It was with great pleasure that Preston Table Tennis was able to nominate two of it's members for awards at this years prestigious 13th Annual GLL Preston Sports Awards held at Preston Guild Hall on 23 March 2018 and attended by over 250 athletes, volunteers and coaches.
The calibre of the nominees at this event is extremely high with nominations being made from clubs and sports throughout Preston in recognition of their athletes, coaches and volunteers. Sports taking part, included boxing, football, schools, colleges and social clubs, UCLAN, trampolining, BMX biking, table tennis, swimming, martial arts, athletics, bowling, hockey and lacrosse to name just a few.
The event was hosted by Granada TV's Paul Crone, with Olympian Lutalo Muhammed providing the dinner speech in which he discussed his rise from obscurity to bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics and silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Taekwando. Lutalo's message contained a strong reminder of what it takes to reach your potential in your chosen sport "your work rate must match your ambition". Ambition alone is not enough.
Geoff (PC) Pickles received a Highly Commended Award in the "Volunteer of the Year over 25" category.
For those that don't know, Geoff has for many years been our leagues Welfare Officer as well as helping out every Monday night at our coaching sessions. In addition, Geoff is our oldest playing member at errr, well, err, over 80! Sorry Geoff! How many other members can claim to have supported the league and helped our youngsters for so long?
Geoff also turns up every time our Preston Colts team play to support and help them. The Colts are a team made up of young children who are performing well at our coaching sessions and are ready for the step up in to league play in a controlled and safe environment. So far this season Thomas Borrow, Noah Chappell-Elgie, Max Donohue, Bethany Ellis, Lewis Harrison, Joe Johnson, Lewis Sampson and Cameron Wight have all benefited from playing their first competitive matches in Preston with the Colts. Many other youngsters have over the years, progressed through the Colts and in to other clubs and are now playing in our Premier and First Division. The Colts is an essential life line for our league and without the help and support of people like Geoff and Tony Rigby, many new young players would not be playing in our league now.
If you want to know more about the amount of time and energy Geoff invests in helping our league or how to play in the Preston Colts, why not have a chat with Geoff himself or Tony Rigby. Congratulations Geoff, well deserved recognition for you.
Toby Ellis, aged 12, also won an award, the Achievement/Performance of the Year Junior Male. This is the first time a Preston player has won this award. It's impossible to list all Toby's achievements over the past 12 months which are only possible with the support and help of his family, coaches, friends and sponsor. The amount of traveling Toby has to do to compete in all the events around the country is simply staggering as are the entry fees for all the events! From Stockton on Tees, down to Wolverhampton, Widnes, Blackpool and many other towns and cities. Add coaching, training, practising and playing either in Preston with Jacobaeus A or Morecambe with Trimpell Raptors and Toby is virtually spending every night of the week and most weekends either at Preston, Garstang's North West Training Academy, Morecambe or travelling around the country competing in Table Tennis England events. Add in the pressure of school work and it's a huge commitment Toby has put in to table tennis this year.
Toby is currently ranked 5 in England in the U13's, won his Lancashire Schools age group title in February 2018, won the North West Regional U13's qualification event in March 2018 to go on and represent the North West in the Table Tennis England Inter-Regionals, both of which Toby also did in 2017, has won many other events around the country and and been runner up in others often in the Cadet competitions which include children up to 15, the age category above Toby. Add in becoming Preston Premier Division Singles Champion in February 2018 and Preston Championships Cadet and Junior Champion in March 2018 and you have a year of fantastic achievement and progression. If Toby can afford the time and still has the energy and desire and can find the commitment to continue to improve, who knows what he can achieve in 2018/19!
If you want to know more about what it takes to achieve these things, why not speak to Toby himself or his mum who you will probably have seen at the centre on his match days looking stressed! It's a hard life for parents of talented athletes! Alternatively why not chat to his sister Bethany who's also England National U10 Champion and ranked 19 in England U13 girls. Another Ellis clan member with sights set high.
Congratulations to Toby, and to all those who continue to support and help develop Toby on his table tennis journey.