Bridge to Success
Last year, Duncan Happer (LGS 2000) was presented with the Alec Salisbury Award for Services to Education. This award recognises a schoolteacher who has contributed significantly to Youth Bridge.
Since returning to LGS in 2004 as a staff member, Duncan has been the driving force behind the Bridge Club and has hosted the Youth Bridge Challenge. He runs the School Bridge Club every lunchtime, where more than 30 pupils can enjoy a game. On Thursdays, a local international player and old boy, Ben Norton (LGS 2015), also comes in and coaches the team players!
Duncan reflects on how he got in to Bridge and the opportunities that it has created for him, his time at LGS as a pupil and now how the Bridge Club he runs helps current pupils.
Having been brought up in a family where we regularly played board games, it was a natural progression to try Bridge. Although this probably would not have been possible had I not attended LGS, because the culture here has always been that teachers are able to offer many amazing opportunities beyond the curriculum by sharing their interests and passions. I have endless fond memories as a pupil, from the excellent teaching and lessons, to participating fully in school life. I was proud to have represented the School in numerous sports teams, was fully involved with Abney house, and was fortunate to be at the School in 1995 for the Quincentenary and the visit of The Queen, the trip to London to St Paul’s Cathedral, and Les Misérables.
One of the many inspirational teachers I had when I was a pupil at LGS was Mr Starkings, who ran the thriving school Bridge Club. Little did I know what effect learning Bridge was to have on my life, from playing all around Europe and further afield to Sydney and Beijing, to meeting my wife! When I finished university, I took the opportunity to come back to LGS as a technician in the Computing Department. From the other side of the fence, it did not take me long to be inspired to become a teacher, and the School supported me through the Graduate Teacher Programme to qualify as a math’s teacher. I have never wanted to leave, and now endeavor to give our current pupils the same opportunities as when I was here.
There are many aspects to Bridge that are important for our current pupils. It is a very sociable activity which creates its own community within the School, where pupils from all year groups interact daily, as well as the competitive element in matches against prestigious schools such as Eton, St Paul’s, Westminster, and Haberdashers’ Aske’s. Every game requires players to cooperate with a partner, apply logical thinking and strategy and constantly make decisions based on new, and often incomplete, information. These are some of the skills from playing Bridge that I believe are tremendously valuable to our pupils, many of whom will go on to leadership positions in their chosen careers.
- Duncan Happer (LGS 2000)