On 3 March, Derbyshire's Ripley Bridge Club were pleased to welcome Krys Kazmierczak, the Club Liaison Officer from the EBU, during his around the clubs tour, when he joined members at the Riddings Park Community Centre for a consultation with the Club Committee and volunteers followed by an evening's play.
Ripley Bridge Club continues to go from strength to strength, supported by 10-17 tables three times a week across three venues within a three-mile radius. In recent years the club has made considerable investments, acquiring a Duplimate dealing machine and the BridgeMate electronic scoring system plus laptop, giving members access to instant results at every session and via the club's website. This has been achieved whilst maintaining an all-in table fee of £1.50 per session including the EBU's pay-to-play and refreshments.
Since its commencement in 1956 on the initiative of the late Ernest Burston, subsequent incorporation of the first Pentrich beginners' group and influx of members from the former Alfreton Bridge Club, RBC's membership has grown to around the 150 mark. The greatest increase, however, has been due to another initiative that of Philip Upton, whose Beginners and Improvers group has dramatically increased the popularity of bridge in Ripley and the surrounding area.
A minor stroke in 1996 led to Phil's early retirement from a career in managerial training. His recovery was aided by involvement in Bridge for All the following year, and Phil became a full member of the EBU Teachers Association (EBUTA) in 1999, when he also resurrected beginners' classes at RBC's Pentrich club night. Interest in a daytime session brought about a small morning beginners class in a Ripley community lounge, which quickly became immensely popular, necessitating a move to the larger Pentrich venue where the Wednesday Morning beginners and improvers still meet. This session has developed with people joining from teaching sessions and from other areas, including a few who prefer not to drive after dark. The format involves an introductory lecture based on the previous week's play, drawing for partners, and play with the emphasis on helping each other to improve bidding and play. Phil insists on a friendly atmosphere disruptive elements are eliminated! From the outset he has been aided and abetted by Jean Hough, who mentors during the practice sessions whilst Phil coaches beginners. Currently, there are over 80 attending the Wednesday Morning group on an as and when basis, some graduating to Thursday and in time to Monday club nights.
Improving players have also joined in the twice-yearly Ripley Revellers away weekends organised by club members to places of interest within 2-3 hours' travel with, of course, a few bridge sessions for good measure. The most recent weekend in Hereford was supported by 50 members including guests from neighbouring clubs.
In recognition of his services to bridge and to Ripley Bridge Club in particular, Phil Upton was made a Life Member at the Annual General Meeting on 16 May 2011.
Ripley Bridge Club meets on Monday evenings at St. Joseph's Hall, Ripley, on Wednesday mornings at Pentrich Village Hall and on Thursday evenings at Riddings Park Community Centre.
For further information about Ripley Bridge Club contact Alan Kenny or 01773-603843.
Further information on the club can also be found at their home page.