(The monthly Newsletter will only be published occasionally until activities resume.)

Sunday, 16th August

GOOD NEWS - We are slowly and safely re-starting some of our activities. The first is Coffee & Chat which will be held this Friday, 21st August at the Spire & Spoke in Watlington at 11.00 am. (For those of you who haven't seen it yet, it used to be the Carriers Arms at the bottom of Hill Road.) There is plenty of parking and tables outside but under cover where we can observe social distancing regulations. We have booked some places but please ensure no one is disappointed by emailing or phoning Jenny Gubbins if you are intending to come. Her contact details will be in the Newsletter which will be circulated by email on Monday. Alternatively send an email via this website and the message will be passed to her. N.B. this replaces the original booking for Picnic Hamper on the same date.

THE ART GROUP will start up again on Thursday, 27th August in Pyrton village hall. Strict social distancing will be observed and the special guidelines from U3A for art and craft groups will be given to all attendees. Jane is contacting all existing members of the group but if you haven't heard from her please get in touch.

SEPTEMBER 15th SPEAKER MEETING - this will go ahead with our original speaker, Peter Clift from Witney U3A, and his subject is Joseph Bazaigette who was responsible for the London sewers and several of its bridges. As we are not yet permitted to gather indoors in large numbers, this will be held as a 'virtual' meeting on Zoom. Think of it as watching on Television rather than actually being there. You will need to have a computer or a tablet or a smartphone in order to watch (you can listen only on any phone). It really is very easy. We will send you an email the previous day with any necessary instructions and a link. This will be in blue type and all you have to do is click on it a few minutes before 2.30 on the day.
If you have a U3A neighbour or friend who you know does not have an internet connection, you might consider inviting them to share yours for the afternoon.

We are nowhere near returning to the pre-Covid way of doing things yet and realistically we all know it may be sometime before we are able to do so but we are gradually opening up and / or finding new ways of doing things which are quite exciting. If you have any bright ideas do let us know.

Monday, 10th August

Some of our smaller groups are beginning to meet again when they can do so following government safety guidelines. The Second Monday Book Group has met in the garden and will do so again in September, weather permitting. The Writing Group is doing the same.

The Committee continues to hold its monthly meeting virtually.

The Thames Valley Network is planning some virtual events starting with one on How to Run a Quiz, followed by an actual Quiz on 1st September.

The AGM of the Third Age Trust (i.e. the National U3A) will be held on 29th September as a 'virtual' meeting which any U3A member may join.

There will be an Autumn Gathering of the South East Region on 4th November via Zoom. The title of the day is Back to the Future - Normality Restored? and there are some really good speakers. Booking will be available in early October.

The national website is still full of new ideas for on-line learning and group activities - see the U3A tab at the top of the page for a link to it. There are also courses on how to use Zoom (one of the on-line platforms for holding virtual meetings and events). These are easy to follow and you can also ask questions. We would like as many of our members as possible to become familiar with Zoom as it may be some time before we are able to hold large gatherings and Zoom is an excellent alternative.

Friday, 17th July

Sorry we haven't had an update recently but there hasn't been much to report that you haven't already had in the June Newsletter which was sent to all our members.

Even with lock-down restrictions easing, we are still not permitted to have indoor meetings but we can have online ones.


Due to the present advice from both U3A and the Government, we have had to cancel the August speaker meeting and we expect it will be several more months before we can hold one safely. However, there are a number of speakers who are prepared to make their presentations via Zoom or similar online platforms and they can be interactive so you can ask questions as you would at a normal meeting. The only down side is that you would have to make your own cup of tea!

If you haven't already tried it, Zoom is very easy to use and free of charge. We can give you instructions on how to use it and it will work on a laptop, tablet or smart phone. Many U3As are using it for their meetings and also for running Interest Groups with great success. Of course, we all miss the social side of these meetings but at least we can see and hear each other. (It is also great for having family parties as well - many of us are missing our grandchildren.)


We believe we can safely hold a small COFFEE MORNING at the Picnic Hamper in Chalgrove on 21st August – so if would like to come, please phone Annette on 07771 992724. It will be on a first come first served basis as there is a limit on numbers to comply with Social Distancing. Do remember to phone – you can’t just turn up as before lock-down.

Monday, 15th June.

We are now starting the 13th week of lock-down and tomorrow will be the 4th Speaker Meeting we have had to cancel. Although restrictions are gradually being lifted, there are a number of our members who still have to be extra careful and of course we must all stay alert. To quote the Queen "We will meet again" but it may not be for a while. This week we are circulating a newsletter by email (delivered to those who are not on line) to keep everyone informed as to what is happening. There will be a link on the Welcome page as soon as it is published. In the meantime, there is a huge amount of activity on line via the national U3A website.

Tuesday, 14th April.

It seems extraordinary that just a month ago, on the second Tuesday in March, your Committee were meeting as usual in the West Room of Old School Place and I was expecting to leave a few days later for a week's work in France. Now it seems like another world. However, we are taking it in our stride and this morning your Committee will have a virtual meeting via Zoom. We will let you know how it went later in the day. We are looking at ways of continuing at least some of the Group activities and maybe even creating new Groups which can be conducted on line until we are back to being able to meet again.



I hope by now you have all found ways of communicating with your families and that you will be able to enjoy this Easter Sunday even if it cannot be the same as usual.

Wednesday, 8th April.

More and more virtual meetings are taking place across the U3A movement. Your own committee will meet remotely on Tuesday which is its usual date. Avis tells me that the TVN committee will hold its next meeting via Zoom and this morning we had a meeting of the SE Region Support Team by the same method. We hope that everyone is looking at all the good stuff on the National website and we are collating a list of useful links to go on the SE Region site. I'll let you know when it is there.

We believe that some members may have computers tucked away or smart phones which they only use for making calls. Others have laptops or tablets which they only use for emails. Now is the perfect time to dust them off and experiment. If you are reading this you will know that there is so much available on line that newcomers are bound to become hooked once they start. Contrary to the belief of some, it is almost impossible to wipe your laptop clean / loose all your data by pressing the wrong key. Equally, the U3A Facebook page Keeping in Touch is a closed group for members only. To join you need only enter your name, gender, date of birth and the U3A to which you belong. No other information will go on your profile unless you put it there. If you know any member with these or similar concerns, please do your best to persuade them to have a try. We have a number of very computer literate members who are happy to help via phone calls.

Sunday, 5th April - Palm Sunday (in case you forgot)

When you have finished watching the Queen at eight o'clock you could always try an on-line Jigsaw. They are really rather good. You can choose your picture (many are free) decide how many pieces you want, which way up, select straight edges etc. You can exit and come back to where you left off and best of all when you place the last piece all the joins disappear and you see the whole picture. Do give it a try - you may become addicted!

One of the many benefits of Annette's letter yesterday was that, inevitably, several emails bounced back so I rang to check thereby having an enjoyable chat with several members to whom I might not have spoken otherwise. It is good to know that people are well and coping with the extraordinary situation in which we all find ourselves.

Saturday, 4th April

Annette, our chairman, sent an email letter to all members this morning. There is a link to it on the Welcome page. Those not on email will receive a hard copy shortly.

A few more ideas from National Office:

The photography project, which we are calling U3A Eye, went up on the website on Monday evening, details at: https://www.u3a.org.uk/learning/u3a-eye. Jeff and Peter Read, the photography Subject Adviser will select 15 photos from those submitted on a particular theme to go on an online gallery every fortnight. There has been a lot of interest and we have 144 photos submitted to date. The current theme is “yellow”.
Bird watch: This went up on the website last night and this links people to the British Trust for Ornithology BirdTrack project, asking members to submit photos and sighting to us also. Details at: https://www.u3a.org.uk/component/content/article/197-covid-19/575-the-great-u3a-birdwatch?Itemid=490. We may expand this to a more general “nature watch” depending on responses.
The creative writing competition will be opened after Easter on the 14th April (in order to stagger initiatives) and will ask for short submissions on a theme, which will go to regional judging panels initially. This is based on the successful competition in Wales and thanks very much to Chris for help and paperwork for this. The deadline will be 19th June, after which all winning regional entries will be judged to come up with an overall winner.

Thursday, 2nd April

A letter is being sent to all members explaining the present situation and offering advice on how we can best continue our activities until we can return to normal. The committee will meet on their usual date via "Zoom" which will allow them to see as well as talk to each other. If you have any comments, suggestions or requests which you would like discussed, please contact one of us or use the message button on the welcome page of this site.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY If you are really bored or would like some simple mental stimulation do consider computer games. If you have never tried them, they are not all dungeons & dragons. There are many classic games such as Domino, Scrabble and card games where you play against the computer. There are also numerous word and number games and puzzles. It is worth a look in the App store - most are free and you can always delete them if they are not for you.

Wednesday, 18th March (4.15 pm)

The good news is that nobody turned up for the Speaker Meeting yesterday, so the up to date information is circulating efficiently. Well done everybody.

Various plans are being discussed at all levels, national, regional and between ourselves as to how we might continue to operate and prevent ourselves from going stir crazy over the coming weeks. Those of our members with any IT skills will realize that much can be done on line and this is being investigated urgently.

In the meantime, please remember those of our members who are not 'connected' and don't hesitate to pick up the phone and have a chat. Loneliness is a horrible thing from which to suffer at the best of times and U3A is a lifeline for many people. It is up to us all to ensure this continues in the current crisis.

Later this evening (after I have watched the latest News Conference from no 10) I will be putting much of the reported information that would have been in this month's Newsletter onto the various group pages of this website so please have a look through in the morning.

Plans for the rescheduling of TVN events are well underway. The Architecture day in Benson on 23rd April is now moved to 20th November and all members who booked will be receiving an email in the next few days. Other changes will follow.


Monday, 16th March at 18.00 (6pm)

The government has this afternoon announced new strong recommendations concerning the avoidance of social contact for everyone and especially for the over 70s and those at maximum risk.

In view of these directives Ridgeway U3A has agreed on the following:

  • The Speaker Meeting due to be held tomorrow, Tuesday, 17th March has been cancelled.

Annette and Susie will be in the Pavilion Car Park from 2 to 2.30 pm in case anyone turns up who has not heard the news.

  • The Speaker Meetings on 21st April and 19th May have also been cancelled and the respective speakers re-booked for 2021.
  • The Luncheon Group meeting on 25th March will be re-scheduled for a later date when we are given the all clear.
  • The New Horizons Group meetings for April and May have also been cancelled.
  • For news on other Interest Groups, please contact your Group Convenor.
  • The TVN Study Day in Henley scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed until 2021
  • A decision on other TVN events will be taken shortly. However, it has already been agreed that events will not be cancelled but just postponed until a later date.
  • The Summer School in Chichester, scheduled for June has been postponed for a year.

If you are over 70 or in the 'at risk' category, please do your best to follow the government advise to safeguard yourselves and others.

If you are under 70 and fit and well, please see if you are able to help others who may need assistance.

On your Ridgeway U3A 2020 Programme (the blue card) you will find contact details for all the members of the Committee. If you are in need of assistance of any kind, please don't hesitate to contact them and they will find a way to help you.

We can be fairly certain that some of us will be infected this virus at some period over the next few weeks / months. Let us hope that we all come through safely.