Ping pong pensioners in Ottery put work of forum in spotlight

PUBLISHED: 15:58 05 February 2017

Diana Price-Hughes is the oldest member of the club at the age of 94. Credit: Anthony Butler

Diana Price-Hughes is the oldest member of the club at the age of 94. Credit: Anthony Butler

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An Ottery table tennis group - which has an average age of 80 - is helping to shine a light on the town’s efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of residents over 50.

John Clapham, a former table tennis champion, has suffered many strokes but becomes a different player when playing with the Wrinklies. Credit: Anthony ButlerJohn Clapham, a former table tennis champion, has suffered many strokes but becomes a different player when playing with the Wrinklies. Credit: Anthony Butler

The Wrinklies, which many members say is the best part of their week, is part of the town’s Later Life Forum.

The forum was set up by Councillor Elli Pang almost 15 years ago.

She said the Wrinklies had brought the work of the forum, which runs classes, clubs, seminars and trips, to people’s attention after it was featured on regional television news.

Cllr Pang said: “There is an expectation by the Government that communities look after themselves. We seem to be on cue with what the Government would like communities to be doing.

“We have lots of community groups, not just the Later Life Forum. Whatever group that person is part of, it’s good for them.

“It’s a good model and the structure of the forum could easily be replicated widely.”

At the Wrinklies, the oldest member is 94-year-old Diana Price-Hughes, who attends the sessions with her brother David, 92.

Member John Clapham has suffered a number of strokes, requires help walking and suffers from vascular dementia.

Fellow player Robert Neal said: “He needs aid with walking, but put a table tennis bat in his hand and he’s a different person.”

Mr Clapham, a former table tennis champion, was once known as ‘the whippet’ due to his speed.

Mr Neal said: “It’s a wonderful social activity - we’re great friends and have become a great group for friendship. We support each other, even though we are competitive. It doesn’t matter if we lose, we’re wrinklies having a go.”

Anthony Butler, whose father John is a Wrinklies member, filmed a video last year documenting why members enjoy going to the club.

The filmmaker said: “When you go, it’s a really good energy - you get a really good vibe.”


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