I first learnt to play what you might call "kitchen bridge" with my father when I was a teenager, but later in life I decided to learn bridge properly so I did 2 years of Mick Spencer's evening classes at West Suffolk College. I played with the U3A for a few years before feeling confident enough to join what was then Risbygate Bridge Club in 1997. When Mick decided to retire from teaching bridge for the College he asked me to take over (he knew I was a qualified teacher as I'd taught both his sons A level Physics). I did the EBU Teacher training course and started teaching bridge for West Suffolk College in September 2000.
When my first batch of students completed their 2 year course there was no evening club suitable for them to play at as both Risbygate (then Mondays only) and Bury Bridge Club (Thursday) were far too advanced. My Monday bridge partner, the late Alex Parker, and I decided to qualify as Directors in 2002 and start a more relaxed duplicate at Risbygate which Alex directed while I taught the next batch of College students and helped out at Risbygate in College holidays.
The original idea was that players would move up from Tuesday to Monday as they became more experienced, and some of them did, but many of them preferred to stay put, so Tuesday became both full to capacity and too advanced for novices, so I started Learn and Play sessions for improvers on Wednesday evenings at Risbygate. By then the government had removed all subsidies from non-vocational evening classes, so I'd decided to give up teaching for the College and do it in small groups in my home.
Eventually, Risbygate Bridge Club moved to Nowton Court and became Abbeygate Bridge Club, but the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday set-up continued as before, although Sherri Barton had taken over from Alex as director of Tuesday evenings.
Celia has written about her bridge teaching and the development of the club, click HERE to read