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75th Anniversary Dinner - Chairman's Speech

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Wotton House - 20th March 2010


It is my privilege as the Chairman of the Guildford Table Tennis Association to welcome the guests to our 75th Anniversary Dinner.


First of all I would like to extend a warm welcome to Her Worshipful, the Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Pauline Searle and her consort and husband Victor. I like the idea of having consort but I suppose that you have to first of all become a mayor to be accorded such an honour. Madam and Sir, you are very welcome.


It is good to welcome Alex and Val Murdoch. Alex is the Chairman of the ETTA and the VETTS and in his spare time he causes mayhem on the table throughout Hertfordshire … but you don't have to worry as he is currently injured but watch out for Val aty the tournament tomorrow! Alex and Val, welcome.


Mick Kercher is the President of the Surrey Table Tennis Association and has been a highly respected coach for many years. So long in fact that he was a coach when I was a junior which must have been about 20 years ago!!! Mick you are always welcome at Guildford events.


Players don’t get much better than John Hilton. In 1980 he travelled to Switzerland to take part in the European Championships as a 1000-1 outsider. He had recently mastered the use of the new, combination bat, and against all the odds he triumphed by beating Gergely, Secretin and then the Czech,  Josef Dvoracek three straight in the final. He still remains a formidable player with many veteran championships to his credit.


What can we say about the legendary Connie Warren of Surrey and England. I have known Connie for nearly forty years when he ran that hotbed of table tennis talent at the Larkhall Club in Stockwell. I then became a team mate and more inportantly a good friend. Although he was always so much better than us he always took time to help and continues to do the same right up to this day…. It is also nice to see his Diane here as well. I first played against her in 1966, she  soon became a successful county player, and in Courmeyer in  2003, whilst playing with Sandra Ryder she became the European over 50s Veterans Doubles Champion.


We had hoped to welcome to Nick Jarvis the former senior and junior number one but unfortunately he is sick but it is good to see our very own Howard Sisters. Linda Jarvis is a former European junior champion and in 1975, playing with Jill Parker she won the European doubles championship. Her sister, Sue Henderson, also played for Surrey and England and won the Commonwealth ladies doubles. They are both honoured vice presidents of the Association.


We can only look in wonder at the achievements of these special guests.


The League has been very happy to be associated with a number of overseas trips. The invite from Anhausen, near Augburg, always coincided with the local beer festival and needless to say the quality of play on the Sunday was never as good as the previous day. Let’s hope that we can get our own back tonight. We also welcome Manuel and Martin from the Deggingen club in Germany. Ken Quirk and the Bat and Ball Club have been travelling to the Channel Islands for forty years and they have always made players from the Association very welcome. It is good to see our colleagues here and also to welcome our friends from Jersey and Guernsey. Regrettably some of our overseas opponents have not been able to come but we have received special messages from Serge Cattez from Merville, Emil Emecz from Heviz in Hungary and David Pace from Malta.


It is also really good to see so many former players and earlier I had the privilege of saying hello to Eric Grabiec, ten times Guildford doubles champion – you are all welcome.


I would like to take this opportunity of thanking my Committee for making this whole event happen. James Sellen for the photographs, Maria Taylor-Woodward, our venerable President, Jack Harrington, Tony Morse, Trevor Spraggs, Graham Watts and John Diggens. As many of you know John has spent many hours updating Ted Simkins’s history of the Association and I am sure that he will be happy to sell you a copy. As a mark of our appreciation we have asked the St. Edward Brotherhood in Guildford to make a special book cover from goat skin and embossed in 24 carat gold. I see that John has exchanged his beanie for a dinner jacket so would you please come to the table and I would ask the Mayor to present you with our gift.


There are many people who make large contributions towards the running of the Association. One of our unsung heroes is Secretary and MC, Dave Brown. His hard work on behalf of league table tennis has been recognised by the Surrey Table Tennis Association who has awarded him the Trevor Channing Trophy. Can I ask Mick Kercher to present this well deserved award to Dave.


Table tennis is perceived as a dying sport and I know that like me, Alex is passionate about reversing this process. Here in Guildford we are proud to have one of the strongest leagues in the south of England and our recent successes in the Wilmott Cup, Bromfield Cup and Alec Brook Trophies are testament to this. We have maintained five divisions but there is much more work to be done. We are striving towards clubmark and our coaching officer, Tony Laws, and his team are working hard to expand the coaching section at Christ’s College, thus introducing young players to our game, and in this respect I am looking forward to starting a feeder division to lessen the jump from novice to league player. Our  guest of honour, the Mayor of Guildford, is also a great believer in youth and I know is pleased to see the work we are doing.We are participating in the Playground to Podium scheme and are planning to host and enter table tennis into the Surrey Youth Games in 2011. We have started early dialogue with Guildford City Football Club who are hoping to establish a sporting complex at the Slyfield Development which would incorporate table tennis and boxing. Exciting times.


That’s enough from me so could I ask all our members to raise a glass of welcome to all our honoured guests.