Northumbria Region U3A

Focus on ...

This page is intended to give concise information about various and diverse topics that will be of general interest to members of the Northumbria Region. The most recent information is at the top of the page, the oldest at the bottom.

If you, as an individual or representing one of the U3As within the region, would like to submit a topic for inclusion then please click here website.

Information about the Northumbrian Herbal Project is now on the Groups and Projects page.



Voice North has spread its wings and has now become Voice-Global.

Its new web address is

The following is a small extract from their website:

In contributing our experience, ideas, insights and vision, VOICE members become partners. They work with Universities and external organisations to:

  • Improve the focus, quality, relevance and impact of research
  • Stimulate and shape social and technological innovation
  • Enjoy lifelong learning and become research active citizens
  • Make a positive difference to the lives of older people across the globe

The involvement of VOICE members in research helps to focus academic knowledge, creativity and expertise on finding solutions and innovations that will make a difference to and have an impact on people's lives


Theatre Goers

The Tyne Theatre perhaps does not get as much attention as other theatres in the region. However, their next production is something many of our members might like to know about.

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
Date: 13th/15th September
Venue: Tyne Theatre and Opera house
Tickets are very reasonably priced.

Michael Morpurgo is, of course, know for War Horse

Commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War One, Private Peaceful relives the life of Private Tommo Peaceful, a young soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn. During the night he looks back at his short but joyful past growing up in rural Devon: his exciting first days at school; the accident in the forest that killed his father; his adventures with Molly, the love of his life; and the battles and injustices of war that brought him to the front line.
Winner of the Blue Peter Book of the Year, Private Peaceful is by third Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo. His inspiration came from a visit to Ypres where he was shocked to discover how many young soldiers were court-martialled and shot for cowardice during the First World War.


Wessington U3A

The War Memorials group received a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the money has now been paid to us – in order to fund our last project:

‘Now This Lousy War is Over’.

Fool’s Gold Acoustic have written six songs; The Battle of Fatfield Bridge, Sketches, Postcards from France On the Stair, Roll Call, and Poppy Road. The war memorials group have written some connecting words. Performances will be as follows:

11th November 2018 at North Biddick Club at 12.00 noon
12th November at Usworth Holy Trinity Church at 2pm
13th November at Beamish Museum Band Hall at 11.30am (you will need Beamish entry for the day).
16th November at Washington Holy Trinity at 7.00pm
19th November 2018 at North Biddick Club – mainly for Wessington in U3A members

Tickets are free but admission to the events is by ticket only.

Wooler News - The Cheviot Memorial

Cheviot Memorial In this year, that the Royal Air Force celebrates being in existence for one hundred years, it seemed especially fitting that Wooler U3A History Group Leader Rita Cooke should invite newly appointed Northumberland Deputy Lieutenant Group Captain Tim Willbond (Retd) and Wing Commander Chrys Murphy MBE to talk about the Cheviot Memorial.

The Cheviot Memorial was erected to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day to honour both the Allied airmen killed in World War II plane crashes and the endeavours and courage of 'the people of the Cheviot' who helped rescue survivors. Set within a traditional circular sheep pen or 'stell', the memorial features a black slate monolith topped by an orientation map showing the aircraft crash sites.

Wooler News - Open Day

Lord Beith, former university lecturer and former MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, officially opened the first ever Wooler U3A Open Day.

Volunteer Leaders from the fifteen Interest Groups had prepared a range of fascinating exhibitions of their work with members. A free light lunch was provided. Grants towards the cost of the Open Day were received from The Third Age Trust and Northumberland Public Health.

On behalf of the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament, Lord Beith presented Wooler U3A Chair Veronica Gilbert with a certificate recognising the participation of Wooler U3A in 2017 UK Parliament Week.

Those interested were invited to stay and watch the Play Reading Group enjoying 'An Ideal Husband' by Oscar Wilde. This choice was wonderfully timed as the Vaudeville Theatre production of the play was streamed to local cinemas shortly afterwards.

Wooler News - Art Appreciation

The late Margery Stephenson was a Founder Member of Wooler U3A and the Leader of the Painting Group for many years. Earlier this year, members Barbara Rattcliff, Tony Davies and Helen Astley hung a number of Margery’s paintings in a fascinating exhibition, when she had been designated ‘Artist of the Month’ at the Cheviot Centre in Wooler.

In recognition of Margery, the internationally renowned artist James Hugonin invited Leader Brenda Smith and members of the Wooler U3A Art Appreciation Group to the Ingleby Gallery for afternoon tea with him ( For the past twenty two years Hugonin has made just one painting each year. From his studio in the Cheviot Hills in North Northumberland, Hugonin works constantly on these intense evocations of colour and light, comprised of thousands of tiny coloured marks fluctuating across the painting’s surface. As Wooler U3A members admired the Northern Art Prize, ‘Fluctuations in Elliptical Form’ (2016-17), on oil and wood, James said “These works are made here, they are conceived here, that sense of place is absolutely fundamental to them”. In an interview with The Journal, James said “it is important for me to go out on the hills and just look at, and be absorbed by, real light and real things”.

Kelvin Rushworth, 30/7/18



Mo Brown with Messenger When an edition of The Messenger was not produced in Spring 2018, it was really missed by the fifty one U3As in the region. However, 'all round good egg' Mo Brown (Newcastle U3A) stepped into the breach and acted as Editor of the July 2018 edition.

As a one-off innovation, two much appreciated hard copies of The Messenger were produced for each U3A in the region. These were distributed by Mo at the Northumbria U3A Regional Meeting in late July at the Durham Indoor Bowling Club, Pity Me. At that meeting, Mo announced that Mary Barlow (Sunderland U3A) had volunteered to be the Editor of the October 2018 edition of The Messenger.

Kelvin Rushworth, 30/7/18

To see the digital version of Messenger click here: Newsletter page


GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation

The following is a very small extract from the guidance on the main U3A website.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an update to the existing Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). GDPR will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018 and will replace the DPA.

What are the main changes from the DPA to the GDPR?

The main changes that affect U3As are the requirements relating to consent and accountability. U3As will need to gain consent from their members to obtain, retain and use their personal information. U3As will also need to evidence how you are complying with the principles of data protection which includes evidencing that members provided consent.

See the full advice by clicking on this link Data Protection Advice
However, you need to sign-in to the website.



Northumbria Region has run some Cyber Security courses recently, but in case you missed them or want to find out even more the Open University has released a free course in cyber security on their OpenLearn website.

The following is an extract from their site:

Our lives depend on online services. Gain essential cyber security knowledge and skills, to help protect your digital life.
We shop online. We work online. We play online. We live online. As our lives increasingly depend on digital services, the need to protect our information from being maliciously disrupted or misused is really important.

This free online course, Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online, will help you to understand online security and start to protect your digital life, whether at home or work. You will learn how to recognise the threats that could harm you online and the steps you can take to reduce the chances that they will happen to you.

With cyber security often in the news today, the course will also frame your online safety in the context of the wider world, introducing you to different types of malware, including viruses and trojans, as well as concepts such as network security, cryptography, identity theft and risk management.

This course has been developed by The Open University with support from the UK Government's National Cyber Security Programme and can be accessed free of charge.

Click here to go straight to the relevant web page: Cyber Security Course



There is a guide produced by the National Research Subcommittee. Download or view it here Research Guide

The National Research Subcommittee has produced a database with the aim of recording any research that involves the U3A.

Find the database at



Membership IT System - BEACON

In 2014, the NEC’s IT committee realised the potential for an online Membership Management System to help U3A committees manage their U3As and communicate with members. Some U3As were already using commercial online systems such as Wild Apricot. The IT committee’s then Chair, Antony Hughes, invited members interested in the subject to a meeting in London in January 2015. Some of the attendees had already created online systems for use by their own U3As. They agreed to come together to create a system that any U3A could use. This they did during early 2015.

The System goes Live
After extensive testing during the summer, in Autumn 2015 a few guinea-pig U3As started using the system ‘live’. It proved to be a big hit and soon there were dozens of U3As lining up to use it. The system was given the name ‘Beacon’.

Read the complete update on the Beacon system by clicking this link: Beacon Update pdf

To learn more, contact our Northeast Beacon Regional Coordinator: Alan Swindale (click the name to send an email)