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.



Fools Gold
At a Wooler U3A monthly meeting, instead of the usual speaker, Chair Veronica Gilbert invited Fool's Gold to perform. Steve and Carol Robson are an 'acoustic duo' who enjoy playing, singing and performing all over the UK and beyond.

Steve and Carol play original and traditional music using guitars, flute, whistles, bass and ukulele. They say that "everything we play is live and the only thing we require from a venue is a plug socket!".


Queensferry Rena Telfer from Tweedmouth was one of only 50,000 pedestrians granted the "once-in-a-lifetime-experience" of walking across the new 1.7 mile Queensferry Crossing over the Firth of Forth in Scotland.

At a monthly meeting of Wooler U3A, Rena explained that the Queensferry Crossing Experience ballot attracted almost 250,000 applicants and that she felt so lucky to be given the one-off chance to cross the bridge on foot. After the bridge opened to traffic on 7 September 2017, there was no pedestrian access.

Kelvin Rushworth



Mayor Dillon
The current Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Pauline Dillon, officially opened the Dunston U3A Open Day at 2.00 pm on Wednesday 7 March 2018 in Dunston Hill Methodist Church.

It is the very first time that a Gateshead Mayor has attended the annual event. But Cllr Dillon has special connections with Dunston as she moved to the area in the 1970s and was elected as a Councillor for Dunston and Teams in 2006. Cllr Dillon worked as a Youth and Community Worker and was a Magistrate.

Every year, Dunston U3A organises an Open Day when interested members of the public can learn more about the activities of the ten Interest Groups, and meet and talk with the Group Leaders.


Val Keogh Across the North East, fifty one U3As encourage hundreds of members to 'learn, laugh and live'.

Dunston U3A Walking Group member Valerie Keogh certainly does just that. In addition to Walking, Dunston U3A has ten Groups.

Members of the general public met Val and talked with Group Leaders at their 2018 Open Day in March in Dunston Hill Methodist Church.


Further information about Dunston and District U3A can be obtained by sending an email, click here Dunston email
Have a look at their website, including details of all Interest Groups and their Leaders, click here Dunston U3A


NEWCASTLE U3A Visits the Laing Art Gallery

Our new Saturday Explorers Group met once again to enjoy a Saturday in good company and pleasurable learning at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle where I delivered a walk and talk tour of the Paul Nash Exhibition which was been taking place in one of the galleries.

Catherine Stevenson

Read the full article by clicking here Paul Nash Exhibition


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



Voice North is an organisation that aims to capture the public’s vast experience, ideas, opinions and expectations about research, innovation and policy developments which affect their lives.

They have been based in Newcastle since 2007 and have supported members of the public of all ages and from all backgrounds, to become actively involved in contributing their insights and vision to;

  • Improving the focus, quality, relevance and impact of research
  • Stimulating and shaping social and technological innovation
  • Enjoying lifelong learning and becoming research-active citizens

Members support a range of research activity, as well as working with businesses and voluntary and statutory agencies to help drive innovation in products and services. 



In July 2017 the Regional Meeting was held at Ushaw College for the first time.

Ushaw College trained men for the Roman Catholic priesthood for more than two centuries, from its establishment in 1808 until 2011. For much of that time it also functioned as a boarding school for boys as well as a seminary for men destined for the priesthood. It is now a conference centre, hotel and has a café, shop, and museum. It is open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. Inside it has possibly the best collection of Pugin architecture in the whole of the UK.

Find out more by clicking this link Ushaw College

Left of Entrance Ushaw College Right of Entrance
. In the Gardens


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)