A Brighton youth club founder, who is transforming the lives of local people across all backgrounds and ages, is in line for recognition after being nominated in the outstanding individuals section of the 2023 National Lottery Awards.
Tim Holtam from Brighton Table Tennis Club has been shortlisted in the sport category in the outstanding individual’s section of this year’s awards for his
unwavering efforts in his community.
The National Lottery Awards are the annual celebration of the ordinary individuals and organisations who do extraordinary things with the help of National
Tim first moved toBrighton in 2005, he found there was no youth club for the sport in which he excelled as a junior champion – table tennis. After setting up a club himself, securing a free room and two worn-out tables, sixteen years later the
club is now engaging more than 1,500 people from all backgrounds and ages, in 70 weekly sessions.
Since its inception over 16 years ago it has grown into so much more than just a table tennis club. Thanks to Tim’s determination to transform lives and create opportunities for all, the club provides people with positive role models and a place to train, but also with an identity, a sense of belonging and purpose. It has become a sanctuary for local children, young refugees, former prisoners, pensioners,
schoolchildren and people with learning difficulties.
The club has helped develop a Paralympic Gold Medallist and national champions, but it’s Tim’s work in schools, youth centres, prisons and with asylum seekers that has really made a difference. Today the training programme includes those with Down’s Syndrome, ex-prisoners, and people living with long-term health conditions, as well as high performance players.
In 2016 it became the UK’s first Club of Sanctuary, recognising its work with refugees and asylum seekers, providing table tennis lessons to 80 unaccompanied refugee children from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Algeria and Vietnam. Hoang Nguyen, a teenage refugee from Vietnam, went on to become the first of many qualified table tennis coaches.
Last year, as one of three partners, they opened a new community food hub, which includes a new café serving food on a donation basis.
Tim commented: “It’s a real honour to be nominated for a National Lottery Award, and a bit of a shock if I’m honest! Sport can be used to engage people from all walks
of life, it can truly transform and enhance their world – bringing everyone together. That’s what we try to achieve every day at the club. It doesn’t matter where you come from or how old you are, the common ground is just to have fun and play table tennis.
It’s about feeling a sense of belonging, through sport.
“Support from the National Lottery has been invaluable; it has enabled us to massively expand our reach and impact working with people who would otherwise not be able
to afford to access the best coaching and all of the opportunities that come with it. It has also given us the tools to be able to share with others how to build grassroots community clubs from the ground up. More people should be doing things like this, and
without the help from organisations like The National Lottery, it’s a long and very difficult road.”
This year, 3,780 people and projects were nominated for the work they have carried out with the help of National Lottery funding.Over the summer, a panel made up of representatives of The National Lottery and partners, will decide the winners in each of the individual categories.
Winners will be revealed in the autumn and will receive a £5,000 cash prize for their organisation and a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy.
Jonathan Tuchner, from The National Lottery, said: “The National Lottery Awards honour those who have stepped up and have gone the extra mile to make
a difference in their communities, especially during these challenging times.
Thanks to National Lottery players and the £30 million raised each week for good causes, thousands of individuals and projects throughout the UK have been
making an incredible difference in their areas, and this is our chance to highlight and celebrate the exceptional work of these selfless local heroes.”
The outstanding individual’s section of this year’s National Lottery Awards will honour unsung heroes in the following categories:Arts, Culture & Film ,Heritage , Sport ,Community & Charity ,Environment
Young Hero (Under 25s)
There will also be a Special Achievement Award to celebrate an outstanding individual whose selfless dedication has improved the lives of the people around
them, especially during these challenging times.
In addition to the outstanding individual’s category, an online public vote will be held this year to find The National Lottery’ UK Project of the Year.
These nominees will be whittled down to 17 finalists, with a UK-wide public vote in September deciding the winner.