All the ladies who have ever played in the Women’s British League from its inception to today have a great debt of gratitude to pay to Christine Lewis who passed away peacefully on January 12, aged 89.

Christine (pictured above right) was ever present at all major events and at National Council weekends supporting her husband, Mike, who was the ETTA Vice Chairman Development for many years.

So, it was natural for her to become the Assistant Organiser of the Women’s British League (WBL) when it was launched in April 1989 with Mike holding the main organising role.

Christine’s  funeral will be held on February 29 at 12.45pm at Canford Crematorium, Canford Lane, Bristol, with the wake locally afterwards. All are welcome, but please let Christine’s son, Paul, know in advance via email before Friday February 16.

It will also be streamed, available live and for 3 days after 29th;
Username: jafu4027
Password: 177014

That first weekend it was not only the play that was described as magical with 130 players taking part to an incredibly high standard, but Saturday evening saw a delightful dinner with time for socialising as well. The whole weekend was a real treat.

The WBL launch followed from the Women in Table Tennis Conference where MP Edwina Currie was a speaker, amongst other prominent people.

Christine & Mike Lewis with Terry Gadsby at the Women in TT Conference

Christine continued in her role as Assistant Organiser until 1992 when she and Mike reversed roles and Christine continued as the Organiser until 2005 when she retired.

Her contribution to the WBL was immense both in its early stages and as it developed into a unique and very popular tournament in the event calendar for women. Christine was also secretary and administrator during those 17 years.

She received The Solihull Trophy twice, a trophy presented by the WBL for an individual who enhanced the Women’s British League. She was the first recipient in 2000 and was a recipient for the second time in 2005, jointly with Mike.

1992, Women’s British League. Right: Christine with Jose Ransome

Other ETTA committee positions which Christine held were Women’s Steering Committee Member 1991-92; Women’s Development Committee Member 1993-97 and Secretary 1997-98; Membership Committee Secretary 1996-97; Veterans’ British League (VBL) Organiser for several years, again assisting Mike, who helped launch it.

At regional level, Christine became secretary of the South West Region from 1989-90.

Perhaps one of the more pleasurable roles that Christine undertook was as VIP hostess at the European Championships in 1994, popularly known as Euro ’94, in Birmingham, the World Veteran Championships in Manchester in 1998 and the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002. A role which Christine performed admirably.

Christine (left) with Jose Ransome (centre) and Pat Chatwin

For her contribution to table tennis, Christine was honoured by becoming an ETTA Vice President in 2003 followed by the Ivor Montagu Award in 2005 “for her work as Secretary/Organiser of the Women’s British League Committee since its inception 17 years ago”.

At the WBL 25th anniversary weekend in February 2014, Christine was invited to attend as a special guest with her son Paul, husband Mike sadly having passed away shortly before.

25th anniversary of WBL: Jose Ransome, Dot Macfarlane, Christine

Christine was a charming lady and worked tirelessly and quietly for the benefit of so many. Her gentle demeanour and graciousness will be remembered by all who knew her.

From Lynda Reid, ETTA Vice President, International Umpire and WBL player for many seasons:

“When WBL began in 1980s it was the hard work and enthusiasm of Mike and Christine Lewis, with Jose Ransome and Dot Macfarlane, that laid the foundations for what we have today.

“This coming weekend, 40 teams of women will meet together to continue the competition in the same spirit of friendly rivalry that women in table tennis have enjoyed for so long. Thank you Christine.”

From Alan Ransome OBE, ETTA Honorary Life Member and former ETTA Chairman:

“Christine was a very pleasant and helpful lady who made a great contribution to table tennis at national level. Christine invested a huge amount of time over many years helping her late husband, Mike Lewis, with the voluntary development work that he was carrying out on behalf of the Association.

“Mike, with much of the work being carried out by Christine, was the organiser of the Women’s British League, Junior British League and Veteran’s British League in the early years. Except for the work carried out by the various referees, Mike and Christine did nearly all of the work in the lead up to the events and the running of the competitions over the weekends. 

“In addition to this, Mike Lewis was Vice Chairman of Development, again assisted by Christine, which along with Diccon Gray, the National Development Officer, ran an extremely successful development programme managing the 10 Regional Development Officers which helped to deliver a great deal of support for local leagues and clubs with grants and information. They were heavily involved in the development work which established 50 full-time or part-time centres along with the Association Architect, Paul Baker, for specialist clubs around the country.
“Christine was also a great friend of my wife, Jose, and we were both sad to hear of Christine’s passing.”

From Dot Macfarlane, ETTA Vice-President, Organiser and Administrative Assistant of the WBL:

A wonderful lady who did lots to support women in table tennis, along with others – ‘the team’. They helped give women a voice, and a position in the sport in their own right. As well as supporting table tennis fully with husband Mike, for and at many national and local events. One of the ‘old team’ who were very conscientious members of the ETTA who ensured women’s table tennis had their own status and competitions from the 1980s when competitions were mainly mixed.

“Many happy and grateful memories of friendship with Christine have brought with them sadness at her passing. However, the wonderful times and friendships will stay with us forever – a wonderful ambassador of our beloved sport and friend to all and her legacy remains throughout the table tennis fraternity.”  

Our sincere condolences go to all Christine’s family and friends. Details of the funeral will be notified once arrangements are known. A period of silence will be observed at this weekend’s Women’s British League in memory of Christine.