Batty about inclusivity
There is a tangible community ethos about Brighton Table Tennis Club (BTTC) (Registered Charity Number 1160103), which was co-founded by Brighton alumnus Tim Holtam (Graduate Teaching Programme 2011) in February 2007.
Tim started the club with fellow former international Table Tennis player, Harry McCarney, as they were keen to share their love of the sport with local disadvantaged young people in Brighton. The club has grown from its modest beginnings with two broken old tables to an umbrella organisation overseeing over 100 tables across the city, and over 1,000 people playing table tennis every week.
The club felt that table tennis could be used as a powerful tool in engaging young people and transforming lives. Over nine years they have shown this to be true. The club has a fantastic track record of working with young people and with charitable status being granted in January 2015, the club has big plans for development and expansion.
Ex-councillor and former mayor, Bill Randall, now a trustee at Brighton Table Tennis Club described it as: “One of the city’s brightest sporting lights. It helps people from many communities and all ages keep fit and well, and brings them together to offer mutual support and friendship.”
Tim proudly described the club’s progress and expansion: “We have a team in the Senior British League, eight teams in the Brighton League and many junior teams playing in various competitions.
“In September 2015 the club moved to an amazing new premises, the building that used to be the St John the Baptist primary school. The new club address is Brighton Table Tennis Club, The Fitzherbert Centre, 36 Upper Bedford Street, Kemptown, Brighton, BN2 1JP.”
Tim explained his inspiration for founding the club: “We want to prove that it is possible to combine grassroots and elite sport. My inspiration was Jon Kaufman at London Progress TTC in Willesden where I played as a teenager: the club was amazing and was the making of me. National Champions 10 years in a row in the British League Premier Division, with local kids benefiting from being involved full-time in the sport and club.
“Training to teach at the University of Brighton and then teaching Life Skills at Patcham High School for six years, gave me the skills to work with young people and also allowed me to access networks in education locally for the club to expand. This year we have run sessions in five secondary schools, 12 primary schools, all three City College campuses and the reputation of the club continues to get us more interest.”
Being a community-centric enterprise, Tim is rightly proud of its success and lists local involvement in it as a key highlight: “Our new venue in Kemptown has to be one of the greatest highlights. It has so much potential and we are grateful to Father Foley and St John the Baptist for giving us the key.”
Amongst its accolades, Brighton Table Tennis Club has won some impressive awards, including:
- 2016 Table Tennis England Equality Award
- 2016 First Club of Sanctuary in England
- 2016 Community Integration Award Winners
- 2015 Table Tennis England National Club of the Year.
Tim highlighted the club’s values which are:
- Community: The club has a strong ethos of inclusion and diversity which creates a friendly and vibrant community.
- Respect: Everyone at the Club is expected to have due regard for the feelings, wishes and rights of others.
- Solidarity: Our staff, volunteers and players work together with a sense of unity and common interest.
- Competition: It is important to provide opportunities for players to compete at a level that is right for them and we enable them to participate in local and national competitions as appropriate.
Building on its success, Tim harbours many ambitions for the club’s growth: “We aim to keep doing what we are doing and to get even more people from a wider range of marginalised groups in society playing table tennis. There are three BTTC initiatives that we are focusing our energies on and that have massive potential. These are Ping Pong 4 Peace, PingMaths and PingLish. Watch this space.
“We have just launched a fundraiser to get a BTTC minibus, which would be transformative to the club’s members and get lots of use. Please help us reach our goal of getting our young champions to the Tokyo Olympics!”
Keep up with Brighton Table Tennis Club on Twitter at @BCTTC1