Tony Rigby wins top Sports Award in Preston

Without Tony Rigby, there probably wouldn't be a Preston Table Tennis League in Preston, and certainly not one that offers quality coaching to our juniors - the life blood of our league.

Never underestimate the honour of receiving Preston's Sports Life Time Achievement Award, nor the debt we owe to one of the nicest men away from a table tennis table and one of the toughest on it.  Below is our nomination for Tony and here's a link to the Lancashire Evening Post's (courtesy of Bryan Walker) coverage of the event. An event at which our League also won a highly commended award for Club of the Year.

Tony's achievement is also featured on Table Tennis England's website here

Tony Rigby

Preston Table Tennis Club.

Deserving of the Award.

The name Tony Rigby is synonymous with the sport of Table Tennis in Preston.

Tony has been a member of the Preston Table Tennis Club since it was formed in 1998, and has been a member of the wider Preston Table Tennis Association since the mid-1960s.

Since he first broke into the Preston Youth Team in 1963, Tony has represented the Preston town/ city at all levels; in junior, senior and veteran teams for over 50 successive years! Indeed he continues to play for the Veterans team now. As part of the first senior Preston team to ever win the Lancashire and Cheshire League in 1974, he has represented Lancashire at both senior and veteran levels and at one time was among the top 10 players in Lancashire and ranked 25 nationally at Veterans level.

As a stated “Proud Prestonian”, Tony is one of the most successful competitors ever in the history of Preston TT, having previously won all of the Preston Table Tennis League events – the senior men’s title 6 times, the veterans title 9 times, the men’s doubles 14 times and the mixed doubles 3 times. His loyalty to Preston is matched by that to the Preston Astra TT team whom he first played for in 1962; he continues to play for them today!

As a qualified 2* coach, Tony has now been involved in coaching in the Preston area for over 40 years. Still Head Coach at Preston TT Club, he leads and mentors the coaching team and organises and manages all the coaching and practice sessions held at Preston’s purpose built TT Centre in Avenham. Whilst he particularly exhibits great empathy and understanding of the needs of younger players starting out in the sport and can communicate help and advice accordingly, he has always been available and amenable to give advice and support to all players of any standard.

He continues to serve as the coach and primary organiser for the successful Preston Junior Team, who have consistently won the national North West Junior League (in 9 out of the last 10 years) with the team again leading the way this year. Tony is very much regarded as a role model by the Preston Colts team and the Cadet Teams who again, over many years, have been very successful representing Preston in regional competitions.

Tony is highly valued as ‘the’ key member of our Association’s management team. He has been a member of the Association’s Executive Committee for over 30 years and currently still serves as both Vice Chairman and as Secretary for Matches, Player Registration and Competitions. He has been the primary organiser of the highly regarded Winter Leagues and Cup Competitions held in Preston arranging matches, venues and resolving issues arising and has also organised and run the annual Preston TT Championships for the last 30 years. Additionally he organised and ran the unique ‘every-20 years’ Preston TT Guild Trophy events in 1992 and 2012.

In September last year, when Preston Table Tennis successfully celebrated the 10th anniversary of the St Augustine’s Table Tennis Centre in Avenham, following its official opening by Sir Tom Finney back in 2005, it was Tony again who designed, organised and ran an excellent 10th Anniversary tournament open to all former players who have participated in the Preston Leagues during those 10 years.

In 2012 and 2104, Tony was also heavily involved in the staging of the recent pre-Olympic and pre-Commonwealth International TT events held at the Preston Guild Hall and UCLAN, involving Team England and Team Australia and he has served as a primary interface to the Preston Sports Development Team over many years supporting council initiatives and events.

Tony was absolutely integral to the team that originally established the TT Centre at Avenham back in 2005. Preston Table Tennis is extremely proud that since that time we have consistently offered community table tennis to all people regardless of age, race, ability and disability. Tony’s personal contribution as a player, coach and administrator has firstly been absolutely key in allowing all of this to happen and secondly, perhaps even more critically, he has contributed massively to secure the ongoing development and sustainment of TT in Preston.

In summary, a lifetime of contribution to table tennis in Preston, which should rightfully be recognised by this award.

Achievements

Tony had additional success with the Post Office team representing England in the European Civil Service championships and nationally was National Civil Service Veterans Singles champion for 3 years running in addition to winning men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles.

Tony was previously awarded Coach of the Year at the Preston Sports Awards event in 2007.

Tony is well-known in TT circles both across the North West and nationally; this was recognised formally by England Table Tennis with the award of their Maurice Goldstein Award for Services to Table Tennis.

Areas where difficulty has been overcome

Tony had to recover from triple bypass heart surgery in 2008; as a self-confessed ‘eternal optimist’, the extent of his contribution since then has been frankly remarkable.

Tony has had to continually balance the demands of playing with coaching; a difficult balance that he has consistently managed and maintained.

Number Benefiting

Tony has been an ever-present supporting the playing, coaching and administration activities at Preston Table Tennis over the last 50 years. Thousands of junior and senior players owe Tony their thanks for his immense contribution to their participation and enjoyment of their chosen sport.

As an aside, I have a comprehensive interview with Tony dating back to 2009 which charts his table tennis life. Unfortunately, Tony has banned me from ever publishing it on our YouTube Channel. However, if you'd like to watch it, have a quiet word with Tony and get him to agree to it. I can upload the interview and make it unlisted, so only people who visit our website will be able to watch it. 

Congratulations and thank you Tony, you're a well deserved winner and a true gentleman.

Author: via Preston Table Tennis League
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