Harry Fairchild is the world’s first person with Down’s syndrome to officially qualify as a table tennis coach

Harry Fairchild recently passed his Table Tennis England Level 1 Coaching Qualification to become the world’s first qualified table tennis coach with Down’s syndrome. The demanding three-month course included a practical assessment of delivering table tennis skills to a group of children. A scribe helped Harry with the written work.

Harry Fairchild the world's first qualified table tennis coach with Down's syndromeFor the past three years, Harry has worked as a professional Makaton teacher at St Luke’s Primary School, Brighton.  Harry is also a talented actor, dancer and musician, however table tennis is his passion.  He has been part of the Brighton Table Tennis Club (BTTC) coaching team for the past six months and has a fantastic relationship with all the young people he teaches in three local primary schools. Harry took his Level 1 Coaching Course at BTTC.

“Playing table tennis is a good thing,” says Harry. “I love showing other people how to play. Being a coach is about staying still and then running around the tables as well. It is good exercise and good for muscles. People learn to respect each other through playing and everything will be OK when they play, if they have me to show them how to.”

Tim Holtam, BTTC Director says: “Harry is a great role model…Table tennis is lucky he has decided to focus his boundless energy on the sport. He plays between 3-5 hours, six days a week, and his passion for the sport and support for others make a great contribution to the club. He is also an outstanding player with a great future ahead of him and was recently crowned UK Table Tennis Champion at the Special Olympics National Competition as the highest finisher with Down’s syndrome.”

Active Sussex bursaries and Table Tennis England jointly funded the training. Coaches are asked to give ten weeks of voluntary coaching back to the sport locally. Brighton is a priority zone and hotspot for development of Table Tennis nationally. BTTC at The Fitzherbert’s Centre opens seven days a week to players of all ages and abilities. A local community club and registered charity, it holds weekly sessions for a wide range of groups, among them primary school children, under 16s, over 60s, people with learning disabilities and looked after children. Two women-only sessions are held each week.

From 3 July (and then from 10am-1pm on the first Sunday of every month) BTTC will be launching a monthly session for people with Down’s syndrome with Harry on the coaching team. Contact BTTC to find out more.

The club also works with refugee children and runs regular sessions in five secondary and eight primary schools in the city.