“AN amazing trip of a lifetime” is how Nowra father and son Vaughan and Ben Macdonald describe their trip to Lords to see the second Ashes test as part of their prize from the OPSM Stare Down competition.
Mr Macdonald won the competition, staged during the Sydney test against Sri Lanka, and walked away with airfares, accommodation and two tickets to attend each day of the second test of the Ashes series at Lords.
Contestants had to sit opposite each other and simply stare into each other’s eyes.
On hearing the Macdonalds were a family of six OPSM provided them all with airfares and accommodation.
For cricket-mad Ben, getting to Lords was truly memorable.
“It was magic,” he said.
“The result of the actual cricket probably wasn’t what we were after but it was great to be at Lords and witness a test match.”
He said another highlight was meeting legendary Australian keeper Adam Gilchrist at a function the night before the test began.
“Meeting Gilly was pretty cool,” he said.
Mr Macdonald said it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.
“To see the Aussies try to win the Ashes back at Lords of all places was amazing,” he said.
“There was a full house for all four days that the test lasted and there were a lot of Aussies in the crowd.
“There were a number of Aussie tour groups over there who all really got into the spirit of things.”
Mr Macdonald managed to catch up with a former friend from Parkes, who was on a tour with Merv Hughes and Kerry O’Keeffe.
“We had great weather, heatwave conditions for England in fact, it was 30 degrees,” he said.
“For the English crowds it was a heatwave, for us Aussies it was perfect.”
As well as witnessing the test, Vaughan and Ben were also able to take in a number of the activities staged each day on the adjacent nursery ground and also toured the legendary Lords Museum.
“Seeing the actual Ashes urn was incredible,” Mr Macdonald said.
Ben also learned about one of Merv Hughes’s big Ashes tours and to see him in the flesh as part of a tour group later in the day crowned the experience.
The pair were also guests at a Cricket Australian Travel Office function, hosted by former English cricketer David Lloyd, which included interviews with former English paceman Darren Gough and Aussie wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist and Cricket Australia high performance manager and former Wallaby Pat Howard.
“I played schoolboy cricket with and against Gilly, so it was nice to be able to catch up and introduce Ben to him,” Mr Macdonald said.
While Vaughan and Ben had the chance to take it all in at Lords, mother Marnie with Josh, Abbie and Will enjoyed the sightseeing in and around London.
The family was there the afternoon Prince George was born.
“We had all been to musicals and were coming home and the big British Telecom Tower in the middle of London was simply flashing ‘It’s a boy!’” Mr Macdonald said.
The family completed their UK adventure with a few days in Scotland, exploring the country the Macdonald clan hailed from.