Development officer Derek is delighted to pick up Pride of Table Tennis volunteer prize

Derek Connop (right) receives his award from South West Region chairman Jos Kelly at Gordano School

Derek Connop (right) receives his award from South West Region chairman Jos Kelly at Gordano School - Credit: Archant

Portishead Table Tennis Club’s development officer Derek Connop has been nabed as the South West’s volunteer of the year in the Pride of Table Tennis Awards.

Connop’s honour comes after Portishead TTC took the region’s club of the year prize, with both now shortlisted for the national awards, with winners to be revealed on March 30.

Jos Kelly, South West regional chairman, made the presentation to Connop at Gordano School and said: “Portishead Table Tennis Club seems to have burst on to the scene in a big way.

“The club’s drive and energy to promote the sport and bring its many benefits to the local community has seen it grow at a tremendous rate and attract new players from all age groups.

“It is very fitting that it should be recognised as the South West club of the year and doubly fitting that Derek should separately be awarded.

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“There are hundreds of volunteers devoting much time and energy into the sport but this year Derek has stood out for what he achieved as an organiser, coach, player and motivator and he is a very worthy recipient.”

Connop has been a driving force behind a number of innovations at the club including becoming a grade one coach and arranging for six other members to complete the course.

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He also developed an outreach programme with Portishead Youth Club, running regular Monday night sessions, and set up weekly an after-school club with Gordano, run by head of PE and grade two coach Emma Rose.

A regular Sunday evening 15-table club session has also been set up, while a closer relationship with Table Tennis England has been forged to secure funding to support initiatives and the club has become active in the Young Ambassador scheme.

Club member Steve Pratt nominated Connop and said: “After enjoying a fairly stable base for the last 50 years, the club has absolutely taken off since Derek became involved. A great deal of this progress has been directly down to his efforts.

Connop was keen to recognise the efforts of everyone at the club, thanking players, coaches, parents and administrators for constant support and paid tribute to the late Deon Riley. He said: “Deon represented everything that was good and right about being a member of a sports club and his loss is still felt deeply within the club.”

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