BROMSGROVE para table tennis star Craig Allen revelled in rubbing shoulders with three British sporting heroes after being singled out to attend a special Parliamentary Reception hosted by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson at the House of Lords.

Allen’s table tennis career is supported by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid, and the talented sportsman was one of 15 athletes hand-picked to attend the celebratory event in Westminster.

Grey-Thompson, an 11-time Paralympic champion, was joined by former Olympic champion Mohamed Sbihi and five-time Paralympic medallist Natasha Baker at the reception that celebrated the impact of SportsAid and Entain’s funding in transforming young careers.

And the Bromsgrove ace, agrd 26, who picked up international medals in Mexico, Romania and Spain on a globetrotting tour in his Class 9 category, said: “SportsAid and Entain have definitely been useful.

Craig Allen in action. Picture Sportsbeat.

Craig Allen in action. Picture Sportsbeat.

“During Covid, SportsAid and Entain put on a number of things for us to do on zoom, like having conversations with athletes like Moe.

“It helps in that sense because we can learn from their experiences. Even though none of us have been through anything like Covid before, if they've had injuries, it will be a similar experience - they won't be able to do the fitness or the training or being able to leave the house much.

“SportsAid and Entain have financially helped me and it’s been massive, not just in terms of financial support, but also in terms of them just putting things on for us and saying it's there if you want to take the opportunities.”

Allen, who grew up training at Arrow Vale Table Tennis Club, had the chance to mingle with the other SportsAid and Entain-supported athletes before listening to speeches from Grey-Thompson, Sbihi and Baker to cap a memorable two hours.

And Grey-Thompson, who racked up a stunning 16 Paralympic medals between Seoul 1988 and Athens 2004, said: "Sport is so important to British society - not just medal success, but giving young people that chance to be the best that they can be.

"My career and so much of what I did was based on the support I had from SportsAid, and it's amazing to see that support going back to young athletes going forward."

SportsAid alumni won a staggering 14 gold, 19 silver and 14 bronze medals for Team GB this summer while in the Paralympics, claimed 26 gold, 33 silver and 35 bronzes as the revolutionary impact of the funding was showcased on the biggest sporting stage.

Over 400 athletes across Team GB and ParalympicsGB in Tokyo had previously benefited from SportsAid funding and Baker, who scooped silver at Tokyo 2020, said: “I can remember receiving my first grant from SportsAid and it made a massive difference.

“Not just in a monetary sense, but it opens up a lot of doors and enables you to do things that you wouldn't have been able to do without that money.”

Rower Sbihi, who added bronze in the men’s eight to his coxless four glory in Rio, added: “Having the support and confidence in me through SportsAid helped me bridge that gap to the next level.

“I was able to represent GB as a junior and 18 years later, here I am sat talking to the young athletes.”

Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit to find out more.