There had been little promotion of Duplicate Bridge to the community in Rushcliffe and to the surrounding areas for some time. Member numbers had been falling and our age profile has been increasing. In the autumn of 2017 a number of club members formulated a plan to share the responsibilities and develop a plan as it would be an onerous task for any one club to develop and support.
Four clubs in South Nottinghamshire (East Bridgford, Keyworth, Phoenix and West Bridgford, all EBU affiliated) plus the Nottinghamshire Contract Bridge Association recently agreed to co-operate and develop a detailed plan to promote Duplicate Bridge plus new training courses based on EBU/EBED Fast Track training material designed for beginners. In addition, the SNOTTY group offer progressions for students to improver classes or full sessions at local clubs. The group also has the full support of the EBU and has also developed a targeted communication plan of posters and limited advertising to stimulate interest, awareness and demand through initial “open day” events. The programme has commenced with advertisement in ten local newspapers, over 200 posters and over 5000 hits on Facebook during December.
The campaign promoted two Bridge Open Mornings early in January. Both events were successful with over 70 people attending. Our first course for beginners is fully subscribed with 16 trainees starting in February. We have around another 12 people who are interested in further weekend or evening training sessions. In addition around 8 people have started to come to regular club sessions and return to bridge.
This programme has been attractive to new members who do not want to travel far, want daytime sessions and to enable some to meet new friends and help people to improve their lives, even for some to even return to community events and activities. Our plan has the support of the NHS Care in the Community programme within Rushcliffe, offering inclusion through pastimes, hobbies and pursuits.
We hope that this will be the beginning of a long term initiative to introduce people to bridge and the benefits it offers, at the same time increasing club membership, session attendance and revenues. All the effort so far has been done on a voluntary basis with surplus revenue generated being reinvested in local bridge promotion and training events in the future.