A pop-up ping-pong parlour in Harrogate town centre has been officially opened today (September 21) by a number of sporting celebrities.

Former Republic of Ireland international and Leeds United Manager, David O’Leary, Leeds Rhinos RFC & Leeds Tykes RUFC director, Gary Hetherington, Leeds Tykes Captain Jake Brady, and England Table Tennis Head Performance Coach, Matt Stanforth, were the first to take to the tables within Harrogate BID’s new indoor sports venue, located in Victoria Shopping Centre.

The pop-up ping-pong parlour, which will be open seven days a week during retail hours, boasts four tables for public use. As bats and balls will be provided, all that players need to do is bring an opponent.

The ping-pong parlour is the brainchild of BID board member and hotelier & restaurateur Bokmun Chan, who admits to ‘playing a bit and coaching a bit’ (of table tennis).

Bokmun said: “Thanks to Harrogate BID, a dream of mine to have a ping-pong parlour in Harrogate town centre is becoming a reality; it’s something I’ve been wanting to achieve for a number of years.

“I’m delighted that David, Gary, Jake and Matthew officially opened the parlour for us. We were also joined by local table tennis players from Harrogate Racquets Club and Harrogate Spa Table Tennis Club.

“Table tennis is a great sport and anyone can play it, no matter how young or how old. Whilst I’ve not played for a few years, table tennis is a game that I absolutely love. I played at University level, and when my daughter was in her teens, she played for England.

“This parlour is for the public to use, free of charge. All we ask is that if there are a lot of people wanting to play, then please be sensible and don’t hog the tables too long. Give others a chance.”

Harrogate BID Manager Matthew Chapman said: “This is another initiative of ours to bring people into Harrogate town centre, and one that also has a health benefit.

“In the school summer holidays we staged our first Harrogate Lego model trail, which was a huge success. This week, we are sponsoring Harrogate Beer Week, and now we have opened a pop-up ping-pong parlour, all aimed at attracting different audiences.

“The ping-pong parlour is also bringing an empty shop unit back to life and will be in situ until Christmas.”

James White, Victoria Shopping Centre Manager, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this pop-up ping-pong parlour. In addition to shopping, eating and drinking, playing a game of table tennis is another great reason to come into Harrogate town centre.

“Working with the BID on another fantastic promotion is proof that working together with other stakeholders can make a real difference.

“I am grateful to Bokmun Chan and Matthew Chapman for their work on this project and all of the other things the BID has done to make a marked difference in the town centre.”