Bookham Afternoon Bridge Club
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Chairman's Speech
Chairman's Speech (Neil Higgins)

Good afternoon – It is so wonderful to see so many familiar faces joining together here today to celebrate 50 successful years of bridge.

We will shortly be proposing a toast to celebrate this golden anniversary and so I want to make sure that everyone has a drink – for those who don’t wish for something alcoholic there is sparkling elderflower or apple so please make sure that you all have a glass.

Back in 1968 a group of aspiring bridge players met to receive classes. This was so successful that in March 1969, members of an afternoon Surrey County Council Bridge Class came together to make arrangements for starting an afternoon bridge club here at the Barn Hall. Mrs Medway spoke to the bridge class about the proposals. Twenty six members of the class expressed an interest in the club.  A committee was formed. Mrs C Medway was Chairman, Mrs Youngman (Vice Chairman, Mr Buckley (treasurer) and Mrs Fell (Secretary). It was proposed that the club would play every Monday from 1 30 pm to 5 30 pm except the first Monday of the Month when the Bookham Flower Group meets, and instead the club would play on the Thursday.  So not much changes there.

Entry fee was 10 shillings with annual subscription 30 shillings. Table money 6d tea and biscuits an additional 6d. Only rubber bridge was played, for 1 penny per 100 with respect for those who wished to play for less or nothing. By June 1969 there were 19 members.

At the first AGM in September 1970 it was agreed that “membership be limited to 80 but relatives of a member permanently residing in the same house and of a sufficient standard of play may be accepted over the limit

Over the years much has changed, meetings are now held on every Monday and Thursday, Chicago bridge was replaced by duplicate firstly split between the two but then completely turning to duplicate. At one time new members were played in at the Chairman’s House. Boards became pre dealt, scoring machines brought in, membership numbers increased, parking problems persisted. But yet also not much has changed- we still have tea and biscuits and above all still play in a warm, friendly and welcoming environment. All of that would not have been possible without the many contributions of members which have been so freely given.

We all owe a big vote of thanks to anyone who has contributed in whatever way to the success of the club. To those who have served on committees as Chairman, secretary, treasurer or committee member. To those who volunteer as scorers and directors ensuring a smooth and efficient running of each session, to those who pre deal the hands giving up so freely of their time, to those who bring in new innovation, and a big vote of thanks to Jim Tate who researched and implemented the bridgmates which changed exponentially the quality of the playing sessions and available information and analysis , to those who ensure that we are all kept up with rule changes and etiquette and to those who act as host at each session ensuring all who wish to play can enjoy a game of bridge.  To you all - A Big Thank-you.

I would shortly like to invite those of you who have served as Chairman during the last 50 years to come forward when we cut the cake to represent all those members, and there would not be space for everyone, who have contributed in some way to the success and continuation of our Club. Events such as this rely on the support of many members from within the club – not just the committee and I should personally like to thank all of those who have made today possible.

Before I finish I should just like to jump back 50 years to the start of this history of the club. Without that class of aspiring bridge players making a decision to form a club exactly 50 years ago last month then none of us would be here today. I don’t know how many of you are aware but one member of that class who enrolled as a member 50 years ago is still a regular attendee and fittingly, when I last played here a week ago – who should come first but that very same individual showing how she had not forgotten those skills learnt back in the 1960s.

To mark this wonderful achievement of 50 years continuous membership your committee has decided that today we will award honorary life membership of the Bookham Afternoon Bridge Club to Jean Suckling and to celebrate that award I invite Jean, accompanied by all those who have served as Chairman, to now come forward to receive the toast and to cut this wonderful cake.

 Thank you.

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