COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES APRIL 2019 TO MARCH 2020
This is our Committee’s third and for the most part last year in office.
Everything changed for us all, of course, in late March 2020, at the end of the year under current review. We had to “lock-down” all our face-to-face group activities as required by the Coronavirus regulations and postpone our AGM.
So, what did we all do on your behalf in the year to March? A substantial part of the year under review was spent seeking out potential replacements for the eight Committee positions due to change hands. This work started in November 2018 and went through many ups and downs. Difficulty in finding volunteers willing to step forward to take Committee positions is a vulnerability for our U3A. It is not permitted to carry on without certain positions being filled.
On to other activities….
Our U3A is part of a broader organisation and our Deputy Chair Zena Bishop represented us all at the regional Derbyshire Network of U3As. Its meetings occur 3 times a year and offer opportunities for U3As to swap ideas and wrestle with similar problems.
At the end of March, our U3A had 618 members. Chris Harvey, our Membership Secretary, handled the membership renewal process with her customary efficiency and ensured that the hard copies of our magazine Third Age Matters and newsletter Newslink, reached our members as required. She was helped with this by several willing volunteers.
We had a maximum of 66 groups during the year, ranging from Adventures in Good Music to Wings and Wheels. This wonderful variety on offer, is run by a dedicated group of volunteers, willingly giving of their time, experience and knowledge, and all these groups are available in normal circumstances to every member of our U3A.
We look forward to the day when that level of activity can resume, possibly with some new ways of working.
Three Group leaders have retired during the year under review. They are Fran Allen (Sharing Suppers), Mike Monaghan (Environment) and Alison Crowther (Country Dancing). We would like to thank them very warmly for their commitments and contributions. Apart from authorising accommodation costs, the Committee responded to requests for funds from four groups (Literature, Wild flowers, Recorders and Croquet). It has also responded to requests for guidance on policy relating to paid tutors, our non-political status, the statutory configuration of our U3A and information relating to insurance. Many thanks to Julie Batten and Zena Bishop, who undertook the Group Leaders Coordination role during the review period.
Alison Crowther, together with husband John produced 3 very attractive copies of our newsletter Newslink. We are sad that Alison has had to resign as Editor, as well as giving up her role as leader of the Country Dancing Group. This is due to ill-health. We offer her our thanks and warmest best wishes.
Sue Allan, our General Meetings Organiser arranged talks on such subjects as New Orleans Jazz, self-sufficiency, music hall stories, the history behind Punch and Judy and the Air Ambulance Service, to name but a few. Special highlights were John and Annie Stirling, who gave a hilarious talk about John’s experience in Show Business. Bill Whitehouse, of the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation, gave a talk about the organisation’s involvement in the rescue of schoolboys trapped in a cave in Thailand.
We have continued to benefit from good publicity during the year. Zan Hurst has maintained her links with the Buxton AdvertIser and sent in reports of our monthly meetings, many of which have been published. These are important in letting members who are not able to attend the meeting know what has happened. They also include information about the next monthly meeting and about our U3A and its activities generally. We had an article in “Pure”, which focused on a family history conference hosted by our own Family History Group.
This year, a National U3A Day is due to take place. It had to be postponed, due to Coronavirus and will now take place next summer. It’s aim is to raise the profile of the entire U3A movement nationwide. Our U3A has worked on a new and updated publicity poster and leaflet under Zan’s guidance, identifying what U3A can offer to older people. This can be made available to other U3As, as well as our own, to support involvement in the U3A Day and for general use.
Zan also contributed to some broader tasks such as hosting events to attract future Committee members and helping to think through some of the issues that needed to be presented to the Committee for decisions or action.
Jean Evanson coordinated the activities of our “Occasional Helpers”. These are members who are willing to offer their time to volunteer as and when a bit of extra help is needed. During the year under review, they organised equipment for our talks, made sure our display board was set up at General Meetings and organised the rota for the provision of refreshments at those events. They also helped at the May 2019 Spring Fair in Buxton and with the conference hosted by our own Family History Group.
There are three other people who have played a key part in making the activities of the Committee happen and communicating them to the membership. Firstly, there is our Treasurer, Joe Brown. Joe has guided the Committee through the regulatory financial procedures and at the end of the year did the first of a number of projections to guide the current and future Committee through the financial implications of the Coronavirus. Secondly, there is William McGaw, who despatched an unprecedented number of communications to members. He updated the website regularly during the year, added a separate page for Group Leaders, helped those who wished to publicise their groups’s activities on dedicated group pages and handled all of the Committee’s communications to you, the members. In the month of March this year alone, there were just under 6000 hits on the website, with around 2,500 viewing the Group pages. A total of 600 emails and notices were sent to Committee members and Group Leaders and nearly 1500 to individual members in the same month. Last but not least, there is Gill Williamson. Gill coordinated the workload of the Committee, analysing the issues, structuring decisions for the Committee’s attention, monitoring progress through the action plans and controlling the paperwork.
The Committee would like to thank our wonderful Group Leaders, who have worked tirelessly throughout the year under review, because without them there would be no U3A.
The new Committee, starting on 25th August, is one I know is going to go from strength to strength. It faces considerable immediate challenges due to the impact of the Coronavirus. However, I know the members will do their best on your behalf to ensure that our U3A continues through the crisis and long into the future.
The departing Committee wishes them and all of you well.