Bishop's Waltham pensioners start new ping pong club to promote health benefits

Hampshire Chronicle: (l-r): John Tunnicliffe, John Moorhouse, John Hunt and Peter Jenkins (l-r): John Tunnicliffe, John Moorhouse, John Hunt and Peter Jenkins

BORIS Johnson called it whiff-whaff, others know it as ping pong, and some call it table tennis.

Call it what you will, it’s a game often associated with the young and it’s a staple of most youth clubs and many a student union.

But Bishop’s Waltham’s pensioners are proving they’re still game and a new ping-pong club aimed at senior citizens has got them limbering up.

Laurie Rickwood, a village agent for Age Concern Hampshire, set the ball rolling for the town’s new over-55’s club. He was inspired after seeing a documentary that followed a group of Chinese octogenarians as they prepared for the World Table Tennis championships in 2012.

“We have been promoting ping pong for older people in the community and I went around the lunch clubs and had a stall at a recent community day. I was approached by a number of people who were interested in playing.

“There are numerous health benefits for older people,” he said.

Mr Rickwood hopes the club will reduce social isolation and loneliness, and the initiative is part of the Better Balance for Life Falls Prevention project.

Ping pong enthusiasts say the game can improve balance, which builds confidence and in turn reduces falls.

Alzheimer’s groups have lauded the game for improving sleep patterns, increasing cerebral blood flow, and promoting better coordination and upper body strength.

A meeting in November saw 12 residents turn up, and the club now boasts an average attendance of eight people.

They have been meeting every Wednesday from 2pm until 5pm but are now on the look-out for a permanent home.

At a council meeting on February 11, they secured the support of Bishop’s Waltham Parish Council, who agreed to provide access to the town’s Scout hut until the end of March.

If you are interested in joining, email bishopswalthamva@ageconcernhampshire.org.uk

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