FREE ping pong will be on offer in Christchurch later this month thanks to a lottery-funded scheme launched by a local group.

Transition Town Christchurch (TTC) have bought a full-size wheelchair-friendly table tennis table for the Druitt Hall, in the High Street, after securing £480 from the National Lottery as part of the nationwide Ping! scheme.

The group hope that residents, inspired by the London 2012 Olympics this Summer, will use the opportunity to take up bats and balls and keep fit.

Anne Mason, chairman of TTC, said: “We are delighted to have secured the funding for such a terrific scheme. It has taken a lot of hard work to achieve and we are looking forward to the table arriving in a couple of weeks.

“For now we are organising sessions between noon and 3pm on Mondays, which will be convenient for older people and market shoppers, but we are also looking at having sessions on Saturday mornings for younger players.

“There are a lot of older people around Christchurch who might have played table tennis when they were younger and fancy giving it another go, and in fact our local University of the Third Age group has a thriving ping pong team.”

The group has received more than 100 messages of support for the scheme through a collection box at the hall.

James Woods, from the English Table Tennis Association, which runs the Ping! programme with Sport England, added: “It is all about making table tennis available to everyone free of charge.

“The main benefits come from being active, it is a low impact sport and great exercise which makes it good for older players as well as young, and it is a great way to meet people.”