Cricket Rob Key and Derek Underwood at Beckenham sensory unit

England's Derek Underwood against India during the Third Test match in December 1981

England's Derek Underwood against India during the Third Test match in December 1981


Cricket legends bowled over students when they opened a top-of-the range special educational needs unit.

Kent's Geraint Jones during the County Championship match between Essex and Kent in May 2010

Ashes-winning Geraint Jones, Derek Underwood MBE and Kent County captain Rob Key, cut the ribbon at a sensory room for children at Riverside School in Beckenham yesterday (Thursday).

The new £23,000 facility was unveiled by Mr Underwood, known during his career as ‘Deadly’ for his spinning style, and will help 180 children aged four to 19 with sensory impairments.

Former Langley Park pupil Mr Key, an ex England Test match cricketer, said: “I wanted to get involved because this is my neck of the woods.

“Now that I’ve moved down to Canterbury I sometimes feel like the Bromley area of Kent is forgotten about.

Rob Key

“Hopefully this facility will give the children a chance to experience things that they wouldn’t get the chance to otherwise.

“I went with the Lord’s Taverners to the Marjorie McClure School in Chislehurst. It gives you a real personal sense of how much you take for granted.”

The new centre is part of a joint project between cricket charity The Lord’s Taverners and BT which will see £400,000 invested into 12 sensory rooms across the UK.

Chief executive of The Lord’s Taverners Matthew Patten said: “The Lord’s Taverners is dedicated to giving disadvantaged and disabled youngsters opportunities through sport and recreation. We are proud to support the staff, parents and young people of Riverside School.”

Evidence has shown that sensory rooms increase spatial awareness, concentration, relaxation and alertness.

They are especially effective for young people with autism or severe communication difficulties, helping calm their behaviour and make them more responsive.

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