Tim Holtam, Harry McCarney & Wen Wei Xu founded Brighton Table Tennis Club (BTTC) in February 2007 with two worn-out tables in the Brighton Youth Centre and the strong belief that table tennis can be used as a powerful tool in engaging people of all ages and transforming lives.
Today the club has its own centre with 10 tables in Kemptown and runs 100 tables across the city in parks, squares, schools, sheltered housing schemes, a centre for homeless people, sports centres and a psychiatric hospital. It works in two prisons outside the city.
More than 1,250 people play in the club’s weekly sessions. Their number includes people with learning disabilities, young people from the Brighton Travellers site, Looked After Children, people with physical disabilities, people from the LGBT community and young asylum seekers. The youngest player is 2. The oldest is 98. The club is the world’s first recognised Club of Sanctuary, for its work with refugees.
A registered charity, the club has brought more than £300,000 into the city to support youth and community work and create local jobs in times of austerity.
BTTC is also a centre of sporting excellence. It has two teams in the Senior British League, eight teams in the Brighton League and many Junior teams playing in various competitions. Its members include Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winners in the UK Down’s National Championship and a Gold medal winner at the 2017 World Championships for players with Down’s Syndrome.
Former City Mayor Bill Randall, a BTTC trustee, describes it as "One of the city's brightest sporting lights. It brings people from many communities and all ages the health and well-being benefits of playing sport and brings them together through mutual support and friendship.”