Our Directors

Our Directors

The founding Directors of the Association are Karen Mitchell and Frank Arico.  Their appointments as Directors was approved by the Membership at the 23.8.19 AGM.

The Articles of Association stipulate a requirement of a minimum of 2 directors and a maximum of 9 which includes a Director from each Region.

Elaine Shallcross and Sam Basford’s Regional  Directors appointments were confirmed at the 23.8.19 AGM. Sam’s was reconfirmed 27.11.22.

James Chaudry became a Strategy and Development Advisor for PbE in February 2021 and was formally invited to join the board in December 2021.

Val Vladea and Richard Thom’s Regional Directors appointments were confirmed at 6.11.21 Board Meeting (as uncontested).  

Karen Mitchell

Karen retired in 2014 following a 35 year career with American Express.
Her background is in Marketing, New Product Development and Business Development.

She was part of the Senior Management Committee for her business organisation and has led large global teams.

Since retiring Karen has been the Booking Secretary for her local village hall. She is an active participant on the Committee and has additional responsibility for their website and data privacy.

Karen took up pickleball in 2015 and introduced her husband Chris to the game later that year. Karen & Chris started Pickleball in Eastbourne (PIE) in 2016. They now have 3 drop in sessions a week. In early 2018 they both got Level 1 IPTPA Certification so that they could reassure new players they were qualified to teach them how to play. Karen & Chris are both regular attendees at European Tournaments.

Karen was encouraged by players to establish pickleballEngland to increase awareness of pickleball and drive growth of the game. She decided to accept the challenge when Frank indicated he was happy to partner her in the goal!

Karen is currently the Chair of pickleballEngland and is on the World Pickleball Federation’s Board of Directors.

You can email Karen at karen@pickleballengland.org

Frank Arico

Originally from South Africa, Frank moved to the UK in 2005 after living in Chicago for 4 years.
Frank is a retired entrepreneur with a Finance, Accounting and IT background.
In 2008 Frank sold his business interests in the international software company he owned.

Frank has had a lifelong involvement in sport both as a player and administrator achieving National colours for Clay Pigeon Shooting in 1985 for South Africa and in 2016 for England.

As an administrator, Frank has served at Club, National and International level, currently being a Director of the National Skeet Shooting Association in the USA which is the world governing body.

Frank started playing Pickleball in 2016 at Runnymede Royals and started the Camberley U3A Pickleball Group in 2017. In 2018 he won Bronze medals in the Mixed Doubles in Amsterdam, the Men’s Doubles Outdoor tournament in Ramsgate and the World SSIPA Championships in Denton, Texas.

On the strength of Karen’s enthusiasm and commitment to the challenge of setting up an NGB for Pickleball, Frank decided to volunteer his time and energy to the success of this project.

Frank’s goal, through instruction and coaching of our players, is the promotion of our sport through the reported success in the media of our teams and individuals. This will generate the desire in others to take up Pickleball, whether it be just as a social pastime or to be a top performer.

You can email Frank at frank@pickleballengland.org

Meet our Regional Directors

We currently have two open Regional Director positions – one in the North East and one in the South West.  We will be requesting nominations for these positions shortly.

In the meantime, if you have any queries you would have directed to your Regional Director, please email karen@pickleballengland.org

Elaine Shallcross - North West Region

Worked in sports sector for over 30 years, teaching as a coach and in sports development. Introduced pickleball to the North West of England, setting up numerous clubs and sessions. Set up the North West Pickleball Festival and NW Restricted Tournament. Tournament Director & Organiser of the Inaugural Thailand Open. Played in pickleball tournaments in Asia, Europe and USA. Career Highlights: Chaired Lancashire Sport Development Forum; Supported Manchester Olympic bid, then Commonwealth Games bid, particularly focussed on volunteer recruitment and training. Experience of lottery funding applications, accessing community funding; creating sports pathways, partnerships, sports research. Elaine recently created the Pickleball Leaders Certification course. You can email Elaine at elaine@pickleballengland.org

Sam Basford

Sam Basford - West Midlands Region

Sports Knowledge & Experience: - Played Pickleball for 2.5 Years; Competed in Europe & America winning multiple medals. Currently organising the English OPEN & Completing IPTPA Level II Teaching Course. Played Tennis & Table Tennis at County level. Set up and run Warwickshire Pickleball Club. Career: Student at University of Nottingham Working at PWC over next 3 years Experience of working on Boards and/or as a Director: - Co-Director of English OPEN - On PEC UK Committee which runs Milton Keynes Pickleball Festival & Young Persons Championship. You can email Sam at sam@pickleballengland.org

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: val@pickleballengland.org

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:  richardthoms@pickleballengland.org

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).