July 9, 2015 | Brenkley News
A drive aimed at getting more people in South East Northumberland to take up table tennis is set to gain momentum thanks to the purchase of six new tables by a community sports club.
Cramlington Table Tennis Club is already the largest club of its type in Northumberland and meets three times every week at the Cramlington Sporting Club for both social games and league matches.
The club’s focus is to maximise local participation in the sport, with players’ ages currently ranging from eight to 80 years old, and to give as many people as possible the chance to spend as much time as possible playing the game during the club’s sessions.
And this objective will now be easier for the club to achieve thanks to a £5,000 grant from The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, which has paid for the six new tables and the surrounds that go with them to stop balls bouncing into other players’ courts.
Cramlington Table Tennis Club was founded in 1995 by current chairman Alan Hedley, along with fellow local players Joe Swinburn, Peter Stafford and Les Waters, following Alan’s return to his native North East and after he’d played in similar community clubs elsewhere in the UK.
Players of all abilities are welcomed, and growing demand over the years has seen the club move to bigger and bigger venues around the area in order to meet demand.
Around a third of the club’s current members are junior players, with the same proportion falling into the veteran category, and it’s a demographic which Alan Hedley believes makes table tennis a great sport for every part of the community.
He says: “When I returned to the North East, there wasn’t anywhere for young people to go who just wanted to play table tennis and get some coaching, so we set the club up to rectify that situation and it’s just kept growing ever since.
“As well as being fun in itself, table tennis also helps players be more active, and can improve their health and well-being, and our aim is to get as many local people playing as possible, especially those at both ends of the age spectrum.
“We’re primarily funded through membership fees, but the cost of renting our playing space is quite high, and we regularly need to replenish our stocks of bats and balls, which doesn’t leave much available for capital purchases like this.
“The support we’ve had from The Banks Group has made a real difference to the facilities we’re able to offer, and will make it easier for us to both attract and retain new members in the future.”
The Banks Group employs over 200 people across the Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface coal mines near Cramlington, and is also the company behind the proposed Chapel View residential development in East Cramlington, which would be located on an eight hectare site to the south of the B1326 and the east of the A189, and which would entail 194 two-storey homes for families and first time buyers, as well as new areas of informal green space.
Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at The Banks Group, adds: “Cramlington Table Tennis Club has enjoyed sustained success over a 20-year period, and we hope our support makes a contribution to the club achieving even more in the future.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.