Chris Beckley is our table tennis coach, and he spent years volunteering at St Luke’s, teaching kids table tennis skills, before joining our tutor team. Hundreds of locals of all ages have benefited from his teaching and support.

We asked Chris some questions about his time at St Luke’s, and what he enjoys doing when he’s not at the table tennis table:

How long have you been at St Luke’s? What specifically do you do at the Centre?

Chris: I have been running the kids table tennis club since inception approximately eleven years ago at St Luke’s.

I have had a life changing/enhancing experience and privilege of introducing and teaching the sport and game of table tennis to hundreds of local kids and adults. Yes, pre-Covid we had an adult evening table tennis club and post lockdown we now have the kids clubs which are picking up slowly but surely, and the women’s weekly table tennis session which is run on Wednesday mornings from 11-12noon, which is proving popular week after week.

To think I almost gave up at the onset as everything took so long to set up!

I definitely must be one of the longest serving volunteers of ten or so years…and I still love every single second of the life enhancing opportunity to serve the EC1 community.

Little did I know when I embarked on setting up a table tennis club that years later I’d look back at how much it has influenced & affected my life so positively and to think of the tens of hundreds of kids that have come through to play table tennis over the years.

And now we have the women’s table tennis on Wednesday mornings from 11-12pm, taking on a unique life of its own and really having such positive impact on almost all the attendees. It’s such an eye opener and an experience I’ll cherish for a long time. It’s easy to see the impact our little fun and often physically demanding session has on the women with all manner of backgrounds beliefs and values.

What’s your background in table tennis?

Chris: I’ve played table tennis since I can remember being a little boy…the passion was natural and I was totally immersed even at such a young age, but I still managed to pursue and obtain a reasonably good education followed by a career in the training & development department of the London Fire Brigade that lasted a good and meritorious 26 years.

Four years to date I’m a full time and totally lucky, happy & privileged licenced table tennis coach with so many clients and participants across two London boroughs!

Do you live locally? What do you love about EC1?

Chris: Oh I wish I lived locally but I love my house of 30+ years in New Cross, South London. Saying that it’s almost a place where I sleep as my waking moments are spent

mainly in Hackney and Islington. EC1 holds dear to my heart as I see almost daily some of the kids and some now all grown calling and saying “hello Chris!” from a distance!

The diversity of EC1 is such a draw of my affection and of course St Luke’s Community Centre makes it all possible for people, regardless of social, economic, religious, racial backgrounds to come together and grow and learn new life skills and have fun together.

What do you hope people take from your classes?

Chris: My goodness this is a big one…. EVERYTHING POSITIVE AND LIFE ENHANCING, ENRICHING, ENERGISING, ENCOURAGING, ENGAGING … & much more is what I want people to take from my classes - that can be very subjective! I hope when people come they feel they can have fun as they learn new skills which we all know is not often easy, finding oneself out of your comfort zone isn’t always fun but that’s my job, to lead and guide them steadily along to a point of total confidence and fun whilst being active doing a little cardio, physical and mental exercise.

I have been so lucky and blessed with almost everyone that has come through us at St Luke’s and beyond, to either learn or just come because they want to spend time with their family members and friends away from home and doing fun things.

Seeing the shy, reticent and nervy child or adult transformed to full confidence and having so much fun is so rewarding as a coach and almost the best feeling ever.

I am so glad, proud and lucky to say I go to bed every night so fulfilled and with a smile for my day teaching table tennis to the masses of EC1 and beyond.

Do you have any other hobbies?

Chris: I love live comedy, live music & I play all racket sports - badminton, squash, tennis & of course table tennis!

…and I love watching …Grey’s Anatomy!

Thank you so much for answering our questions, Chris!

Such a fun interview, and Chris is definitely a great person to have teaching table tennis to kids and adults alike here at St Luke’s. If you are interested in playing table tennis at St Luke’s, take a look at our website, or follow our social media channels for updates.