About our U3A

U3A (The University of the Third Age) is a UK-wide movement which brings together people in their ‘third age’ to develop their interests and continue their learning in a friendly and informal environment.

If you’re wondering what we mean by the third age - it is a time after you have finished working full-time or raising your family and have time to pursue your interests or just try something new. Many people in their "third age" are of course very active grandparents!

U3A has a ‘university’ of members who draw upon their knowledge and experience to teach and learn from each other but there are no qualifications to pass – it is just for pleasure. Learning is its own reward.

The guiding principle is to promote lifelong learning through self-help interest groups covering a wide range of topics and activities as chosen by the membership. It's all voluntary; a typical U3A will be home to many activity groups covering hundreds of different subjects - from art to zoology and everything in between.

Formed over 30 years ago, there are now over 1,000 U3As across the UK, with thousands of interest groups between them and more than 400,000 members nationally.

Each U3A is independent with its own ethos and character. The U3A national body – the Third Age Trust - looks after all the U3As in the UK, providing educational and administrative support.

Brightlingsea U3A was founded in 2004 when it was thought that people in the town could run their own events and activities rather than travel into Colchester – then the nearest U3A but not easily accessible. Our location provides a unique community and we have developed our particular style of doing things. While holding true to the U3A philosophy we also recognise the importance of the social side of our meetings and activities: helping members to make new friends and links within our town.
For information about the U3A click on the U3A header
For information about our events and activities click on the GROUPS and EVENTS headers

The U3A meets on the first Friday afternoon of each month at 2.00pm in the Parish Hall, These are fairly informal occasions with an invited speaker and an opportunity to exchange news from the groups, give out notices, arrange outings and so on. We try to cover a range of topics and to ensure that these include matters of local interests. Ideas for speakers always welcome.

In between the monthly speakers there is an open social afternoon. This is an opportunity for members to get together for tea and a chat but mostly these have a theme or focus. Groups can use the afternoon to share or ‘showcase’ their work, enjoy a quiz, a debate, a game of cards, to plan an outing or activity, to set up a new group. Recent afternoons, for example, have featured a mini-Antiques Road Show, an archive film show, making decorations for our Christmas Tree Festival entry, an exhibition by the photography group, a display of historical clothing……

Coach outings to places of interest, like museums and galleries, and events, like garden shows, are popular and we try to include several in each year’s programme. These may be fairly local trips as well as going further a-field in the region and to London. We have a pantomime trip each year which is very popular. Again, members are welcome to suggest and organise trips.

Our social events are usually a pre-Xmas and/or New Year ‘jolly’ when we may have ‘home grown’ entertainments, table-top games and generally let our hair down. We hold an annual garden buffet lunch or BBQ in the summer in a member’s garden. A new venture in 2017 was an afternoon of Games on the local Hurst Green.

A newsletter is produced every two months. This gives a full listing of current group activities and contact information, news from around the U3A, events and outings planned, speakers for the general monthly meetings and the programme of members’ afternoons. We try to include some local information and news.