Portishead has been named as Table Tennis England’s Club of the Year.
The accolade – by far the biggest honour in the club’s history – was announced at a packed Table Tennis England Pride of Table Tennis Awards dinner in Leicester on March 30.
The club scooped the award after making huge strides forward with a number of member and community innovations over the last year.
Portishead Club Development Officer, Derek Connop, was also individually named as runner-up in the Volunteer of the Year award.
“As a club, we couldn’t be more excited about this award,” said Derek. “When we won the South West regional award earlier in the year we were delighted but, to be named as the top club in England, that takes things to a whole new level.
“When you see so many other fabulous clubs and meet brilliant people from all over the country who are doing such a wonderful job in safeguarding and promoting our sport, being honoured like this is, frankly, humbling.
“Although we have made huge strides in the last couple of years and we are proud to continue to promote and grow the sport in our local area, I believe that we have much much more to offer.”
The Portishead innovations that so impressed the judges included:
• Seven members attending courses to become Table Tennis England grade one coaches;
• The club launching regular Monday evening coaching sessions at a local youth centre;
• In partnership with Gordano School, setting up a regular after-school table tennis club attended by more than 30 youngsters;
• Establishing a 15-table regular club training night, which even attracts players from other clubs;
• Recording what the club believes is the best-ever member satisfaction score in a Table Tennis England national survey;
• Making history by competing in the British League – the UK’s premier club competition – for the first time in our 72-year history.
• Providing the local Bristol Table Tennis League with the most teams entered in both the winter and summer league competitions.
• Entering the Weston Table Tennis League in 2017-18 and doubling the entry in 2018-19.
• Entering three teams in the 2017-2018 Bristol Junior League, finishing first and second in Division 1;
• Entering two teams in the 2018-2019 National Junior League and two teams in the Bristol Junior League.
“This has been a real team performance,” said Derek. “We couldn’t have done any of this without establishing a very strong and well run committee, without the support and funding from Table Tennis England (the governing body of our sport), or without the commitment and participation of everyone associated with the club – the players, coaches, captains and the parents of our junior members.
“In addition to my role on club development and the usual chairman, secretary, treasurer etc, we have a welfare officer a junior player officer, a press officer, a league representative, and we have also just introduced a young ambassador (junior under-18) into the committee and written that post into the club constitution.
“We have the right people doing the right things and have created a very warm and open culture for our members and for anyone wishing to join in with what we do. This is just the start of what we can achieve.”