OVER the last seven years, Anglesey has developed a reputation across Wales as something of a table tennis superpower.
The island team, which is based in Amlwch, recently underlined its national dominance by being crowned Welsh Veterans’ Table Tennis Champions for the third time in the last four years.
In addition, the Amlwch A team have been all-conquering in the Llandudno and District Table Tennis League, yet again winning the Premier Division at a canter, while three members of the team, Paul Collins, Keith Williams and Reg John, have represented Wales in this season’s Over 40s Six Nations Table Tennis Championship.
Given such widespread success, it might surprise some to read about the island’s heritage in the sport, but it was not always this way.
Seven years ago, Stockport resident and table tennis star, Paul Collins, upped sticks and decided to move to the village of Llaneilian, Anglesey.
Having represented England in numerous World and European Championships, Paul had resigned himself to retirement from the sport as he prepared to migrate to this quiet, rural corner of the Wales.
But wife Ann shared no such thoughts.
“No way”, Ann told him, and he was quickly instructed to find a local table tennis.
With no clubs on the island, Peter was put in touch with table tennis enthusiast Don Hobbs, of Cemaes Bay, who had a playing table in his garage.
When Peter’s obvious talent began shining through, Don invited more and more players to challenge the Lancastrian.
Paul said: “I didn’t realise there were people who played table tennis.
"So I formed a club and we started out playing in the football club in Amlwch.
“We soon outgrew the football club and moved to the memorial hall.
"Now, we have two teams and a couple of dozen people who play.
"We have seven tables there. It’s just mushroomed to be honest!”
Following the club’s success at the Welsh Veterans’ last month, Paul, now aged 65, was propelled to the top of the Wales over 40s rankings - no mean feat for a bus-pass holder.
Along with team mates, Keith Williams, Reg John, Ian Ault and Mark Bryant, Paul has firmly stamped the Anglesey name on the table tennis map.
And with a new generation being introduced the sport with sessions at Beaumaris Leisure Centre and Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Amlwch, there is no sign of it fading quickly.
He said: “I take great pleasure when kids enjoy sports. I’ve always been a firm believer that if they’re doing sport they’re not getting into trouble elsewhere.”
Whether you’re aged 8 or 80, Paul is holding table tennis sessions to cater for players of all ages and abilities.
To find out more, contact Paul on 01407 831453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.