British Para Table Tennis player, Simon Heaps, joins the BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Simon has joined our BRIT Ambassador family.
Simon represented England in the 1970s, was European Cadet and English Jnr Champion, and returned to the sport in 2016. Following the amputation of his right leg, below the knee in 2019, Simon joined British Para Table Tennis from his hospital bed. At the age of 65, he is determined to represent England at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“Since adapting to life with a disability, I have been determined to set goals and keep active to look after my mental health and wellbeing. I represented England in the 1970s and returned to the sport five years ago. However, post-amputation, in 2019, I was determined not to let this affect my love of playing table tennis and decided to join British Para Table Tennis.
At 65, I hope that my aim to represent England once more at the 2022 Commonwealth Para Games, gives a little hope to others and encourages them to take part in the BRIT 2021 Challenge; no matter what their age,ability or disability. COVID-19 has been tough for the whole country and I have certainly felt low a number of times over the past year. Having a goal and keeping active has been so important to my mental wellbeing; I am sure that many University and College staff members, as well as their students, have found the pandemic challenging and the BRIT 2021 Challenge is a great way to feel-good and have fun.
Sadly, many charity challenges are often limited and not always fully inclusive. I applaud BRIT for designing their BRIT 2021 Challenge to be inclusive and enabling students and staff of all abilities to take part; by hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding).
Every UK University, College and Students Union have been invited to enter teams in the BRIT 2021 Challenge, promote the event and encourage their students and staff to participate. Once a team has registered, every student, young adult and staff member can decide how much distance they want to add to their team’s 2,021 mile target; at home or on campus.
I hope that staff members, as well as students, will take part in the BRIT 2021 Challenge to improve their mental health and fitness; all while raising vital funds for five mental heath charities who support student and young adult mental health.
I am delighted to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family and it would be a pleasure to support students and staff at the Arts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth University as they take on the BRIT 2021 Challenge”.
Simon, from Milford on Sea near Lymington, was European Cadet Champion in 1970 and English Junior Champion in 1972 and won a string of other tournaments, including the Junior Boys’ Doubles title at the English Open in 1972/3, in partnership with Desmond Douglas. He went on to represent England as a senior before retiring in 1979.
He came back to the sport in 2016 and played in VETTS events, winning two gold medals at the Six Nations event in Guernsey representing England once again, competing in the European Vetts Championship in Sweden and finally becoming English Champion again at o/60 Doubles in 2018.
In 2019, Simon’s health deteriorated and as a result of Type 1 Diabetes (52 years), his right leg was amputated below the knee on May 29th.
He joined British Para Table Tennis from his hospital bed and arranged for a specialist wheelchair. Simon is being coached by Matt Ware; a top-20 player, ex International and World Championship qualifier.
At 65 years old, Simon’s short term ambition is to play for England at the Commonwealth Para Games in 2022 in Birmingham. If selected Simon would be in Class 3-5 Wheelchair Table Tennis at the Games, which is very competitive with GB Para Table Tennis players Jack Hunter-Spivey and Dan Bullen also competing for selection and currently above him in the ITTF Para World Rankings.
Simon is now training and will be entering International Para competitions in Slovakia, Thailand and Spain in June and Czech Republic and Taipei in July, representing GB Para Table Tennis, when restrictions for Para Table Tennis events are lifted, so that he can gain qualification and selection for the England team.