Brighton Table Tennis Club founder in the running for major award

A Brighton table tennis club founder has been nominated for a National Lottery Award this year.
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Tim Holtam, from Brighton Table Tennis Club, has been shortlisted in the outstanding individual’s category of this year’s National Lottery Award for his tireless efforts in his community.

The awards are an annual celebration of the everyday individuals and organisations which do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding. Tim first moved to Brighton in 2005, but was shocked to find there was no youth club for the sport in which he had once been junior champion: table tennis. Determined to right the wrong, he set up a club of his own in a free room, with two worn out tables. 16 years on, the club is bigger than he could have ever imagined, with more than 1,500 members, drawn from all walks of life, pinging and ponging across 70 weekly sessions.

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But it’s much more than just a table tennis club. Tim is devoted to transforming the lives of his members and creating opportunities for everyone, so the club provides more than just a place to train, it’s also a source of identity, belonging and purpose, for those – like young refugees, former prisoners, pensioners, schoolchildren and people with learning difficulties – most in need of all three.

Tim Holtam founded the club 16 years ago. Photo: National Lottery.Tim Holtam founded the club 16 years ago. Photo: National Lottery.
Tim Holtam founded the club 16 years ago. Photo: National Lottery.

Tim’s club has produced a range of national champions and a Paralympic gold medallist, but it’s his work in prisons, schools and youth centres that has made the biggest difference. In 2016, the club became the UK’s first Club of Sanctuary in recognition of its work with refugees and asylum seekers. As a result, Tim and the team would go on to provide table tennis lessons to 80 unaccompanied refugee children from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Algeria and Vietnam.

Tim said: “It’s a real honour to be nominated for a National Lottery Award, and a bit of a shock if I’m honest! Sport can be used to engage people from all walks

of life, it can truly transform and enhance their world – bringing everyone together. That’s what we try to achieve every day at the club. It doesn’t matter where you come from or how old you are, the common ground is just to have fun and play table tennis.”