Aylsham & North Walsham Bridge Circle was started in 2000 by Ann Melville to introduce her Adult Education students to Duplicate Bridge before playing in other local established clubs. Several bridge players including Janet Bartram, Ray & Yvonne Knott and Steve & Margaret Arrowsmith came along to help with the scoring and running of the sessions. Initially we met on Thursday afternoons, playing a leisurely eighteen boards and receiving various plants, chocolates and pens as prizes. By 2002 the group were able to play more boards per session, we changed to Thursday evenings, joined the EBU and started to issue Master Points.
In 2003 a second group was formed meeting at Aylsham Lodge Hotel on Monday mornings at 10.00 am. After the initial shock of playing cards on a Monday morning the group grew in size as new students joined from the classes and other more experienced players from the local area rearranged their lives and came to see what we were doing at the Motel on a Monday morning. Most of the visitors stayed, they were very helpful to the beginners and we now have a group of over a hundred well established players. Unfortunately we had to leave the Motel in 2007 and move to Banningham Village Hall but after some initial teething problems with the heating system, the refreshments and car parking it proved to be a popular venue. We now have a lovely tea lady, Diane, who looks after our refreshments at both groups, the heating has improved and we are on the way to resurfacing part of the field behind the hall to use as a car park. Unfortunately we do not have any photographs but many of us remember the day that we got 'stuck in the mud.'
We have always tried to encourage the social side of the group with trips to Norwich Theatre Royal, Thursford 'Last Night of the Proms', Norwich City College Debut Restaurant and Notcutts Garden Centre. We have had three long-weekend breaks at Coventry Hilton at the end of August. This has proved to be very popular with between fifty and sixty members playing Bridge, visiting Coventry Cathedral, going to the muliplex cinema and 'driving each other nuts' with Peter's puzzles.
During the past eight years we have held several Charity Bridge Drives raising money for Macmillan Nurses, National Heart Foundation, Lupus Research, Air Ambulance and other local charities. We also send money on a regular basis to Lemure Village in Malawi to provide the children with one free meal each day when they attend the local school. Sharon, who makes our Birthday cards, also sends the profit from the cards to Malawi. She has visited the area so has first hand experience of the childrens needs. In "Fun Stuff" there is a picture of the "Lemure Village Children" from Malawi.
Our group remains "No Fear" so that we can accomodate future students, less experienced players and "Rubber Bridge" players who might like to try Duplicate Bridge. Players of all abilities are welcome to join us but they must be sympathetic to less experienced players. The play may be gentler than one might expect to find in a regular Bridge Club.
It is now 2017 and the "Aylsham & North Walsham Bridge Circle" is still meeting twice a week at the Aylsham Lodge Hotel on Monday and Thursday mornings. Not only do we accommodate players new to the game but we also have many mature members who prefer to play in the daytime rather than the evenings. We also have a dining club at the motel on both days where you can have two courses for £5.50 and a social chat with fellow bridge players.
Starting in 2009 we have had "Away Days" four times each year at the Holiday Inn in Norwich. Between sixteen and twenty tables of Bridge players meeting for a social day out with Bridge, lunch and raffles etc.....(see the many photographs on our website).