1066 Community Award - Super Senior
Roger Gillett has received the 1066 Community Award in the Super Senior Category. For those who know Roger they will know of his lifetime commitment to several areas of interests in Bexhill. His nomination included running Bexhillians Table Tennis Club for 59 years as well as many other table tennis related activities which are listed below. Roger is also a Life Member and officer of Bexhill 100 Club and Bexhill Polegrove Bowling Club.
The award was presented by the Mayor of Hastings, Judy Rogers, who also happens to be Table Tennis England’s Safeguarding and Ethics Manager.
Roger started playing table tennis when he was 11 years old in the Scouts and moved on to playing at the Church Youth Club. Although only young he had his eye on a certain young lady, Iris Gaston, and when she moved to Bexhillians Table Tennis Club to be coached, Roger followed. He was then about 15 or 16 years old. A wise move for both as Iris went on to become Sussex County Junior Number 1 and Roger went on to marry Iris, to whom he still married.
Roger started playing in the Bexhill League when he was 17 but had a break when he was in the forces doing his National Service. When he came out he returned to the club and when the club coach emigrated Roger took over that role. He qualified as a 1 star coach and his knowledge, skill and gentle manner have helped many players young and old. Roger’s philosophy with coaching is that a player should gain experience and advice from more than one coach to maximise their knowledge and to learn to think for themselves. He has been involved with coaching many players to a high level in Sussex, many reaching the county first team including his son, Graham. Perhaps the highest achievers were the three Moore siblings, Adrian, Stephen and Teresa (now Teresa Bennett mother to Jack, Josh and Joelle).
Adrian and Teresa were both England Junior Internationals, Adrian was also an England Schools international and Teresa represented GB at the World Student Games. At the Senior National Championships in the Mixed Doubles Adrian was Runner-up x 1, Semi-Finalist x 1, Quarter-Finalist x 3. Stephen reached the Semi-Finals in the Mixed Doubles. The Men’s Doubles saw Adrian and Stephen reach the Quarter-Finals. Teresa too reached the Quarter-Finals in the Mixed Doubles. All three were in the Junior Top 10.
However, Roger was not only involved in coaching; he also became involved in the administrative side of the game. He joined the Hastings & District Table Tennis Association and Sussex County Table Tennis Associations in 1957 and was on both committees for over 50 years, taking on various roles. It was necessary for the club and league to have representation so Roger was the one who undertook that task to the benefit of both committees. At county level Roger was on the Selection Committee for over 30 years and also ran the Sussex Closed Tournament for approximately 25 years. He is a Life Member of the county.
Other honours Roger has received are the ETTA Maurice Goldstein Merit Award, Vice-President of Hastings League and recently the 1066 Community Super Senior Award, 2016.
At Local League level Roger’s immense knowledge and wisdom means that whenever he speaks he is listened to, he is well respected and an acknowledgement of this is his three terms as President, more than any other person in the league. Again Roger’s commitment is shown in his organisation of tournaments, particularly the Hastings Veterans Closed which he ran from its inception until three years ago.
Roger has also run Bexhillians Table Tennis Club for 59 years, again from 1957. He is still ever present on match nights, still puts the tables up and clears away at the end of the evening and offers useful advice on the playing front and at 83 years old still plays.
Hastings being in the location it is has strong links with France, 1066 and all that! Roger was involved with the table tennis exchange with Caen in Normandy for over ten years and then went on to be involved with the multi-sport Anglo-French tournaments when Hastings was linked with Bethune, not only helping organise the exchange but helping run tournaments to raise funds for the exchange visits. A silversmith by trade Roger made a most impressive silver Norman helmet for the winners of the Caen/Hastings events which is now somewhere in Normandy.
As well as all his other table tennis commitments, for the last five years Roger has helped coach a group of young people who visit the club every Thursday with their carers. They have varying mental disabilities and are looked after in a home as it is not possible for them to be looked after by their families. Endlessly patient these young people benefit enormously from their time at the Bexhill club.
A lifetime dedicated to table tennis Roger is the heart of Bexhillians Table Tennis Club.
Congratulations on your award, Roger, from all at Bexhillians Table Tennis Club and Hastings and District Table Tennis League.
6th November 2016
NB Photographs taken at Bexhillians Table Tennis Club by Malcolm Glover.