Playing table tennis has become the most popular activity at Kelmscott School courtesy of two donated outdoor table tennis tables and a workshop with GB Paralympian Ashley Thompson who visited the school on Friday March 23.

The sport has inspired the school’s 900 students and the new tables add extra playing time to the four indoor tables already at the school. This means more students can enjoy the sport and the long wait for tables is greatly reduced.

Table tennis is now incorporated in the school’s curriculum and the tables are in regular use during break times and after school. The new tables were delivered following a successful application to the Jack Petchey Table Tennis programme, in partnership with Table Tennis England, which offers donated tables and equipment to schools throughout London and Essex.

Table tennis Paralympian Ashley Thompson is a former pupil from Morpeth School in Bethnal Green, where he first played table tennis and immediately impressed coaches with his talent. He was called up by the GB Para Table Tennis Team and joined the GB Performance squad in 2009.

Ashley was selected for the Paralympic Inspiration Programme and since then he has won many titles and competed for the Great Britain team. He is currently ranked ninth in the world.

Ashley was born with Erbs palsy, which has affected the nerves in the right side of his body, primarily in his arm and shoulder. He is currently combining his table tennis career with studying sports coaching and analysis at London’s South Bank University. Ashley’s visit to the school was prompted by a teacher there who had taught him at Morpeth School.

Mark Smith, Assistant Head Teacher and PE Teacher at the Walthamstow School said: “These tables are a roaring success and we are pleased table tennis is proving so popular with our students. They consider it a safe and comfortable sport to play.

“All the tables are being well used and we can now offer inter school games and tournaments with our local adult education centre, the college and our local primary schools. Our wheelchair users are fans and we plan to run tailored clubs during school holidays.

“Having Ashley here has been a real bonus. He is passionate about table tennis and the students really enjoyed their session with him. You never know one day we might have our own champion to celebrate thanks to Jack Petchey and Tennis Table England.”

The School already benefits from the Jack Petchey Foundation and funding from the Achievement awards scheme. Competition opportunities included in the Jack Petchey/Table Tennis England programme are rolled out through Schools in Essex and London, via Team and Individual Championships, with progression to the grand finals. The Individual finals took place on Saturday April 9 at the SportsDock at University of East London.

Now in its ninth year, 1,600 tables have been donated to 350 Secondary Schools, Colleges and Youth Clubs in London and Essex. Over 5,884 students have played in competitions during the last year and over 40,000 school children have been directly impacted by the scheme since it started.

The Jack Petchey Foundation was established in 1999 to recognise positive contributions young people make to society and to support them in achieving their potential. It has invested over £100 million to a wide range of 2,000 youth initiatives across London and Essex.

If you would like to find out more about how your school can apply for the Jack Petchey Table Donation Scheme, please click here to complete the application form.

If you have any queries about the Jack Petchey Table Donation Scheme please contact Table Tennis England’s School Officer Keegan Barstow on 01908 208878 or email [email protected]