Rob Searle of Ping! Bournemouth is the 2016 Ping! Personality of the Year.

Rob was selected as the worthy winner of this award, which was introduced last year to recognise all the great volunteers that make Ping! successful, by the National Ping! team after he received the most ‘Likes’ and ‘Retweets’ on social media.

Keely Armitt, Adult Participation Manager at Table Tennis England and manager of the Ping! project said:

“Yet again this year we had some fantastic nominations for this award and it was really difficult to make a decision, but Rob’s story really stood out.

“I’ve seen Rob in action and he has a great way of engaging people from all walks of life and of all levels of ability. When we saw he had also received the most support on social media, it confirmed our decision and we were delighted to make the award to Rob.

“On behalf of everyone involved in the management of Ping! at Table Tennis England may I take this opportunity to thank all the fantastic volunteers involved in the project and congratulate Rob on his award.”

Georgie Messenger, Communications Officer at Active Dorset who managed the project in Bournemouth, nominated Rob.

She said:

“Rob is a local man who has been coaching at Merton TTC and supporting the Bournemouth league coaching for many years. He was always the first to put his name down when Ping! Bournemouth required volunteers and has been on-hand for lots of the events we have run with his positive attitude and love for the game really shining through.

“Rob has been excellent at giving some tips to beginners in the gardens, as well as spreading the word of Ping! and what the festival is all about.

“His enthusiasm for the game is very apparent and his influence on the festival has certainly made it a greater success, despite the far too often cheesy ‘Christmas cracker’ joke!

“Rob has recovered from heart disease and has three stents in his heart. This does not stop him playing and coaching and he is now working alongside other Merton TTC volunteers and TTE to set up a Ping! ‘play on’ opportunity for those in the local community who have also suffered from heart disease. The sessions start in October, largely due to Rob’s hard work.”