Watch as 24-hour table tennis marathon honours friend's memory and raises over £1,000 for St Benedict’s Hospice

A Sunderland table tennis team have held a 24 hour table tennis marathon as a tribute to their friend and raise money for St Benedict’s Hospice in his memory.

Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 12:42 pm

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Table tennis enthusiast Alan Bickle, from Silksworth, sadly died from pancreatic cancer on April 13 after being cared for by St Benedict’s Hospice.

Graham Sleep, who is originally from Silksworth, decided to organise a 24 hour table tennis marathon at Hope Vineyard Church in the hopes of raising £500 for the hospice.

Graham Sleep (right) playing table tennis again Ken Tweedy. Picture by FRANk REID

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Graham wanted the challenge to be a fitting tribute to Alan, who not only played a key role in the league but in his local community as well.

The 56-year-old said: “A well-known individual, Alan lived his life for others through his youth work, pastoral roles in both his church and the local junior school, as well as the British Legion in the village and had a huge influence on many lives.

“Alan was also a keen sportsman, who played in the Sunderland & District Table Tennis League, until his health would no longer allow him. He followed our team on WhatsApp to the end, hence why the 24 hour marathon is so fitting.

“After giving so much of his life to everyone else, the marathon was a small part of what all of his friends in the Sunderland and District table tennis league can do for him.

Graham Sleep organised the event in honour of Alan.

"I am sure he would have been delighted to know our efforts this weekend will support local people, just like he devoted his life to doing.”

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Emma Heslington, from St Benedict’s Hospice, added: “We are so grateful to Graham, the team and local community for their outstanding efforts to raise money for the hospice.

“We are sending them lots of luck for their upcoming 24 hours of table tennis. Our supporters and donors are absolutely crucial.

"Each year our fantastic supporters raise vital funds to make sure that local people, who are living through the most worrying of times, are looked after and supported in a loving, dignified and caring way.”