Two New U3As Launched

On a bright and sunny afternoon on the 20th of March a new U3A in Helensburgh was launched. Thanks to the sterling work of some local ladies the Parish Church Hall was packed. We never know how many people will turn up at a Launch, but I have always been delighted by the better than expected numbers present. There were over 100 people present to hear about the U3A and the possibility of starting a U3A in Helensburgh.

The event started with tea, coffee and biscuits. With increasing numbers of people pouring into the hall, the local volunteers were desperately bringing out more and more chairs. The Launch was kicked off by Ed Link, NEC Trustee for Scotland, welcoming all and thanking the local people for organising the event. He then went on to explain the purpose of the Launch and what to expect. This was followed by Janet Holland and Elaine Miller of Bearsden and Milngavie U3A with a description of what U3As do and how they operate and what the U3A means to them personally. Then Pat Garland, Chair of the U3A in Scotland, spoke a little about what this co-ordinating body does. After a lively Question and Answer session Ed took a vote, and on confirmation that the people present (almost) unanimously wanted a U3A in Helensburgh, the more difficult task of trying to form a Steering Committee was embarked upon. Eventually enough people came forward and they will now have proceeded to the next stage in the Start-Up process.

Just one week later on 28th March another U3A was launched in Kinross. Again, a much better turn out than was expected. This time with limited numbers of volunteers, people were having to find their chairs elsewhere in the building. The Hall was literally overflowing with people standing in the doorway. In addition, many other people said they could not attend but are interested in the U3A.

There is a well tried and tested formula for these launch events. Ed Link and Pat Garland once more did their thing in setting the scene and describing what the U3A is. We always try to get someone from the local U3A to talk about what U3As do and this occasion David Combe from Perth U3A did the honours. People come with only a vague idea of the U3A. So, it is important to explain the unique self-help model and how interest groups form and thrive. Also, the opportunity to start something new, no matter how old. Plus, the vast range of activities that U3As get involved in. There is literally something for everyone so long as two or more share a common interest.

After a unanimous vote a Steering Committee was formed and now Kinross start the journey to becoming a fully functioning U3A. If Helensburgh and Kinross succeed it will bring the total number of U3As in Scotland to 52.

If you know anyone, anywhere in Scotland who is interested in hearing more about the U3A, just drop a line to Ed Link at and let him know.
Ed Link
NEC Trustee for Scotland

Successful All Scotland Assembly at Kelso in the Scottish Borders

The All Scotland Assembly held in Kelso Rugby Football Club on 26 March 2018 was attended by 56 delegates, representing 24 member U3As and including two observers from a potential new U3A. Pat Garland, Chair, U3A in Scotland and Andrew Wilson, Chair, Four Border Abbeys U3A, welcomed everyone.

In the morning session issues of accessibility and inclusion were addressed. Hilary Jones, Chair of U3APlus, spoke on ‘Promoting inclusivity and accessibility for members with any impairment or disability’. Liz Hurst, Lip Reading Tutor, gave a talk entitled ‘Look hear, read my lips’. Steve Barker from Three Brethren U3A gave a moving account of his own experiences with hearing loss. During their presentations and the Q and A session which followed, all three speakers gave us much to think about on how to enable all our U3A members to be able to join in and contribute.

During the lunch break we enjoyed a delicious spread organised by Four Border Abbeys U3A. In fact, the catering was the highest rated item on the feedback form! As usual the lunch break provided a welcome opportunity for members to chat together, get to know each other and share information about their U3As. During the morning and afternoon sessions John Alexander from Four Border Abbeys U3A worked valiantly to sort out problems with the technical equipment.

In the afternoon Ed Link, Third Age Trustee for Scotland, gave an update on Trust matters, changes to constitutions, and the launch of new U3As in Helensburgh, Kinross and Gourock. Then Hilary Fraser from Cupar U3A spoke about the Beacon System for U3A membership records and gave a practical demonstration. This was very helpful to those who were considering using this system or wanted to know more about it. The session ended with an Open Forum giving a further opportunity for more general discussion.

The feedback on the day was very positive with most aspects rated ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

For photos of the event follow the links on this page.

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.