GET Batty, the countywide scheme encouraging older people to play ping pong is gathering momentum. And senior citizens are grabbing a bat to test their topspin.

Get Batty launched last year and is being promoted by Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) in conjunction with partners such as Age UK Oxfordshire, to improve fitness and combat isolation amongst older people.

As well as help and support in forming ping pong clubs and classes, groups for the elderly are also being offered free table tennis equipment to get them started.

Last week, the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Bicester showcased its new table tennis group, which is running at Launton Sports & Social Club on Thursdays, and has been partly financed through a Red Nose grant secured through Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

Christine Cox, chairman of the U3A in Bicester said: “The University of the Third Age offers classes in everything from bridge to belly dancing, but up until now we have not had one in table tennis.

“Luckily, one of our new members, Stan Harding, is a table tennis coach and player and heard about Get Batty and possibly funding available to us.

“We put in an application and received money to buy our own table, and now we have a group of between 10 and 12 players who meet each week.”

Also enjoying a Get Batty knock-around last week were members of Kingsmoor Community Club, which meets at Hinton Waldrist Village Hall on Fridays.

Anna Hegley, Head of Age UK Oxfordshire’s Generation Games initiative, who ran the session said: “We have been touring the county and have already visited Berinsfield Day Centre, Oakwood Community Club in Faringdon, Wallingford Stroke Club and Lashbrook House Care Home in Henley, and the reaction has been great.”

Kingsmoor Club member Marion Holding, 62, and from Southmoor, tried the game for the first time.

She said: “I suffered a stroke just over a year ago and lost the use of my right arm. I wasn’t going to try table tennis but someone persuaded me and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.”

Businesses, individuals, groups, educational establishments or organisations providing services for older people interested in finding out more should email or call 01865 798666.