Chairman Robert Appleyard and his hard-working band of helpers at the Bath Cricket Festival are receiving an unexpected helping hand, from the non-cricketing nation of Spain.

Maria Mediavilla, a 30 year old economics graduate from Palacios de la Sierra, near Burgos in northern Spain, was on a language course in Bath when she decided to fill in her spare time doing something "typically English".

She went to the Volunteer Bureau and saw notice inviting volunteers to get involved with the Bath Cricket Festival.

Maria said: "I knew nothing about cricket, but I wanted to do something useful and to work with English people, so I thought that looks interesting, why not? I'll try it."

She contacted Michael Davis, a member of the festival organising committee, and within a few weeks she had been co-opted onto the committee and was using her Spanish flair and business skills to organise a mailing shot and help with a number of festival fringe events.

Among Maria's projects has been the eve of festival reception on Tuesday evening, June 3, at the Hot Bath Gallery with tours of the Thermae Bath Spa complex.

The festival itself begins the following day, Wednesday, June 4 on the Bath Recreation Ground when Somerset takes on Worcestershire in a four-day championship match and this will be followed by a one-day match between Somerset and Northamptonshire on Sunday June 8th.

During the festival one of Maria's tasks will be to ensure that corporate hospitality clients are happy with the facilities and services they have ordered.

Maria said: "Hopefully, I will also see more of the cricket."

Until she came to Bath Maria had never seen the game. Committee members took her to Taunton to see Somerset play one of the season's opening fixtures.

Michael Davis said: "We did our best to explain what was happening and why there were no goal posts. She had a great time, and so did we. I think the social side of the game was something she had never expected."

Maria said: "It is a very complicated game, with many rules, and we have nothing like this in Spain. The game stops for tea and lunch and goes on for days and is very relaxing."

Another aspect of English life that surprised Maria was the existence of so many voluntary organisations, all doing good works.

She said: "You can volunteer and take part, it's open to all. It's not like that in Spain. Here you can do something useful and have an experience and work with other people. You can get involved in marketing, fund-raising and many other things -- even cricket!"

Maria's language course ends in June, but she hopes to stay a little longer. She has already worked abroad, at Constance in Germany, after graduating and the experience fed her wanderlust. She heard so much about England that she made that her next destination and came to Bath because she heard it was a good centre for language courses.