Retiree turns passion into profit – how playing bridge is paying her bills

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Ms Feldman retired in 2018 after a career in the travel industry and began teaching the card game bridge at a local care home. Now offering private tuition, and with the offer to teach bridge in schools, Ms Feldman has been able to use her hobby as a retirement income boost.

The Hertfordshire resident started playing bridge at the age of 22, interested in meeting new people and the social aspect of the game.

“It was just supposed to be a hobby, but I’ve been playing bridge ever since.”

Working as a travel agent, Ms Feldman started her own online travel business in 2001, gaining some valuable skills which would end up helping her establish her bridge business.

She commented: “I retired in 2018 when I was 64 and didn’t quite know what I was going to do other than my hobbies.

“Then my bridge partner told me she was retiring. She owned a club and wanted to sell it because she felt it was too much for her. So I approached another friend and, before we knew it, in the February of 2019 I took over the club, bought all of the equipment and opened a bridge club.”

Ms Feldman was adamant when the pair first opened the club that her expertise was on the business and operational side, not in teaching, saying that she didn’t believe she was good enough.

But watching her business partner teach bridge gave her the confidence to become a registered bridge teacher. 

Taking a course with the English Bridge Union, and utilising some local online advertising resources, Ms Feldman went from a bridge player to club owner and teacher within a single year. 

However, the pandemic soon stopped her in her tracks, as the bridge club could not continue and her students were unable to come to her house for lessons. 

Ms Feldman began to look for online resources to continue her bridge lessons, educating herself through YouTube on how to work Zoom and create Powerpoint presentations. 

“I didn’t charge them for about three or four months because I didn’t think it was fair.

“I had no online experience on how to teach, but then by June I thought I had to get to grips with it or lose my students completely. I went on YouTube, taught myself how to use Zoom and make powerpoint presentations.”

She continued: “It was tough but during the lockdown there was nothing else to do. I spent hours and hours making these pretty presentations, and they’re not professionally made in any sense, but they serve their purpose.”

Ms Feldman also found a piece of software called Bridge Base Online, which enabled her to show her students how the game worked and set up a teaching table where they could practice. 

“This went on right up until today,” she added. 

Ms Feldman shared that while she originally didn’t charge her students for tuition, adding a price tag onto her lessons helped her feel like she was working again rather than just doing constant favours.

“And it’s nice to have some pocket money when you’re retired,” she added.

She commented that what drove her to pursue her bridge passion more in retirement was the mental health benefits, saying: “It keeps the brain active, it keeps the kudos and keeps you connected with the real world. I don’t want to be a lady who lunches every day, everybody has got to have a hobby in their retirement otherwise you just stagnate.

“Personally, it’s given me self esteem, it makes me feel relevant because when you’re retired you think, ‘Oh, what’s my next step? What am I going to do with my time?’.”

Having recently opened another bridge club, Ms Feldman noted that while she thoroughly enjoys what she is doing, she doesn’t want it to overwhelm her retirement.

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