Death of Hailsham table tennis stalwart at age of 96

A much-loved chairman, coach, and grandfather who devoted more than 40 years to the Hailsham Table Tennis Club has died at the age of 96.

Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 5:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 4:42 pm

Jim West, who moved to Hailsham in 1967, was described by friends and loved ones as a great character who helped a lot of people.

His daughter Pat Hayes said he was a “brilliant father” who was always there for his 13 grandchildren.

His family held a funeral for him at Eastbourne Crematorium followed by food at Blackstock Farm, Hellingly, on Monday (November 28).

Mr West was always trying to promote the table tennis club, and was also chairman before becoming president of Hailsham Sports Alliance.

During his time as a coach, he trained more than 2,000 juniors and seniors who went on to become county and even international level players.

Mr West was also involved in Hailsham Rotary Club, where he was granted a lifetime award for services to the town.

Dianne Griggs, of Hailsham Table Tennis Club, said, “Jim West moved to Hailsham in 1967 and was soon involved in table tennis, running up to 12 teams playing at The Crown.

“He played for many years and won the Eastbourne League Veterans singles on three occasions.

“With a very solid defence, Jim was a difficult player to beat.

“After stopping playing, Jim devoted himself to coaching using his qualification as a national coach.

“Many players improved to a high standard under his watchful eye.

“Jim had the ability to get the best out of people.

“Even into his 90s, Jim maintained his coaching skills and continued to help players.

“Jim was made president of the Eastbourne League in 2000 and was at the Championships every year to see the players and present the trophies.

“He will be badly missed by many.”

In a letter Phil Matthews, principal of Hailsham Community College where the club plays, said, “I worked closely with Jim over the years and came to consider him a friend.

“I have a huge amount of respect for him and the work he did with the District Sports alliance and, more widely, with the development of table tennis; it was indicative of his devotion and passion for providing opportunities to others.

“Jim was one of life’s great characters who was always at the heart of the community.

“I have very fond memories of working with Jim and know he will be missed enormously by everybody who had the pleasure of knowing him.”