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To celebrate they release the single Build a Bridge (the first-ever by a UK community sports club)

Tim Holtam co-founded the Brighton Table Tennis Club (BTTC) in 2007 and it has grown since then into a community of over 1500 players a week, including a Downs Syndrome Champion, boys from Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, a former UK Chinese Champion, top junior players from all over Brighton and local club players. 

They run 100 tables in parks, schools and prisons and work with refugee groups, travellers and psychiatric patients.
It began ten years ago as a means to help white working-class kids from Brighton’s deprived neighbourhoods.  “With those kinds of values from the very beginning, we’ve now expanded into working with adults with learning disabilities, children in foster care, refugees and homeless people.”

Any group that could benefit from some social engagement and some social inclusion and some fun through table tennis is welcome,” Tim explains.“In February 2007, me and co-founder Harry McCarney had two old tables in the Brighton Youth Centre; over ten years it’s grown and now we’ve got over 1,000 people a week playing on over 100 tables across Brighton in schools and outside.”Tim Holtam says ”It’s a place of hope, solidarity and opportunity. On a Tuesday we have young Irish travellers being coached by Afghan unaccompanied minors, the world’s first Table Tennis coach with Down’s syndrome and local white British kids.”

In May last year, BTTC became the UK’s first Club of Sanctuary. The Sanctuary title was previously only given to cities and schools. It is a grassroots scheme, created in 2005, that honours places that “take pride in the welcome they offer to people in need of safety”. BTTC has also been given substantial grants from Sport England to support its refugee integration work.

Tim adds, as an afterthought of the club’s progress: “Yeah, it’s become a bit of a thing.”

Pedro Santos, a formidable Portuguese player and BTTC Head Coach, is proud that there people from eight European countries and ten from the rest of the world – including Eritrea, Afghanistan and Syria.

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