Babs Blanch, Life President of The Oaks Club in Middlesex and a volunteer in table tennis for 70 years, died recently at the age of 90. Her children Gill, Pam and Liz, pay tribute.

It is with great sadness that we share the news that our mum, Babs Blanch, Life President of The Oaks Club in Middlesex, died peacefully at home on 13th October 2022, at the age of 90.

Babs was born in August 1932, above a pawn broker and jeweller’s shop in London’s North Kensington, managed by her father. At the outbreak of war, having just turned seven years old, she was evacuated to Rowde in Wiltshire, where she enjoyed the freedom of the countryside.

On returning to London after the war she completed her education and gained employment in the China and Glass department of a large Kensington department store, Derry & Toms (now the Kensington Roof Garden). However, her parents had recently acquired a household goods shop in Acton, wherein she was keen to work. Her dad only agreed to this on the understanding that she join a club to meet people her own age.

Babs joined the local youth club, at St Albans Church, Acton Green, (the forerunner of The Oaks Club) on 23rd September 1952.

Immediately, Babs found herself appointed “Welcome Hostess” – tasked with meeting and greeting new faces. At the club she enjoyed participating in many activities including ballroom dancing, tennis, club rambles, hikes and holidays and she performed (singing and dancing) in several “Club Reviews”. Babs also set her sights on Eric who taught her to play table tennis. On 24th September 1958 they married and became the 21st wedding between members who met at the club. 

Babs and Eric Blanch playing in 1956

Babs’ table tennis volunteering career spanned 70 years, during which she undertook every job there was to be done for the club. Additionally, she served for over 40 years on the Acton & District Table Tennis League (subsequently West Middlesex TTL) committee, and as well as working in the local community to encourage and develop our sport.

As a player, Babs helped pave the way for future women in sport, as the first lady to ever play in the Men’s 1st Division of the Acton & District League, she also chalked up over 300 appearances representing the league, she represented Middlesex in the county championships, competed in the early years of the VETTS Tournaments, and played Women’s British League for The Oaks – alongside her daughters.

Babs qualified as an ETTA Club Coach in 1989, although she had coached and nurtured dozens of players who passed through the club for years prior. Even having had four children of their own, the never-ending commitment, determination and enthusiasm of Babs and her late husband, Eric, ensured the continued success of The Oaks Club.

In 2014, Babs was thrilled to be awarded Table Tennis England’s Unsung Hero Award, and in 2019 she was recognised by the London Borough of Ealing for her Contribution to Sport.

First and foremost, Babs was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother to nine.

Gill, Pam, Liz, and our families, have been touched by the many messages received, saying so many wonderful things about our mum, whose unstinting work for The Oaks and for table tennis as a whole has made such a positive impact on the lives of so many. Babs will be enormously missed by all of those who knew her.

The family has set up a JustGiving page in memory of Babs, raising money for the British Heart Foundation. If you would like to make a donation, please click here.

Babs Blanch