Last year at this time I wrote...
"We are fast approaching that time of year when we look back on the current one and forward to the next. For the EBU and me it has been a year of discovery….".
I also wrote...
"After seventy seven years it was no surprise that there is resistance to change from some, especially the noisy minority. Whatever happens next year our members should remember that this is the first time EVER that the EBU has consulted its membership, has listened to what they have said and absorbed as many of their suggestions as possible".
So here we are – another twelve months on and what is going on the real world rather dwarfs the changes that are anticipated in the EBU, following the democratic decision making process which resulted in the Shareholders voting for change in June. Since then large numbers of people, most of them volunteers, have started working on the largest changes to affect our organisation since its inception. As predicted, there are some who do not wish to see these changes go through but, for the most part, I sense that most members are prepared to see the changes in, to see how it works and to contribute to the development of bridge in England. The setting up of two key committees – the Club Committee and the Universal Membership Project Board – within two months of the vote being taken, show our commitment to putting our clubs and their players at the hub of our activities.
The next year or two around the world are likely to be very difficult for many of us whatever our situations. What we are fortunate to have in common is the ability to participate in an activity that is relatively inexpensive and is extremely good for those that play, whatever the age of the player. Even during these tough times, the Board of the Union is working hard to develop bridge in England, both now and in the future. Our new Chairman has already begun to promote the benefits that bridge can bring to society to people in Parliament, including the programme we now have in place to try and get bridge on the school curriculum, and to try to gain investment in promoting learning and playing bridge for the over 50s to protect against dementia. We are hopeful that we can get the right people to consider what we are proposing.
In the week in which the "Sports Personality of 2008" was on TV, it is appropriate to remind ourselves that three of our teams arrived back from the Mind Sport Games in Bejiing with well deserved medals. They never got a mention on the BBC’s programme because few people outside of bridge, let alone inside our community, register international success in our chosen activity. Huge credit must go to the players but also, as ever, to the many people who give up their time at all levels to ensure that our players got a chance to shine.
On behalf of the staff at the EBU I would like to wish all of our members and volunteers seasons greetings and a happy new year for 2009.