volunteering to help children in the player pathway system – received his MBE from the future king during a ceremony at Windsor Castle.

But he admitted being equally excited to meet members of the Bears squad after we invited him to Edgbaston to watch some of the team’s pre-season preparations!

Tariq’s son Ali got in touch to say his father was a big Bears fan and that it would make his day if Warwickshire could help him celebrate his MBE.

We were more than happy to help.

We invited Tariq – who runs the Tayaba Mosque youth club in Wolverhampton plus youth cricket sessions with Chance to Shine and All Stars – to an indoor nets session where he met the players and later looked around the stadium.

Son Ali said: “Dad has been involved in cricket for as long as he can remember. He’s devoted a lot of time to the sport and helped in the region of 2,000 youngsters participate in and enjoy cricket.

“To receive royal recognition for his work is incredible and for Warwickshire to help us mark the occasion with a stadium visit was lovely.”

The 54-year-old has spent two decades coaching from grass-root all the way to performance pathway at Staffordshire – the Bears’ minor counties affiliate club – and has captained one of the teams at Wolverhampton Cricket Club for 25 years.

And during the Covid-19 pandemic Tariq help set up rapid test centres in his home city of Wolverhampton. He added: “I first came to Edgbaston for a game back in 1987 for the England vs Pakistan test match. It was an amazing atmosphere and I’ve been hooked on the ground and Warwickshire ever since.

“I occasionally bring children from the youth club over to watch Blast games and we’ve got a few committed Bears’ cubs in our ranks now. It was amazing to meet the players and watch them training in the nets. I can’t wait to see them back out in the middle at Edgbaston next season.”

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