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Welcome to Afternoon Bridge Club

Tribute to our friend John
  • John plans his strategy - March 2011
  • John in mask
  • John with beer at cricket
  • John with Carole
  • John with Ezra

Everybody at ABC loved John Copson who has died, aged 81, of complications following cancer surgery.

Despite never joining the committee he worked tirelessly for the club for years; arriving early, leaving late, putting out tables and scoring the bridge, alongside his friend John Bradley who said he would be sorely missed:

“I always enjoyed our sessions before the game,” he said.  One of my memories is of us setting up tables, hoping we weren’t going to be the only two who turned up!

“I shall miss him and the club will miss him and his friendly face when people walked in. We always appreciated the effort he made.”

Chairman Sarah Chamberlin said: “John Copson was the best club member we could ever hope to have. He was kind, courteous and very much a gentleman. He was just such a lovely chap. Everyone loved him. I don’t think we could have had anyone nicer.”

Val Bobbins agrees. “John was the kindest, most thoughtful, caring person. A real gentleman in every sense of the word. I will miss him so much as my bridge partner and friend.”

She knows he was disappointed with support for the face-to-face sessions post-Covid and would like to think that could be rectified in coming months in John’s memory.

As Jan Wells put it: “There are some people that you bump into in your daily life and feel better just for seeing them and John was one of those!”

My personal anecdote demonstrating John’s thoughtful, caring nature dates back to 2017 when I fell and broke my hip. We both lived in Little Melton at the time. The moment I could totter in from the car park post-surgery John provided a taxi service to and from the club twice a week for a month until I was allowed to drive again.

Outside bridge John’s world revolved around his adored family.

His son, retired Norwich GP Dr Steven Copson, describes his Dad as his hero, his inspiration:

“His was a life well lived. He made the most of it. I grew up wanting to be my Dad. He made the lives of people he met better. We’re all very proud of him.”

Steve tells how John was born in 1941 in a village called Frolesworth in Leicestershire on a mixed farm, which supplied the family market garden and stall on Nuneaton Market which he later helped to run.

John initially attended a tiny one classroom village school but, when he was eight, an educational psychologist found he was functioning at the age of 11½ with an IQ of 157 so he was sent to board at a nearby grammar school in Ashby-de-la Zouch where he loved playing cricket and football.

He took A levels early but didn’t like the university Chemistry course he started aged 17 and went home – at which point a pretty acquaintance called Carole inadvertently dropped her college books, just as he was passing! They married in 1961 when John was 20.

John and Carole joined his parents on the farm where Steve was born, followed by his sister Sally in 1965. But John wanted a new challenge so, in 1968, his grandparents sold up and bought a scruffy shop and post office in Hundon, Suffolk.  It was there that John’s younger daughter Tori appeared in 1971.

Over 18 years he transformed the village shop and post office into a thriving business - a bit ahead of its time with its delicatessen, paper round, little off licence and fresh fruit and vegetables.

But by then weekly trips to supermarkets loomed on the horizon and the writing was on the wall for village shops so John started working for a friend of his in engineering business Metcraft of Haverhill. He was its General Manager by the time he retired.

It was then that he and Carole moved to Norfolk, by which time Steve was a GP in Norwich and Tori was studying law and had got work experience in a city firm where she later worked. Their sister Sally was teaching in Suffolk, not too far away.

“I think I owe my career as a GP to Dad,” said Steve. My 6th form tutor, being realistic, thought I wasn’t up to it. But Dad believed in us all and told me to have a go and said it didn’t matter if I didn’t make it.

“He was a young Dad and a wonderful Dad and my friends all thought he was cool. My earliest and favourite memories are probably of him playing with us in the garden.

“And then of just helping out – I had a lovely childhood. If I was at a loose end he’d always give me a bit of pocket money for stacking shelves or pricing things up in the shop.

By the time I was a teenager he was only in his early 30s which meant we grew up playing golf and cricket together.

“We were friends. He involved me in everything he did. He was very bright and able and could talk to anybody. At school he played bridge as well as chess and, all his life, whatever he got involved in, he ended up organising.

“I know how much his bridge meant to him and how much his friends at the bridge club meant to him. He felt very kindly towards you all.

“Bridge was something he loved. I remember him playing at Bury St Edmunds on a Monday night from the early to mid-70s and buying books on bidding systems. I was a great disappointment to him! We all played whist but bridge was far too complicated for me!”

The EDP notice describes John as a wonderful husband to Carole, father to Steve, Sally and Tori, grandad to Sam, Grace, Joe, Harriet, Evie, Tom and Ed – and great grandad to Ezra whose photo is above.

His expressed wish was for a private funeral with family flowers only but he received exceptional care from the Uro-oncology team at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital where he died on 9 February 2023. If anyone wishes to make a donation to N&N Hospitals Charity in his memory this can be done online at or via Allcock Family Funeral Services, Falcon House, 96a City Road, Norwich NR1 2HD telephone 01603 766996

Jane Scarfe

Bridge Weekend in Great Yarmouth in June

John and Sarah Barker from the Great Yarmouth Bridge School will be running a Holiday at the Palm Court Burlington Hotel on the Seafront in Great Yarmouth from Sunday 11th June 2023.  Details Below. At present we have 6 Tables. No Partner needed as John and Sarah are both always on Standby.

We have managed to book the Palm Court Hotel this year in June at a very keen price, and when hopefully the Weather will be Warm.

The Holiday starts on Sunday 11th June 2023 until Friday 16th June or Sunday 18th June 2023.

Holidays are being offered either for the Week, or 5 Nights.

There are no single supplements for Rooms, and the Holiday is for Dinner, Bed and Breakfast and the Opportunity to play 2 Games of Bridge a day if you wish. Included in the Price are Prizes, and Staff Gratuities.

The Hotel is situated perfectly on the Great Yarmouth Seafront, opposite the Waterways, and on the Golden Mile.  All the Tourist Attractions - Crazy Golf, Rowing on the Boating Lake, The Cinema, The Pleasure Beach are a Short Walk away. Other Attractions include The Time and Tide Museum, The Sealife Centre, A Trip On The Norfolk Broads, and lots of Flat Local Walks.

Last Year we had 9 Tables in October, and we are hoping to get similar numbers.

Price per Person for  5 Nights is  £380,  7 Nights is £530. Free Parking at the Hotel.

If you would like more Information or you would like to book (Deposit of £50.00 required).  Please call us on 01493 309033 or 07767 864575.

Thank you very much for all your support, and would love to see you joining us in Great Yarmouth in June.

John and Sarah

NCBA ..... forthcoming County Events

Not an NCBA event,  but The Great Yarmouth Bridge School are running a blue pointed Swiss Pairs on Saturday 17 June.  For more information contact John Barker at, or try their website

 On 25th June the NCBA are running the Mills Knight and Broke Trophies for mixed and married pairs; this event is online. For more information go to the NCBA's website  Norfolk Contract Bridge Association, Norfolk, England (



ABC Away - Return of the Champions!

Just for a long weekend Team Norfolk felt world class, sweeping all bridge opponents before us - including, on one occasion, the trip organiser. He didn't relish that but we did!

We're talking about the first ABC Away since BC (before Covid) when Val Bobbins, Jan Pooley, Sue Falgate and I (Jane Scarfe) gallivanted off to the four star Wroxton House Hotel near Banbury for a long weekend of bridge, Sauvignon, seriously tasty nosh, rural strolls, cultural enhancement and retail therapy at Bicester Village. I'm extremely jealous incidentally that Jan spotted that green leather backpack handbag before I did and unfortunately they only had one of them. Not that I'm bitter, or anything.

But you're interested in the bridge. Lots of sessions morning and evening and the life-enhancing experience was that, although they all seemed to be club players, most presumably attended clubs where the standard was a bit lower than ABC. So, while we didn't completely sweep the board, especially after all that Sauvignon for which the other three are, obviously, completely responsible, at least one pair out of our two came top or second virtually every session. Aided by the fact that there tended to be separate North and South results. Needless to say I lapped that up, especially bearing in mind my typical performance round here! laugh

All I can say is a huge thank you, as always, to Val Bobbins for researching options and organising the weekend and, next year, let's turn that fabulous four into a super six, an elevated eight or even ABC's Top Ten!

There will be a photo. Shortly. It's like this. There are two virtually identical snaps of the four of us in front of our favourite spot in the hotel, the cocktail bar. In one of them I have my eyes closed. In the other Val has her eyes closed. Would you believe, despite my being website editor and writing this piece, Val isn't having the shot with her eyes shut on the website. So we are awaiting the good graces of the Photoshop jockey to enhance reality.

Are we nearly there yet?

Every parent's unfavourite question from little voices on the back car seats now keeps cropping up in bridge clubs, schools, homes, hospitals and workplaces. Is Covid finally on the way out? Are we nearly there yet?

ABC Chairman Sarah Chamberlin said: “It’s such a joy to see people and catch up. I really hope that clubs like ours will take off again in 2022, especially as we play in the afternoons.”

With most restrictions now lifted – whether or not you agree with the timing - we thought it right to update you on what's happening at ABC and how the past nearly two years have affected the club. 

Well, we are still here playing online via RealBridge on a Wednesday afternoon and Face-to-Face at the Costessey Centre on Thursday afternoons. Wednesday numbers are reasonable – averaging over nine tables during January. Face-to-Face is more disappointing and so far we are not covering costs, which is not a situation which can continue indefinitely.

The Stafford Hall is huge and airy and an ideal location for returning as safely as possible to Face-to-Face bridge. We play with windows open. Why not give it a try and see how you feel about it? Omicron appears to be peaking and we are optimistic that, week on week, more of us will feel confident enough to meet again.

Also most of us have taken to playing RealBridge during Covid and we have every intention of continuing to play online on Wednesday afternoons. The great advantage is that people can join us from anywhere in the country – or indeed the world. We can now claim to be ABC International with members in Sri Lanka and those who join us from their holiday homes in Portugal, France and the Canary Islands!

People have been playing and joining from Yorkshire, Kent, Essex, Warwickshire and Peterborough. Not only that, much-loved club members who have moved away like Paul and Sue Hutchings are able to join us regularly from Sussex.

Getting Back to Bridge

It can all feel rather daunting.

Some of us, for whatever reason, didn't take to playing bridge online. With lockdown and shielding that might mean you haven't picked up a card for two years. 

We understand. And we hope we've come up with a solution to ease you back gently into the game we love. The ABC committee has members on standby to partner you and help you get your confidence back up again. It's like riding a bike. Give it a try and it will all come back to you - and we promise not to get impatient if it's a slow process!

Just go to the bottom right Find a Partner item on this page and say you need a Back to Bridge partner.

7th June 2023
Peter Falgate Trophy
RealBridge 1.30pm
8th June 2023
Club Pairs
Costessey Centre 1.30pm
14th June 2023
Club Pairs
RealBridge 1.30pm
15th June 2023
Club Pairs
Costessey Centre 1.30pm
Summer Trophy (3)
Director: Gillain Hall
Scorer: Michael Sabberton
Club Pairs
Scorer: Jane Scarfe
Club Pairs
Director: Peter Coates
Scorer: Michael Sabberton
Club Pairs 24 May 23
Competition Winners

Peter Falgate Trophy - Paul King & Madeleine Harris

ABC Open Pairs Trophy - Val Bobbins & John Copson

Summer Trophy - Chris Mallon & Gillian Hall

Wendy Gee Charity Pairs - Ben Roberts & Carol Lippert

Chairman's Trophy - joint first; Val Bobbins & Jan Pooley and Paul King & Madeleine Harris

Individual Competition - Bogdan Drobny  (runner up Madeleine Harris)

Pairs Competition - Bogdan Drobny & Karen Read (runners up Madeleine Harris & Paul King)

Winter Trophy - Gary Putman & Peter Cotes

Individual Handicap - Barbara Baker (joint runners up Mary Hendrie and Merri Ryan)



* MORE* Masterpoint promotions

Congratulations to ABC members  who are celebrating EBU masterpoint rank promotions in May. Well done to:

John Dennis Life Master
Nicki Cann 1 Star Master

Added to our existing recent roll of honour:


Paddy Seligman 3 Star Master
Graham Hardman  7 Star Regional Master

Paul Hutchings  1 Star Master

Bob Browne  Club Master
Carol Browne  Club Master

Chris Mallon  Premier National Master
Penelope Stroud  1 Star Regional Master
Gabriel Ip  Grand Master
David Gill  2 Star Master
Jane De La Tour  1 Star Master
Romesh Bandaranaike  Club Master
Rasika Karunatilake  Club Master


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The Afternoon Bridge Club is affiliated to the EBU and the NCBA (Norfolk Contract Bridge Association).