The U3A Isle of Man meets on the third Thursday of every month at 2pm in St John's Mill. This is an opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers, meet fellow members, find out more about special interest groups, meet group co-ordinators and find out about new groups and events. You will find the dates and details of the speakers for 2018 in the list below. All the meetings are held at St John's Mill - just past the Tynwald Mills shops on the left. You can either park in the shops car park and walk or use the car park off the Poortown Road and walk from there. There is limited disabled car parking outside the Mill. There is a charge of £1 to attend.
If you are interested in the U3A but not yet a member, attending a Network Meeting is the ideal introduction. The Groups Co-ordinator will be able to explain what groups are running and how to join them. Membership for the year ending 31st March 2019 is just £15, and will remain at £15 for the 2019/2020 year.
Meeting Speakers - 2020
|17th September||Network Meeting||Speaker TBA|
|16th October||Network and AGM||Speaker TBA|
Our February Meeting featured John Murray and the Role of Manxmen in the US Civil War. This was an interesting "tour" of the lead up to the start of the Civil War, culminating with the Battle of Gettysburg. We learned the names of some of the Manxmen involved, thanks to the details in archives, personal letters and journals. Most of the Manx solders fought for the North, because that was where most of them settled after emigration (Ohio is a typical example - hence the Guild's Cleveland Medal). It was fascinating to learn that a descendant of William Christian (Illiam Dhone) fought in the war, and sad to learn that two brothers who settled in different states, ended up on opposing sides of the conflict, as did many Americans. A very informative talk.
Our first Network Meeting of the new decade was a cracking presentation by Kirsty Pendlebury on The Weather. Kirsty is the first (and currently the only) female weather forecaster in the Manx Met Office. Her passion and enthusiasm were infectious, and there was plenty of humour mixed in with the technical bits. Today's tech is a far cry from the days when charts were drawn by hand and calculations done on a slide rule, but there is still uncertainty, especially when the different computer models disagree! Added to the equation is the small size of the Island, where a tiny variation in speed or direction can mean a weather system being early/late or missing us altogether. Watching the rain radar showing over time the small intense weather "cell" that caused such devastating flooding in Laxey recently was fascinating, it just hung around causing chaos - then disappeared! Kirsty gave us an excellent talk which was enjoyed and appreciated by the members.
Our final event of 2019 was the annual Christmas Lunch. Held again at the Palace Hotel, Douglas, close to 50 members enjoyed a three course meal and tea/coffee and mince pies (although not all of us could manage the mince pies!). As always, the food was good and the service quietly efficient. Thanks to Brenda for doing the quiz (again), which turned out to be more good-natured than competitive. We had a free raffle (with some last minute improvised tickets) with wine, biscuits and chocolates as prizes. The company was enjoyable and everyone agreed that it was a great way to finish 2019 for our U3A. Looking forward to the next decade!
November's meeting was the last to be held in 2019, and the attendees were entertained by a very enthusiastic presentation by Sylvia Jarritt on the Pierrots on the Isle of Man. Originating in Italy, the character was known there as Pedrolino. Along with Harlequin and Columbine, the 3 characters were important figures in live entertainment in Europe, the latter 2 characters becoming more associated with the circus. The traditional Pedrolino, with white suit (and black pompoms) black skull cap and white face was renamed Pierrot when the shows spread to France. Channel hopping to southern England, and especially associated with seaside holiday resort entertainment, the shows changed and adapted as they spread further north, eventually arriving in the Isle of Man. It was interesting to hear a number of members who either remembered the shows, or had heard their parents describing them. An unusual topic enjoyed by the audience.
Our October meeting speaker was Dr Joanna Kitto who coordinates the Brahma Kumaris Centre in the Isle of Man. Her theme was Wellbeing, and the tools for helping us to quiet the constant "busyness" of our minds and dwell more in the moment. It sounds simple but is a real skill, with yoga and meditation and identifying root causes of stress all helping to develop resilience. Joanna also has a very soothing voice, and more than one member looked zoned out by the end of her talk.
All the courses and classes at the Centre are free of charge, in the belief that opportunities for developing good health should be available to all.
Our September monthly meeting featured a well-known speaker - Charles Guard. He had previously given us a talk on the Milntown Estate, but this time his subject was his life in film. He showed clips going back to his earliest pieces, including the Falcon Cliff Hotel lift, which is now derelict. He spoke with wry humour about the trials and tribulations of filming documentary-style outdoors, especially in a city (cue a memorable encounter with a bolshie skateboarder!). It was also a revelation that as well as providing narration and commentary, he also composed the music for many of his pieces, especially his DVDs of the Island. Time was too short to explore all his film-related anecdotes, but he is such a skilled raconteur, the hope is that we can persuade him to pay us another visit. A really enjoyable meeting.
September 13th was our visit to the Energy from Waste Plant. It's a very futuristic-looking building which is even more impressive close up. Our guide was Jack Kaighen who told us that he started out as a baker and confectioner who made the change to engineering, working with ovens of one form or another throughout his working career.
Once we were all decked out in our safety gear, he gave us a brief introduction and then got us moving up the building. He showed us all aspects of the process, starting with the lorries arriving and offloading to the reception hall bunker and the huge grabber arm that loads the waste into the furnace hopper. Next we saw the turbines and generator (from behind glass, of course), and then on to the nerve centre of the whole operation, the Control Room. This is run by just 3 people at a time on 12 hour shifts. We then walked the gantries to see the primary furnace, where we were able to peek through a tiny window at the roaring flames inside. The normal running temperature of this furnace is 850+ C. There is also a secondary furnace used to burn clinical waste and certain waste oils at 1000C, but this only operates when sufficient waste is stockpiled. At full capacity around 1.5 megawatts of electricity is used to power the plant, leaving up to 5.5 megawatts to be exported to Manx Utilities.
As we worked our way down the building, we saw the grate for the bottom ash, and the areas used to cool, neutralise and filter the gases, before being vented up the stack. As expected the whole process runs under strict regulations, not only for the residue and emissions, but also for the water effluent.
All in all, a fascinating tour through a building that seemed much larger on the inside than out, and produced at least some useful energy from all our piles of waste.
August 15th saw a split visit to the Manx Military & Aircraft Museum, with a guided tour by Ivor Ramsden MBE. The museum is a Tardis-like structure, which has an incredible number of exhibits packed into a seemingly small space. Pride of place went to the Manx Regiment artefacts, which were donated when the Association was disbanded. AS complete World War I exhibition was completed last year in time for the anniversary of the Armistice. Ivor and his team take great care to research the items before they go on display. Personal items are not displayed and wherever possible, re-united with family. The dedication and care given to the objects was obvious, and many heart-rending stories uncovered. The beautiful garden set up in the grounds features a memorial to 28 Canadian Airforce personnel who died in flying accidents over the Island between 1941 and 1944. It was an excellent tour, and well worth a return visit (or two or three) to do justice to the huge variety of exhibits.
We had a really excellent meeting on Thursday 20th June, with our speaker Chris Hobdell from the Archibald Knox Forum, showing us a film of a lecture on Archibald Knox and his gradual emergence from behind the Liberty brand to becoming a recognised artist in his own right. The comparison with similar objects by contemporary artists was particularly telling - the understated elegance and craftsmanship of Knox's pieces spoke for themselves. A wonderful addition to the talk was the collection of beautiful pieces brought along by Chris, which we could get close to and even handle. More than one person has suggested that the Island really should have a gallery devoted to the artist and his work, and on seeing this account it would be hard to disagree with this sentiment.
Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.