Runcorn Para Table Tennis Chairman receives OBE

Karen Tonge received an MBE in the New Year Honors list for her voluntary service to the sport of table tennis.

Karen Tongue, The Chairman of British Para Table Tennis, received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List for his services to Paralympic Table Tennis.

Tonge, from Runcorn, who received an MBE in the 2009 New Years Honors for promoting table tennis locally, volunteering in the sport and promoting healthy lifestyles, has joined the British Table Tennis Association for People with Disabilities (BTTAD) by becoming a limited liability company. and was elected president in March 2015.

The organization was renamed British Para Table Tennis in 2016 to reflect the shift in focus towards elite disabled athletes, and with a new governance structure Tonge was reappointed Chairman in 2019.

A member of the National Board of the British Paralympic Association since 2014, Tonge attended the Paralympic Games in Rio in support of the para table tennis team, but due to Covid restrictions he had to support from home for the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

An international referee and umpire, she has officiated at para events in the UK and overseas and was appointed referee for the table tennis and para table tennis events at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. She was also named a Fellow of the Swaythling Club International in 2017 for those who have represented their country on the world stage or who have rendered distinguished service to the sport of table tennis.

“I am delighted to accept this honor,” said Tonge. “It reflects all that the organization has done over the years to transform people’s lives and it is recognition for the world of para table tennis. I was amazed to receive the letter as I thought that this was a support letter request for someone else and i never imagined it would happen to me again.

“The Paralympic movement has grown over the past few years with table tennis having 11 classifications for men and women with wheelchair and standing athletes. BPTT has come a long way from winning no medals at Beijing 2008 to seven in Tokyo thanks to the support of UK Sport and the National Lottery, the hard work of a great performance director in Gorazd Vecko with his team of fantastic coaches, support staff and world-class athletes who inspire the next generation of young Pathway team athletes. We’ve also developed a great board of directors and volunteers who support our program.”

Tonge has been involved in sport for the disabled ever since she befriended a woman in a wheelchair, Trixie Hill, who was on staff at a Chester Diocesan Youth Holiday. In 1984 she coached table tennis player Tony Edge to a silver medal at the seventh Paralympic Games held in Stoke Mandeville and her involvement in para table tennis increased when she became area chair. from the North West of Table Tennis England in 1989.

Since 1999, she has also been president of the Halton Table Tennis Club, from where two-time Paralympian Jack Hunter-Spivey moved on to the British Performance Squad, winning Paralympic bronze in Tokyo last year.

In 2020 Table Tennis England appointed Tonge to be a member of the Para Committee of the European Table Tennis Union (ETTU) and her appointment as Vice Chair has just been renewed until 2024. Table Tennis England has also named Karen to be a member of the international table. Para Committee of the Tennis Federation (ITTF) in 2021 and she was elected at the AGM in Houston, Texas.

Outside of table tennis, Tonge has been a member of the global volunteer movement Soroptimist International since 1984, which aims to transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and opportunity, and served as President regional for Cheshire, North Wales and the Wirral. from 1994-95.

In 2013, she was invited to become a Rotary International at Runcorn and Paul Harris Fellow, which serves others, promotes integrity, and advances global understanding, goodwill, and peace through the brotherhood of world leaders. , professional and community, as President from 2016-17.

In 2019, she was elected Deputy Co-Chair of the Sports & Games Division of the Sport & Recreation Alliance and re-elected in 2021.

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