Welcome to Thanet U3A

The University of the Third Age (U3A) is a National Organisation for people aged 50 and over.

Our Thanet membership year runs from April to April. The cost is £16 for Single Membership and £28 for Joint Membership (2 people living at the same address). To join a group or attend a U3A event you MUST be a Thanet U3A Member! As a member you will receive our Thanet Newsletter and Third Age Matters Magazine 4 times a year, plus, you can attend all our U3A talks completely free! You may also like to join an Interest Group or apply for a Course, go on an outing and attend various U3A events.

To join THANET U3A, please email via the Contacts Page. Your membership will now begin in January and you won't need to renew until April 2021. We always welcome new members who are willing to help run groups, courses and events.

Please note, everyone in Thanet U3A is a VOLUNTEER and sometimes we have holidays or family visiting and cannot always respond to your enquires immediately. We are currently in the process of changing Membership Secretaries, our new Secretary Chris will be up and running in January.

Membership renewal is now overdue, if you haven't renewed yet, please, please do so quickly! Many thanks.


We would like to wish all our members a very happy Christmas!

There are lots of different volunteering opportunities, but they are particularly keen to recruit for educational tours and activities.

Please email for more information on how you can help or follow the Links page to Monkton Nature Reserve.


We have a Thanet U3A Facebook page looked after by our Vice Chair Jacqui Wellbrook. All members are welcome to join the Facebook Group for up to date information.

Our U3A TALKS are held in St. Peter's MAIN Church Hall at 2pm for 2.30pm start. Come at 2pm and enjoy refreshments and a friendly chat first. FREE to all members. Our next talk is about Gilbert and Sullivan by Bernard Lockett on Thursday 25th July.

Broadstairs now has ongoing Literary Events throughout the year.
BroadstairsLit has its own website
Please go to the Links page.

The Dickens Fellowship Broadstairs Branch meet for interesting talks by distinguished speakers at the Pavilion, Broadstairs on the first Wednesday of the month at 7pm. Visitors are always welcome to attend for £5 or you can become a member for the year for only £15. Many U3A members also belong to the Dickens Fellowship. Please go to the Links page.

For information or to join The Arts Society Thanet, please go to the Links page.

Jo Renton is our current Thanet U3A Chair until 2020, members can read her regular reports in our Newsletter.

An Introduction to Thanet U3A by our past Chairman Colin Harvey

U3As are self-help, self-managed, lifelong learning co-operatives for older people no longer in full time work which provide opportunities for their members to share learning experiences in a wide range of interest groups. Not for qualifications, though, but for fun or personal satisfaction. Each U3A is autonomous and different.

Peter Laslett, the driving force behind the setting up of the U3A in Britain in the early 1980s, was determined it would be a self-help, self-financing organisation that would never be dependent on public funds. Envisaging a membership made up of retired people who after a lifetime of experience would collectively have acquired a vast amount of knowledge, he summed up the philosophy of the new organisation succinctly:

"Those who teach shall also learn and those who learn shall also teach."

Unlike earlier models of similar organisations that had already been set up in other countries, his vision for the U3A in Britain was of groups of people getting together to learn about a common interest or topic. Rather than having a single teacher, each group would instead be organised by a group leader or convenor to co-ordinate and help guide the efforts and studies of the group’s members.

After ten years’ affiliation with Canterbury U3A, by 2003 there were sufficient numbers of members in Thanet to set up our own independent branch. Since then Thanet U3A has developed its own identity and thrived. Under the chairmanships of Margaret Fairbrass and Janet Pitt membership rose to more than 400. Hardly surprising, given the staggeringly wide range of courses and activities that now regularly take place under the aegis of the branch. When a lady interviewed on BBC Radio’s Woman’s Hour recently was asked how she had eventually fought off the overwhelming crushing boredom and consequent depression that had descended on her following retirement from a successful professional career, she replied, quite simply, ”The U3A.” By providing her with fresh intellectual stimulation and opportunities to learn new skills while also bonding with a range of new friends, she explained, her life had been reinvigorated and given a renewed sense of purpose.

Our mission as a cooperative in Thanet U3A is to create just such opportunities for local people and we are proud that last winter members participated in 20+ study courses and, in addition, the 40+ Interest Groups which met regularly for members to practise and develop their skills in a wide range of activities (country dancing, gardening, drawing and painting, to name just three).

Then there is our programme of bi-monthly talks organised by Bev Whitehead, the high quality of the speakers and fascinating range of topics regularly attracting large audiences. Former Chairman Margaret Fairbrass, on the other hand, organises a programme of regular coach trips throughout the year to places and events of cultural interest (such as the London art galleries’ major exhibitions, for example).

Although the U3A ethos of shared learning will always be our major inspiration and raison d’etre, we also value the comprehensive programme of social activities that take place throughout the year – the summer Strawberry Garden Party, for example, and the ever popular Cheer in the New Year & Quiz Night. Then there are the convivial gatherings of the Lunch Club, organised by Mike Baker and Geraldine Stone, whose members come together to enjoy good food and the lively conversation in local restaurants.

That’s why with so much going on, with so many life-enhancing opportunities available to our members, we are proud to belong to Thanet’s thriving U3A . Proud, but not complacent, for we are constantly on the lookout for new avenues to explore and recruit new members to bring fresh ideas to enhance our programmes and range of activities.


Origins of Thanet U3A by Our President Margaret Fairbrass

In 1992 some members of Canterbury U3A decided to get together and start Thanet U3A. Friends of Mr Samuels and Mrs Pat Williamson were gathered together and met at the house of Cyril and Elizabeth Whitehead. Mr Dale-Green from Canterbury offered his advice and support. It was agreed that Canterbury would take them under its wing and deal with financial and administrative matters. The title changed to Canterbury and District U3A. Members of both groups were eligible to attend all talks, courses and social functions and all had equal voting rights at AGMs.

In the first 10 years numbers grew. Meetings were held in various venues including St. Andrew’s Church, Reading Street and Broadstairs Library eventually settling in Pierremont Hall, Broadstairs. The number of courses on offer grew and talks were varied and interesting.

With increasing numbers in Canterbury and Thanet it was decided to set up on our own. Canterbury also no longer wished to go on supporting us. Saturday social meetings were then held in the Charles Dickens public house in Broadstairs. At one of these meetings, with the encouragement of Joyce Bonnotto, it was decided to set up a steering committee to organise the break. George Burgess was Acting Chairman, Gwen Kay was Acting Secretary and Margaret Fairbrass was Acting Treasurer. Gwen Kay did all the hard work setting us up with charitable status and organising all the details and paperwork necessary for us to become a separate organisation. In November 2002 a meeting was convened to elect a permanent committee and apply for charitable status. Other committee members were Derek Score, Sheila and Leo Rule, Norma and Peter Wright, and Dorothy Stevens. A constitution was agreed and adopted on 14th November 2002. Charitable status was granted on 8th January 2003.

Since then Thanet U3A has developed its own identity and thrived. Currently we have about 300 members. Each U3A is autonomous and different. Thanet members offer courses on many subjects with a mixture of the academic and practical. We have many interest groups for members who have similar enthusiasms and wish to share them. We continue to believe in the U3A ethos of shared learning, have a thriving social network and are always on the lookout for new avenues to explore.