Merton Heart Club was set up by Merton Table Tennis Club Coach Rob Searle in October 2016 following Bournemouth’s Ping! summer festival. Rob had volunteered for a number of events at Ping! and wanted to provide a new opportunity for people to play on after, especially people who were suffering with or had heart conditions. With this in mind the following aims and objectives for the project were made…


Aim of Merton Heart TTC

To provide patients recovering from heart disease in the Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch areas, the opportunity to take up table tennis as a social and gentle activity sport, to supplement their regular cardio fitness regime.


  1. To provide one hours gentle ping pong a week, for the patient and their “gym buddy.
  2. To provide appropriate help in learning the sport.
  3. To provide a safe, accessible location, and to provide safe table tennis equipment.
  4. To provide a facility with first aid box, toilets, refreshments and a relaxing area.
  5. To run the activity according to TTE guideline.
  6. To have access to an in house defibrillator.
  7. To have the activity eventually self-funding at a reasonable costs to the participants.


Rob, who has a pacemaker and 3 stents in his heart himself, believed that table tennis could supplement fellow heart disease sufferers regular cardio fitness regime. With a clear plan and aims for the project set out, the club has gone from strength to strength and now has 8 regular members with this number growing every week. The ‘buddy’ scheme allows participants who are not so confident to bring a friend or family member to the session which has given some people the confidence required to take the step of contemplating to attending the club. Participants are encouraged to take part at their own speed and each session provides players with a tea and biscuits break and a further chance to socialise.

The project has also encouraged other community groups to raise funds and come together to purchase a defibrillator for St James’s Institute, the venue of Merton Table Tennis Club. For his efforts with ping! and continued commitment to provide table tennis to his community, Rob (pictured below) was awarded the Ping! Personality of the Year Award and has been invited to the PG Mutual Nationals Championships. Rob has been supported by Bournemouth and District League Secretary by Gordon White who has received his Pride of Table Tennis Awards Club Volunteer of the Year award.