An Ayrshire man who took up table tennis to help cope with the symptoms of Parkinson's disease is now set to play at the World Championships in Rome.

Steve Morley, 62, from Stevenston, used to play the sport as a teenager. But he didn't take it up again until some time after he developed Parkinson's.

The symptoms of the incurable disease, which sadly worsen over the years, include involuntary shaking and stiff and inflexible muscles.

So taking up a sport after a gap of more than 40 years might seem strange to some.

But playing table tennis five days a week has proved a game-changer for Steve.

He now plays across North Ayrshire, including at Ardrossan, West Kilbride, Irvine, Saltcoats and Largs, as well as at Parkinson's specific sessions in Mossblown, Dunlop and Drumchapel.

Ayrshire Today: ITTF & ITTF Foundation President – Petra Sörling, Steve Morley, Agnes Jan, ITTF Foundation Director – Leandro OlvechITTF & ITTF Foundation President – Petra Sörling, Steve Morley, Agnes Jan, ITTF Foundation Director – Leandro Olvech (Image: ITTF)

The former economic development and regeneration officer for North Ayrshire Council noticed the first signs of Parkinson's, a lack of arm swing when walking, while on holiday in Crete in September 2017.

He said: "I was diagnosed in October 2018 and took up table tennis again three years ago. It is a quick reaction sport.

"My symptoms are not too bad right now but I have problems walking. You get bad patches and good patches.

"People ask me if playing table tennis makes a difference. To be honest, I don't know if it would be worse if I wasn't playing it. But my partner says if I don't play for a few days, my symptoms do get worse."

He added: "Three of us who took up the sport played in a championship for Parkinson's in Crete in November. There were over 100 players taking part.

"After that, the International Table Tennis Foundation (ITTF) wanted to send some representatives with Parkinson's to the World Masters, a regular tournament for veterans over 40.

"In they end, they decided who would go to Rome by organising a raffle, and I was one of the two winners, alongside Agnes Jan."

Ayrshire Today: Steve Morley

They will join other players from around the world affected by Parkinson's to compete among more than 6,000 athletes from July 6-14.

Steve said: "We are not playing for Scotland in the tournament, but we are representing the ITTF in it, and I'm really looking forward to it.

"People used to think Parkinson's was a death sentence, but there's a lot of support out there now, helping people getting back into being active.

"There are now classes for Parkinson's sufferers in Mossblown and Dunlop, and KA Leisure in North Ayrshire have been really helpful too."

He continued: "It's a very addictive sport and there are a lot of players locally. The North Ayrshire Table Tennis Club play out of St Matthew's Academy and are in the top league, the British Premier."

After Rome, Steve has a target closer to home. He will be playing in the second Scottish Parkinson's International Open which will be held in Largs on August 10 and 11.

If you would like to find out more about table tennis for Parkinson's sufferers in Ayrshire, the South Ayrshire Table Tennis Club meets in Mossblown Community Hall on Saturdays from 10am to noon. For more details, contact Roy Claxton at

The East Ayrshire Table Tennis Club meets in Dunlop Village Hall on Fridays from 3-5pm. For more details contact Martin Oestmann at

You can also donate to help Steve on his incredible journey to Rome by visiting: