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Behind the scenes with Tanya and the Spitfire Sweethearts

Saturday 15th August 2015

Entertainment is the name of the game for the NatWest T20 Blast competition and the Kent team have certainly been providing plenty of great action as they are one step from Finals Day, writes Peter Burrowes.

But off the field too there has been top class entertainment for the spectators to enjoy from the Spitfire Sweethearts dancers, who have been an integral part of Kent’s T20 package for the past few seasons.

The Sweethearts are organised and trained by Tanya Nicholls, a qualified dance teacher who has worked for the county for 10 years and is currently PA to Chief Executive Jamie Clifford.

There are a pool of around 14 Sweethearts who have to go through an audition process before being accepted. Some are students whilst others have ordinary day jobs and they are put through their paces with a range of techniques including fitness, kick tactics and aerial lifts.

During Natwest T20 Blast matches they dance after a boundary is scored and throw free Spitfire balls into the crowd known as a Spitfire Super 6.

The Spitfire Sweethearts also catapult T-shirts to the fans during the T20 Blast breaks at the end of the eighth and sixteenth over.

Tanya works with marketing and promotions manager Abi Hiatt-Gipson to organise off the field entertainment during games whilst the players crash bang wallop on it, so far highly successfully as the team look to close in on a quarter final place with a win against Glamorgan and in the final game against Essex at Chelmsford next week.

Tanya Nicholls said: “Each county can do their own thing for off field entertainment. Kent is fairly unique in organising its activities in-house.

"The Sweethearts are really enthusiastic and enjoy the experience. They put in a lot of hours training for the role."

Tanya picks the music for them and choreographs the programme which has proved very popular with supporters.

Other off-field entertainment for T20 matches includes the Big Screen where supporters can see themselves on the Big Screen by tweeting pictures of themselves using #superkent or by entering the Grand in the Hand competition.

There is also the Guard of Honour for the teams when they enter the field of play provided by pupils from a variety of Kentish cricket clubs, the Spitfire Challenge involving an assault course where the winner receives their weight in Spitfire beer, and last but not least the opportunity to meet and have a selfie taken with Victa the mascot.

It is all in a day's work for Tanya who has worked in the Club Shop and in the Marketing department before taking on her present role.

“I love Kent Cricket and everything about it. Choreographing and working with the Spitfire Sweethearts is a great experience which I thoroughly enjoy and hope the Supporter’s enjoy it too, Long may it continue.” she said.