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Fund-raiser launched as tribute for late Grantham table tennis hero

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Grantham table tennis legend, Russell Winfield, passed away on Good Friday, aged 59.

Joe Marlor, aged 14, was coached by Russell, and is now raising money in his former mentor’s memory for Grantham Talking Newspaper for the Blind and the support of table tennis players with disabilities. The charities were chosen after consultation with the Winfield family.

On Sunday (April 26) Joe will be completing a challenge to raise awareness of table tennis and disability. He will be simulating various disabilities and attempting to play table tennis against a robot.

From left: Russell Winfield, Emily Winfield, Joe Marlor, Andy Marlor, Sarah Marlor (33869123)
From left: Russell Winfield, Emily Winfield, Joe Marlor, Andy Marlor, Sarah Marlor (33869123)

This is also the day that would have been the London Marathon 2020 and is now the 2.6 Challenge where people are all encouraged to do something at home for charity. He will therefore challenge himself to play for 26 minutes with each of several simulated disabilities.

Russell Winfield volunteered many hours of his time to mentor and teach Joe, who will never forget all that he has been taught, enabling him to become a much better player.

Karen Marlor said: “Our family are also eternally grateful for [Russell’s] encouragement to take up table tennis and enter a team in the local Grantham League.

“Now, Joe would like to do something back for Russell and his family, raising money for two very special causes.

“We hope to raise lots of money for our two causes, support local people in the community and make Russell proud, by continuing his legacy of doing what we can to help others. We also highly recommend the sport of table tennis, which can be played by all ages and abilities.”

Joe has already raised £300 via GoFundMe and would welcome further donations at https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-russell-winfield

You can follow Joe’s progress on the GoFundMe page or on The Cliffedale Chandlers’ Table Tennis Club Facebook page.

John Mapletoft, an England Table Tennis coach, also paid tribute to Russell. He said: “I knew Russell as a man and a boy for nearly 50 years. We first met at a “Table Tennis Come and Try Day” at a local primary school of which I was the coach/tutor. Russell as a young boy, even then, showed his willingness to listen and help others.

“Russell, in his teenage years, became interested in the St John’s Ambulance Cadets and became an active first aider, then later an officer for St John’s, always willing to help others in need. His working life, after his apprenticeship in the motor trade, became varied and he diversified into sales and marketing and always came across to customers as knowledgeable and helpful.

“My working relationship with Russell recommenced a number of years later when I met up with him at his children’s school open evening. I was coaching table tennis and his children showed an interest.

“Russell volunteered his services to Cliffedale Chandlers Table Tennis Club and was secretary from 2002 to 2004. His interest in table tennis and willingness to help children encouraged him to enrol and become a student coach at Level 2 of The English Table Tennis Association.

“To further his progress, to Level 3, Russell enrolled on an umpire training course at Grantham College and a child protection course; he was always willing to educate himself in his quest to help children to enjoy and develop their table tennis skills.

“Russell was a caring and beloved family man. He was also a good friend and will be missed by many. He will never be forgotten.”

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