Press release Derek is the pride of Portishead

February 15 2019

Portishead Club Development Officer, Derek Connop, has been named as the South West Region’s Volunteer of the Yearin the national Pride of Table Tennis Awards.

The award comes alongside Portishead being named as the South West Region’s Table Tennis Club of the Year.

As South West winner – the region covers Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Avon, Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall – Connop has now been shortlisted for Table Tennis England’s National Pride of Table Tennis Awards, where the top volunteer will be announced in Leicester on March 30.

South West regional chairman, Jos Kelly, who made the presentation at Gordano School, 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 also 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 Table Tennis Club of the Year. It is doubly fitting, however, that Derek Connop should separately be awarded with the Pride Of Table Tennis Award for the South West Volunteer of the Year for the contribution he has made to the success of the Club. 

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

Derek, who was formerly the club’s general secretary, has been responsible for a number of innovations over the last two years. They include:

• Creating a club constitution and improving on the club’s administrative functions to allow it to run more smoothly. Setting up a website, a member database and an online club bank account;    

• Becoming a Table Tennis England grade one coach and arranging for 6 other members to complete the coaching course; 

• Developing an outreach programme with the local Portishead Youth Club, and running a regular Monday night coaching session; 

• Setting up a weekly after-school club with Gordano School in Portishead (run by head of PE and Grade 2 coach Emma Rose) which is regularly attended by more than 30 junior players; 

• Establishing an official club match shirt and promoting other club branded goods; 

• Designing an interclub competition format under the title “Club v Club” and organising and running several one-off inter-club events;

• Establishing a close working relationship with Table Tennis England and securing funding to help with the coaching course costs, getting a new table for the youth centre and getting more tables for the after-school club; 

• Setting Portishead up as ‘premier club’ with Table Tennis England and receiving numerous benefits as a result;

• Getting Portishead signed up and active in the Table Tennis England Young Ambassador scheme, which promotes youth participation in the overall running of the club;

• Setting up an agency arrangement with top table tennis equipment supplier, Bribar, so the club and its members can receive the best deals around on table tennis equipment and clothing;

• Setting up an annual club day in memory Brian Pearson and Dick Hawking, the two men who previously managed the club until they passed away. The latter was with the club when it was established in the 1940s. 

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

Derek is keen to recognise the efforts of everyone involved in the club for bringing it to where it is. “Without the constant support and participation of all the players, coaches, administrators and parents of our junior members, none of this would have happened,” he said. He also dedicated his award to Deon Riley, who tragically died while playing a game for the club last year. “Deon represented everything that was good and right about the sport and his loss is still felt deeply from within the club and the wider table tennis community,” he said. 

Outside of his table tennis volunteering, Derek is also an independent visitor for an organisation called Reconstruct, which provides an adult visiting/mentoring service to children living in social care. “They are always looking for new volunteers and their details can be found online,” he concluded.


• Portishead is a Table Tennis England Premier Club. It was established in 1946.

• It has around 60 members of all ages – the youngest is 10 and the oldest in his 80s.

• The club encourages members of all ages and ability ranges. New members are always welcome.

• The club plays matches at the Portishead Lake Grounds and at Walton Hall. It also has regular training nights at Gordano School.

• It currently has 14 adult teams and four junior teams playing in the British League, the Bristol and District League, The Weston-super-Mare League, the National Junior League, and the Bristol Junior League.

For more information see: contact:

Derek Connop

Club Development Officer

07779 118936 (m)


Stephen Knight

General Secretary, Portishead Table Tennis Club

01275 871925


Author: via Portishead Table Tennis Club
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