First bursaries ‘served’ up to table tennis champions, Bangor brothers Max and James

The first two athletes selected are representative table tennis players, and Bangor based brothers, Max (15) and James (16) Skelton. Both players, who play for Ormeau Table Tennis Club in East Belfast, have received a £500 bursary each.

Lady Mary Peters said: “Northern Ireland is fantastic at producing sporting talent and access to funding is vital. The dedication and hard work of these pre-elite athletes can often be underestimated so it is wonderful that Hughes Insurance is supporting the Mary Peters Trust. This bursary programme will go a long way in helping our selected athletes to reach their goals and I am delighted Max and James have been recognised – they are an excellent example of the dedication
and perseverance of all our young athletes.”

The brothers are currently in training for their next event – representing Ireland at the European Table Tennis Union’s European Youth Championships in Zagreb this coming July – a competition both are eager for as it was cancelled last summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has resulted in significant challenges for NI’s young sporting talent. Training sessions were cancelled, access to facilities restricted and competitions postponed. There is also a greater financial burden associated with being an athlete as private Covid testing must be carried out before and during any competitions or training camps.

Harriet McCandless, Senior Marketing Manager at Hughes Insurance said: “Our partnership with the Mary Peters Trust is a fantastic fit for us. We say we are ‘here for the journey’ of our customers, and we know how much work the Mary Peters Trust does to support athletes on their journeys. “It’s inspiring to meet the athletes and hear first-hand of the difficulties they’ve had to overcome in the last 12 months. We hope our support helps them continue their journey to reach their potential and we look forward to watching them develop in the years to come.”

The Mary Peters Trust is the only province-wide organisation to provide support to young athletes from all recognised sports.

To keep up to date with the selection, follow Hughes Insurance on social media, @hughesinsuranceni.