Former England captain and batsman Graham Gooch has kick-started the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s 50th Anniversary Legacy Appeal with a generous donation of £50,000.

The donation has been made from the Graham Gooch Foundation, which was set up by Gooch 15 years ago, and which operates under the umbrella of the Essex Cricket Foundation charity at the county he played for from 1973 to 1997.

Normally the Graham Gooch Foundation supports initiatives including the Essex Cricket Academy and sending young Essex players on overseas coaching and playing trips with England Test captain Alastair Cook and former England Test players James Foster and Ravi Bopara among those who have benefited from the funding.

But Gooch has now decided to support the work that the PCA and the PCA Benevolent Fund, supported by Royal London, do in helping past and present players and educating them about the dangers of addictive behaviour, including gambling.

“I am a PCA Ambassador and I have been for a number of years. I have great respect for what the PCA represent and do in terms of looking after present professional cricketers in our great game and ex-players who have fallen on hard times and generally promoting cricket and looking after people who have served the game well,” Gooch said.

“It will be the PCA’s 50th Anniversary in 2017 and I had the funds available. I wanted to support a good cause so I thought I would branch out and support the PCA and all the good work that they do.

“I particularly want to put an emphasis on linking my contribution to a specific activity and that is educating young cricketers about the dangers and worries of gambling addiction and trying to educate them at an early stage in their career.

“I am a great believer in what the PCA do helping all cricketers young and old through the PCA Benevolent Fund. We have heard some heart-rending stories about players who have fallen on hard times and I am very supportive of the help  they have received from the PCA.

“But I am very keen on educating young players about the dangers of gambling addiction before they go astray.

“It’s a real and present danger that people need to be aware of. In the internet and mobile phone world that we now live in, everything is so accessible which means that you don’t have to go into a shop to place a bet.”

David Leatherdale, PCA Executive, thanked Gooch for his generosity ahead of a busy year of fund-raising by the Association.

“Graham's donation is incredibly generous and shows the high regard in which the PCA’s work is held,” Leatherdale said.

 “Through our network of Personal Development Managers, transitioning players into and out of their cricketing careers, while supporting their personal and educational needs, is a key focus and Graham's amazing donation will help provide new and additional support to all our past and present professional cricketers.”

The PCA – originally the Cricketers’ Association – was formed in November 1967 after a meeting of visionaries, which included Fred Rumsey and the late Jack Bannister, and will reach its landmark Golden Jubilee in 2017.

The organisation has developed from humble beginnings into one that has led the way in player representation, Personal Development and Welfare, mental health awareness and extensive education programmes for anti-corruption and gambling addiction in sport.

To mark the 50th anniversary, the PCA aims to raise £250,000 for the PCA Benevolent Fund by encouraging all its 3,500 members – past and present professional cricketers in England and Wales – to donate an item of memorabilia or pledge a service that they can provide which will be auctioned throughout the Golden Jubilee year.