Donald Shamash, who stood down as President of South District at last year’s AGM, died last week.
One of Donald’s great loves was Bridge and he was a major inspiration for the game in South West Scotland. Not only was he a formidable player but was exceptional at teaching others, whatever their age or standard, and at communicating his enthusiasm to them.
A fine example of this occurred when, some twenty years ago, his nephews at Kirkcudbright Academy told him that there was no Bridge activity there at all, let alone any participation in schools’ competitions. He personally inaugurated a teaching programme for the pupils with such success that, within two years, the Academy was the winner of the Scottish Schools Championship – which had hitherto been the preserve of large private schools.
He was President of the Kirkcudbright Bridge Club for many years and, when it appeared to be in danger of failing, was instrumental in giving it a new lease of life, running regular classes there, encouraging new members and promoting competitions and events. He was also a leading light in the Loreburn Club in Dumfries, perhaps the major club in the area.
He managed a Kirkcudbright team which performed year after year in the South West Scotland league, the Daily Record Cup and other local competitions, winning frequently and always being the team which rivals had to beat to succeed. Indeed, there is probably hardly a cup or competition in the area for which he was eligible of which he was not the holder many times over. For two years he was the President of the Southern District of the Scottish Bridge Union.
But, quite apart from his success in competitive Bridge, he was always ready for a game with players of lesser standard, imparting to them his enthusiasm, skill and love of the game. While always competitive, whatever was at stake, he was the most patient and encouraging partner you could have.