Ken Eliot says he is “gobsmacked” to have received a BEM in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Ken (pictured above left), a Table Tennis England vice-president who has devoted more than 30 years to supporting table tennis at a national level, receives the honour for services to table tennis.

Two other members of the table tennis family also receive the BEM:

Gary Howes receives his BEM for services to table tennis, young people and to the community in Tunbridge Wells.

Margaret Calver, Treasurer of Norwich Table Tennis League and a committee member of Norfolk County Table Tennis Association is awarded for services to table tennis.

Ken Eliot’s national involvement began at a National Council meeting in 1989 and from there he became a Level 2 Umpire and a Level 4 Tournament Organiser.

But he is perhaps best known in the table tennis community for his roles in helping national and major international events run smoothly through his ‘back-of-house’ positions on the field of play and as transport manager.

Among the events at which he had a key role were the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, the World Championships in the same city in 1997 and the World Veterans’ Championships the following year, as well as several English Opens in Sheffield.

Ken, who is 78, received the news as he is recovering from a major operation to repair an aortic aneurysm.

He said: “I’m gobsmacked, thrilled to bits, I would never in my life have imagined I would be recognised like this. It’s absolutely the icing on the cake.”

Ken has many happy memories of his time working at domestic and international events. He said: “I was primarily responsible for transport for most of those events, especially those in Sheffield, and responsible for ensuring all the players and officials got to the venues they needed to be at.

“It was a great honour to be able to do it and wonderful to be able to meet the top players and take them around, doing things like speaking to the world No 1 from China on the way to the hotel.

“It has to be the camaraderie that kept me going, working with people like Chris Newton. It was an enjoyable time and still is, though sadly I’m no longer able to do that because my physical ability has gone and the restrictions I have. It’s a long road to recovery from the operation I had.”

The President of Gainsborough TTL, Ken is looking forward to travelling to Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle to receive his honour.

He added: “I’ll be delighted to go along and take my wife Judith with me. She’s had to bear the brunt of my efforts in the game, in spite of not knowing the workings of table tennis, and she deserves to be part of the “party” and receive the award with me.”

Gary Howes, who is founder and head coach at Byng Hall TTC, told KentLive: “In short I was completely stunned when I received the letter; I had no idea that I had been put forward for any award. As for what keeps me going, well I love what I do; I love the sport, both my kids, well adults now, gained a great deal from it as I did when I competed back in the day.

“So it followed on that putting back into the sport for what we all gained from it only seemed right. Once I had completed my coaching awards and saw how amazing it was with youngsters going from shy individuals into, in many cases, becoming competent players at whatever level they chose, I was hooked and thought it to be my calling so to speak.”

Byng Hall is the club where Paralympic champion Will Bayley started his career.

Gary Howes (picture by Diane Webb)

Margaret Calver and her husband Dennis won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pride of Table Tennis Awards earlier this year. Click here to read more about this.

Margaret told the Eastern Daily Press: “Although it is my name that is on the award, I see it being for both me and Dennis, and for everyone else who does what we do and contributes to the sport.”

The couple founded Taverham Tennis Club in the early 1970s after moving to the area in 1964.

Margaret and Dennis Calver receive their Pride of Table Tennis Award from Table Tennis England President Jill Parker MBE