Len - Resident
Len from Essex proves that being 90 years of age is no barrier in continuing to do what you enjoy. A part-time table tennis coach until he retired at the age of 65, Len then became a volunteer and now coaches weekly sessions for youngsters at a table tennis club near his Abbeyfield home.
Len’s coaching career began in 1947 and he coached the famous table tennis player George "Chester" Barnes from the age of 10. Chester went on to be England number one for three consecutive years from the age of 15. Len remembers that Chester "just had that spark from an early age". He says he can still spot talent, and although he admits to not being "the most energetic of coaches", he says that volunteering not only helps him to stay active, but keeps him in touch with the younger generation and the outside world.
Each Saturday, for over two hours, Len organises games such as ‘round the table’ and ‘in and out’ – a sort of relay game adapted for table tennis. He then runs the weekly tournament, to encourage competition between the children. He says "the camaraderie and seeing young people’s playing improve makes me feel good". He’s currently coaching one child who he thinks has "that spark" and is progressing faster than the others, showing that Len still has that eagle eye for talent!
Staff at the club and at his Abbeyfield home of 21 years support and enable his volunteering. Len says "the members of the club pick me up and drop me back, and the staff keep my dinner warm until I get back". Len delights in showing any visitors and staff his proud collection of trophies. Volunteering helps to keep Len’s passion for sport alive, and is enabling a whole new generation of young table tennis players to achieve their full potential.