Bridge clubrooms get upgraded

Ashburton Bridge Club president John Shearer, and immediate past president and office manager Mary Buckland enjoying the new modern spaces in the entrance to the clubrooms.

Members of Ashburton Bridge Club have been enjoying some much-needed modernisation to their clubrooms, with extensive upgrades to their kitchen, foyer and toilet facilities.

The building, tucked away on a back section along Alford Forest Road, was officially opened on March 13, 1963 and aside from a few minor touches had not had any work done to it since 1975.

In the early days it was compulsory to have two ashtrays per table for smokers.

Concentration levels are high during bridge sessions.

But despite the obvious smokefree changes since then, concentration levels – and player competitiveness – remains on par.

It currently has 153 members playing at different levels.

Club president John Shearer said members had a low-key opening and cutting of the ribbon to the foyer before raising a toast to their new facilities ahead of this year’s first Thursday night bridge session.

Bridge sessions had not been impacted by the current Red traffic light setting. The club enforcing vaccine passes while at Red and well under the limited 100 people per session.

The upgrade work was able to be carried out due to the valuable support of members who rallied and came up with a sizeable chunk of money to kick-start fundraising efforts.

Special thanks to members who had ‘‘dug deep, some very deep,” Mr Shearer said.

They also got charitable status and gratefully received grants from Mid/South Canterbury Trust ($17,000), Advance Ashburton ($15,000), Lion Foundation ($10,000), Ashburton Licensing Trust ($6000) and Ashburton District Council ($3000).

It was a “fantastic effort” and the club had managed to stay debt-free as a result, Mr Shearer said.

The building was originally a joinery workshop and since the club had bought it had not carried out any major work since the addition of the ladies toilets in the mid-70s.

The Ashburton Bridge Clubs foyer is among the key areas to get recent upgrade work.

Mr Shearer was on the building committee formed 18-months ago to investigate work needed.

He, along with seven others, bandied about ideas – including options to rebuild or relocate – until it was suggested to focus on one area.

The kitchen upgrade includes a tap with instant boiling water for members hot drinks.

“The foyer, kitchen, easy access toilet and toilets became the focus,” he said.

“All the expensive parts, plumbing and electrical.”

There were also upgrades needed to meet current fire regulations and compliance with the switch board and insulation.

A plan or three from construction company Geoff Read Builders saw a final building plan agreed on by the committee, and then members.

“They (Geoff Read Builders) were absolutely brilliant to work with,” Mr Shearer said.

They gave a fixed price, started on September 1 and were finished, as planned, by Christmas.

Most importantly “disruption to our bridge was minimal”, he said.

The club runs four bridge sessions a week for different level players, Bronze (Monday nights), Gold (Tuesday) and Silver (Thursday) with a social session on Wednesday afternoons.

There are also lessons on Monday afternoons starting on Monday (February 14th).

Mr Shearer said there were plenty of ideas for the next stage of development, but nothing was planned.