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Tony Rigby, Helen Lower, Des Douglas and Alan Cooke
Tony Rigby pictured with Helen Lower
Des Douglas and Alan Cooke

On Friday 9th September I was privileged to be present at the opening of Preston Table Tennis Associations new centre at St.Augustines.
The centre is housed in the New Avenham Centre a purpose built sports centre built on the old site of St.Augustine's church and still retaining its magnificent towers. As well as the TT centre the building offers a fitness, exercise and healthy living centre. There is also a creche, cafe area and IT with learning facilities for the whole local community.

Present at the opening were the Lord Mayor and his wife, local football legend Tom Finney and the ETTA chairman Alex Murdoch and his wife Val.

Two exhibition matches were played between former and current Mens and Ladies English National champions.
First match up was between the current English Ladies National Champion Helen Lower and former Champion Andrea Holt. Then followed the men current English National Champion Alan Cooke and the evergreen Des Douglas.

The 200+ crowd were thoroughly entertained by both matches with some excellent play by all four players.
The evening was compered by former Scottish international Brian Deane who managed to persuade a somewhat surprised Tony Rigby to play a short match against Alan Cooke. To even things out Alan played with a very large wooden bat and then to the further amusement of the crowd a frying pan which seemed to suit him quite well.
All matches were umpired by Stan Clarke.

See also this link from the ETTA website for a further report.