Meet our new Regional Directors

A few months ago we invited applications/nominations for two Regional Director roles that had been left vacant by Stan Johnson (NE) and Roberto Rospo (SW).

We are thrilled to announce that we had quality nominations from both regions.  As there were only one nomination for each region, the Board met to ratify the appointments on 6th November.  We are sure that Val and Richard are going to make an impact in their respective regions.  The Board would also like to introduce you to our valued Secretary, Guy Herzmark (below).

Val Vladea - North East Regional Director

Sport knowledge and experience including pickleball:

“I have played sports my entire life but mainly tennis.  Played in college in the USA and then coached since 2005. I took up pickleball relatively recently but have already started my own club, certified as a Pickleball Leader and won two medals at the English Nationals in August.”

Skills & Experience:

“Have coached full time since 2005, college coach and ran my own tennis program in the States.  Moved to the UK in 2014 and taught tennis and worked in Admin at a private school before taking on my current role with Wilson.  Have experience and currently manage budgets, negotiate deals, work with different companies and organisation and manage coaches, players and parents.  Therefore organisation and time management are key.  Being a coach has helped me understand that when people come to play a sport it is their time to have fun and relax while getting better and some exercise.”

Experience of working on Boards and/or as a Director?

I am currently on the Board for the TIA via Wilson.

What would you like to see pbE achieve during your term?

“I would love to see the sport being played by a lot more people.  Would love to see the North East hosting leagues and tournaments and having people talk about it in all walks of life”.


You can contact Val via email:

Richard Thoms - South West Regional Director

Sport knowledge and experience including pickleball:

“I have played lots of sports including badminton, tennis, football, rugby, ice hockey, softball and basketball!  I have also coached kids/adults ice hockey.  I have been playing pickleball for 4 years, managing a club for 2.5 years. 1.5 years ago I became certified level 1 IPTPA coach and this summer I received my Pickleball Leaders certification.  I have been supporting the roll out of pickleball at 3 David Lloyd venues.”

Skills & Experience:

IT Project Manager with a global remit for CooperVision Int Ltd.  15+ years experience in IT in various roles. Managed multiple large scale (up to $5M) developments in numerous geographical locations.

Experience of working on Boards and/or as a Director?

Club Manager Solent Spartans Ice Hockey Club

Treasurer Basingstoke Hyenas Ice Hockey Club

Club Manager SHPC

IT Support for Gosport BMX Club

What would you like to see pbE achieve during your term?

National Governing Body Status; 25,000 members; Club and Venue network throughout the SW; established Leagues in all regions; established coaching programme.

You can contact Richard via email:

Meet our Board Secretary - Guy Herzmark

Guy volunteered to be our Secretary since it’s formation and has attended most of our Board meetinsg.  The Board gratefully acknowledges the vital role he has played in documenting our meetings.  Guy has agreed to continue to perform this role and has also agreed to take on the additional responsibility of scheduling the meetings.  I am not sure Guy understands how difficult that new addition to his role will be but the Board is glad to retain his services and input.  


“I started to play pickleball in 2015 with little experience of ball games since school. Soon I was going to festivals and events and competing with some success in national and international competitions.  Starting from scratch has helped me understand how people who have not played ball games in adult life can learn to love pickleball.”

Career details including business skills and experiences:

“A graduate in mathematics and psychology, I worked for 30 years in my own business providing analytic and policy advice to clients mainly in the NHS such as Government or agencies of Government.  My work included service evaluation and needs assessment.”

Experience of working on Boards:

“I have been Secretary to the pbE Board of Directors since its formation and since 2020 Secretary to the planning group for the World Pickleball Games.  For the last 15 years I have chaired the Management Group of my Allotment Association and raised significant sums from external sources to help develop the site”

What would you like pbE to achieve?

The first objective must be to complete pbE accreditation with Sport England.  This is a vital step towards growing the game nationally.  The next key task is helping to spread the game more widely and and increasing the numbers of players, clubs and pbE members in each region. pbE also needs to ensure that the information it holds on clubs and individuals is up to date (e.g. through an annual review process).