The EBU created a charitable trust (The EBU Youth and Education Trust) a few years ago. The initial funding was increased when we were fortunate to receive a substantial three year donation from the Milton Damerel Trust which we used for an agreed project, which is the teaching of Minibridge to school teachers and their pupils, predominantly in primary schools.
This has been in progress now for well over two years and during that time we have trained many hundreds of teachers and pupils in the game of Minibridge and have made some headway in convincing education experts of the many benefits of using bridge as a method of making mathematics fun to teach as well as assisting the social development of young people. You may recall the front cover of our February edition of English Bridge which showed some young pupils from Tunbridge Wells outside the Palace of Westminster, before they went inside to play members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Bridge.
History will record, although sadly not Hansard, that the youngsters won.
While this project continues we are also working, at the other end of the age spectrum, on getting some further evidence on the benefits of bridge playing for older people, especially in the area of warding off dementia. We have a very dedicated volunteer working hard with members of the medical and academic communities to enhance the knowledge that we have already gathered, which has proved sufficient to allow the Charity Commission to allow charitable status to the first bridge club in England, the Hitchin bridge Club.
I think it will be of interest to reproduce some words from the Charity Commission:-
"Bridge is regarded as a game involving a high degree of mental skill, being one of the components in the World Mind Games. Bridge involves logical and lateral thinking skills, planning, memory, sequencing, initiating and other high order functions and therefore, we are satisfied that it is a game which involves mental skill or exertion which, if played regularly, is a game capable of promoting health.
In reaching our conclusion that bridge is a sport or game which promotes health by involving skill or exertion, we looked at a body of research. That research identified the potential health benefits of playing bridge, and other forms of mental activity, among seniors in lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other dementia by as much as 75%, compared to those who did not exercise their minds".
We are naturally delighted that the level of academic evidence has reached this stage but we believe that more evidence will allow us to further develop the argument that bridge is a healthy and beneficial pastime from (almost) cradle to grave.
Thus the EBU is working hard not only for the future of the game in England but also for the future health of our ageing population.
If you are interested in making a donation to the English Bridge Union Youth and Education Trust please contact the Trust at our Aylesbury office, or visit our dedicated page.