Portishead Table Tennis Club member, Dave Grounsell, has been given a lifetime membership award, the first in the club's history to honour his work.
After completing his first coaching course, in October 2014 Dave set up a weekly training session in a one-table venue on a Friday night in an attempt to encourage new players of all ages to try out table tennis.
This started with, initially, four new members coming along to practice.
In March 2015, Dave’s training sessions became so popular he had to move to a bigger venue at Gordano School’s sports hall, initially on a Monday night, meaning even more players of all standards could come along and practice.
This has increased to Portishead Table Tennis Club running three training sessions a week – Mondays, Fridays and Sundays – with Dave as the Level 2 coach. Each session now gets an average 20 players attending.
A veteran of the sport, Dave first started playing competitively in the Sittingbourne and District League in 1972, when he joined the Blue Lagoon Table Tennis Club.
He moved to Portishead in 1996 and started playing for the club. He has played every season since in various divisions of the Bristol and District League. He currently plays for the Portishead Destroyers team in the Bristol League Division 2.
After being presented with the lifetime membership Dave said: “I was truly honoured and humbled to be given an honorary life membership of the club.”
Portishead club general secretary, Steve Knight, was one of the first people attracted to Dave’s coaching sessions.
“He’s played a part in literally saving my life,” said Steve. “I had just been diagnosed with the triple whammy of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My doctor made it pretty clear that, if I didn’t change my lifestyle and get some exercise, I would be in big trouble.
“Table tennis seemed like one possible solution and Dave welcomed me to his coaching sessions, got me playing again after a break of more than 50 years – to the point where I now compete regularly in the Bristol League – and also became my good friend.
“That was four years ago. I am now five stones lighter and absolutely loving my new life. Dave helped make all that possible and I can’t thank him enough.
“It’s not just me, though. Dave’s coaching sessions have attracted all sorts of new people and many new youngsters, in particular, are now forming the backbone of the club as we field more sides than ever before.
“His award – the first in the club’s history – is very well deserved.”