RISE AND RISE OF 'THIRD AGE'
When Eric Midwinter, the then director of the Centre for Policy on Ageing, recorded an interview for BBC Radio Four's 'You and Yours' programme on 22 July 1981, he was unprepared for the' tsunami' of letters that followed.
The First Age, figured Midwinter, is when you learn at school; the Second Age is when you attain the skills for work and bringing up a family.
But no one ever talked about the Third Age - and if they did, it was in disparaging terms.
As people in their Third Age become healthier and younger in mind and spirit, it was time for them to manage their own lives.
Learning, stimulation, new interests and friendship, believed Midwinter, help ensure that the Third Age was a time of enjoyment, not a downward spiral as had so often been expressed.
The onslaught of letters from radio listeners was the trigger that led to the birth of the U3A the following year.
Today there are 892 U3A's and 317,138 members throughout the UK with many more in the pipeline.
The thousands of active, enthusiastic U3A members are proof of Midwinter's theory that the Third Age is the best time of your life!