|Hilary Jones||01352 780324|
Maybe I shouldn't say so but the Wales Conference on May 9th was a great success! Over 35 U3As represented and 90 delegates spent the day in the Metropole Hotel, LLandrindod Wells who looked after us very well. We heard about the Network Link, from 2 national Subject Advisers, about Shared Learning Projects (SLPS) and also about some inovative ways our U3As are Learning Together with outside communities and Universities. We heard about the progress of the Coastline and Borders Project and were all impressed by the exhibition of the work done so far. It was excellent. We welcomed our national chairman Pam Jones and also the S West regional trustee Jill Nicholls. But the day belonged to the members and all the ways they contribute to our great organisation. My sincere thanks to everyone who helped on the day. The discussion results will be posted on the website soon.
I attended the Network Link meeting in London on May 1st, for representatives from all the networks in the UK. It was enlightening to meet up with our colleagues from a wide variety of areas and who all do things slightly differently. We heard from National Office staff about workshops available, who is who in N O and also about GDPR, something that worries many U3As. However we were reassured that whilst advice is available on the national website - there is little to be very concerned about as U3As hold minimum data on their members. There was time to hear from many of the delegates and gain new ideas. It was really disappointing that I was the only representative from Wales. I hope that will be different at the next meeting in October - as it was a valuable day.
On friday 13th April I travelled down to S Wales to attend the S Wales Network meeting. It was good to meet the 20 people who attended representing 10 of the S Wales U3As. The Network is planning some useful workshops and training days and considering a social event. I do hope other U3As will join them, realising the benefits of belonging to the Network and help make it a success. I am very grateful to Dafydd Evans and LLoyd Evans for taking on the role of joint chairmen.
It was great to have all 4 Network chairmen attend at our Regional meeting on 10th April. Along with the S Wales Network secretaries and several Trust volunteers we had a good day of discussions, exchange of ideas and events. These meetings are invaluable both for me as Trustee but also for the Networks. We were able to discuss the Conference, the next Network Link meeting in London, the very successful ongoing Coastline project, the new Table Tennis Championship and this year's short story competitions. Also mentioned was U3APlus and the need to raise awareness about our members with impairments and disabilities and how to assist them. As I am standing down as Wales Trustee in August , to stand for election as the national Vice-chairman - we also talked about nominations for my successor.
Apart from my bi-monthly trip to London for the 2 days of NEC meetings this month, I also attended the national EGM in Birmingham on March 21st. It was an historic day as we were voting to change our constitution and bring it up to date. My thanks to all the Welsh U3As who used their proxy votes and a special thanks to Newport U3A and Hay U3A whose representatives came to the meeting. It was vital that members attended in order for the meeting to be quorate and so be able to vote the resolutions through. It was also good to have a chat face to face! It is always a pleasure to hear how our members are getting on and the things that they are doing.
It has been a quieter month for me, just as well with the amount of snow we have had up here in N Wales. I hope you are all keeping warm and safe.
I hope most of the Welsh U3As will send a representative to the EGM at Birmingham on 21st March. Please also sign up for the Wales Conference on the 9th May, it is entitled Learning Together. Lots of useful ideas for everyone.
I was delighted to hear from Cardiff U3A about a new Science group they have started together with Cardiff University. Local U3As are invited so if any of your members are interested - do look at the Science group page on the Cardiff U3A website. More information is there. Well done Cardiff.
The Third Age Trust put on its first national workshop called 'Keeping it Legal' in Leeds. It was great to see and talk to members from across the UK whilst learning more about current legislation to do with Data Protection, Safeguarding and Equality. There are at least 2 more workshops scheduled and I have asked if one in Bristol could be considered for our South Wales U3As. If possible do send a representative of your U3A along - some essential information is provided.
A Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2018 will be a year where your U3A grows and flourishes, taking care of all its members.
A big Thank You to Flintshire U3A who put on a great display at the Ageing Well in Wales event in Wrexham on 16th January. I was delighted to join a number of FU3A members who happily spreading the word about U3A and its wonderful benefits to help us all age well. Over 100 people heard us explain about U3A, what is happening locally and also the brilliant Coastline and Borders Celebration which is being organised by Stuart Murray of FU3A. Do look at the Wales website and join the closed Facebook group giving all the details, contributions and ideas for this tremendous project. As Trustee I am delighted to hear how it is bringing U3As together, how our neighbouring regions are being invited to join in and how it is showcasing what our beautiful country means to us all.
As Christmas approaches I would like to wish all Welsh U3A members Nadolig LLawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda. A very Happy Christmas and a busy, healthy New Year. I would like to thank all those who have been working hard in the region on behalf of the U3A. I have enjoyed my second year as Trustee and been so grateful for all the help and support I have received from all the wonderful people I have met. Thank you, all of you!
On 5th December, I was very pleased to meet up with some of the North Wales U3As at a training morning where they were going to be guinea pigs! Chris Winner(Flintshire) and Carol Loughlin (Dyffryn Conwy) have done a great job in putting together a workshop aimed at new committee members. The 3 of us have had some pleasant sessions working out what to include that would be useful. At this trial, the presentation was well received, the discussion sessions proved popular and the feedback at the end gave us a couple of ideas to improve the workshop. It is now available for any U3A or Network in Wales to use, along with speakers notes. We have made it as user friendly as possible.
A second round of Volunteer Training took place in LLandrindod Wells on 17th November delivered by our new national Advice and Volunteering Manager Sophie Wellings. It was good to see 2 of our Welsh Volunteers Sandra Ivinson and Rod Evans there for a very useful day on the start-up procedure of a new U3A. We are always pleased if someone comes forward to be a volunteer - to assist all our U3As where ever help is needed. It is not just about starting new U3As but assisting in any other ways. Carol Brown, one of our N Wales Volunteers was a great help at the Theme Day.
Reformation and Revolution was the title of N Wales Network Theme Day held on 14th November and hosted by Bangor U3A. Over 100 members of North Wales U3As were introduced to aspects of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and then the Reformation in 1517. The lecturers, from Bangor University were diverse in their presentations but very informative. Both they and I were impressed by the quality of the questions from the audience at the end of each presentation. I was delighted to finish the day with a vote of thanks to all those involved. Well done, Bangor U3A.
Llandudno U3A did an excellent job promoting the U3A at an Ageing Well Celebration in LLandudno. The day was hosted by AM Janet Finch-Saunders and I was delighted to meet Sarah Rochira the Older People's Commissioner for Wales. A wide variety of organisations from the Fire Service to MIND to the Centre Of Sign-Sight-Sound were represented. The place was buzzing with visitors and it was good to see U3A as part of the great things available to older people in Wales.
On the 1st November we were able to announce, via the Wales website, the winners of the Short Story Competition. Well done to the winners and congratulations to all who entered - you are very talented. Gareth Williams the new Welsh subject advisor presented Marlis Jones of Newtown U3A with the prize in the Welsh language category.
On the 2nd November I was delighted to present Marlene Clarke of Flintshire U3A with her prize in the Welsh Learners category. The English category winner is Chas Griffin of Carmarthen U3A and he will have his prize presented soon.
My very grateful thanks to all those involved in the organisation of this competition, it would not work without you.
On 27th October, Surrey Network held a Development Day entitled Keeping Everybody Welcome with speakers ranging from A GP, to representatives from Hearing Link and Sight for Surrey. Don't worry - you are on the Wales website - as chairman of U3APlus I was invited to attend and to close the day with some relevant words. The day just underlined the need for U3APlus. U3As will all have members who need a little extra support to access the interest groups and activities in their U3A. The website we are developing will offer a range of advice and information for all of you to use.I hope it will be available to you all before long.
On 11th October, I drove down to Newtown, Mid Wales for a regional meeting. This is our second this year and everyone finds it so useful to meet face to face. We discussed our networks, events in U3As, in the Networks and nationally. We explored a new committee member's workshop presentation which has been devised by a small team from Wales and which will be trialled in North Wales. We hope to make it available for all our Welsh U3As. 3 of our Networks were represented and 3 of our RVs. A successful day.
On 10th October I got a very warm welcome when I visited National Office to get some advice and help with U3APlus and to talk to our new training officer Sophie Wellings who is arranging RV training for our volunteers in Wales. It is hoped that members will call in to Lant Street if they are in London. So interesting to see how are national office works. In the afternoon, I had a meeting with Marc Powell from RNIB to establish a link with that organisation.
A treat! - we were invited to the official opening of the new National Office, as part of our NEC meetings on 4/5th October. The office is super and it was good to meet all the staff - I also met Eric Midwinter one of our founders. Look on the U3A facebook page for pictures.
What a friendly U3A Cardigan is! I was invited to speak to them on 28th September about the structure of the U3A and the wider U3A family. I had a lovely afternoon, given a very warm welcome and met about 40 of their members plus a few from neighbouring Newcastle Emlyn. No one fell asleep and I was asked some thoughtful questions. To cap it all the sun shone. It is a beautiful part of Wales.
The next day I talked to members from across the West Wales Network. It was an opportunity to discuss a range of topics such as attending 2 U3As, committees and the reasons for changing committee members regularly, how to improve communication, what is happening in Wales, the Welsh language and its use in U3A and the benefits of belonging to a Network. A very productive morning and again a lovely warm welcome. I had met some people via email but it is great to put faces to names. Thanks to Pete Mears (chairman) and Hazel Towle (secretary it is an active, successful Network. Well done to all and my thanks for your support.
I have had good feedback about the 2 Newsletter Workshops that our webmaster Nick Talbott delivered to members from across Wales on the 19th and 20th September. He is running another on 17th October , there are still a few places. Please contact me if you are interested.
I went to London on the 5th September to chair the inaugral meeting of U3APlus. This a new project whose remit is to advise, help and support all U3As to ensure that all their members with disabilities and impairments can access the informal learning within their U3A. There will be a website , as a subdomain of the national website, available in the next 2 months. Please watch for it as it will contain useful information for all U3As. If your U3A has already considered accessibility and has something in place - please let me know. We want to gather as many examples of good practice as possible - to share with all U3As. I have been joined on the Management Team of U3APlus by 2 Welsh members - Chris Evans of Maesteg and Gary Denyer of EbbwVale. Great to have them with me.
The first Welsh U3A Table Tennis Championship was held in Cardiff on the 6th September with teams from North, South and West Wales entering. The event was hosted by Table Tennis Wales and everyone had a great time. Well done to all who competed but congratulations to Gaynor Evans and Graham George of Pembrokeshire U3A who were the winners. It is planned to repeat the event again next year and I hope that the report that will be on the Wales website and on the U3A Facebook page, will encourage more U3As to join in next year.
The National Conference in Nottingham, was a great success, 29 - 31st August. I was delighted to see 10 Welsh U3As represented, especially our 2 newest U3As, EbbwVale and Gilwern. As they had been formed in the last year, they were given a free place at the conference and I am sure the delegates got a great deal from the speakers, the workshops and talking to other members from across the UK. All 4 Networks were represented and I hope those who attended will feed back to their Networks. I find it particularly useful to meet the Welsh delegates in the 'Meet the Trustee' session as I can hear about their U3As and pass on any useful information.
Please do encourage your members to look at and use our website, if you have any event or special achievement to publicise, please let me know.
Three of our Regional Volunteers attended refresher training on 4th July, with Sam Maugher our CEO and were joined by a new Volunteer being trained - Rod Evans from Newtown U3A. Please do use these Volunteers - they are trained to help U3As and start new ones when required.
On July 6th I met with Alan Stephenson , Chief Executive of the Welsh Bridge Union. He is keen to forge a partnership with the U3A and we hope to run competitions between the two organisations. He also offered free taster sessions to any U3A interested in starting a bridge group with help in purchasing equipment at very competitive prices. Raising awareness of both organisations will be of great benefit. Bridge is good for the brain and the memory, it can be very social - and competitive!
Good to hear that a number of our Table Tennis Interest groups are entering the competition to be held in Cardiff on September 6th - provided by Table Tennis Wales. Good luck to them all.
I have been asked to chair the U3APlus, a project which will offer help to all U3As to ensure that members with a disability or age related impairment, can access all the informal education on offer within their U3A. If your U3A has any measures in place to assist - would you get in touch with me and tell me about it. We will be providing advice and examples of good practise once the team is in place. Thank you.
It is always a pleasure to be able to accept an invitation to visit a U3A and meet the members. LLandudno U3A had its AGM on June 6th and asked me to come and speak to them. Their's is a U3A that has grown rapidly but they have a lively number of groups and now have a committee determined to make a difference. I did manage to take a holiday but was able to catch up on the emails when we returned. Much of my U3A time is spent answering queries, pasing on information to Networks and U3As, offering help and advice when asked and meeting interesting people. I was very glad to hear that the South Wales Network had met and now have joint chairmen in LLoyd Evans from Cynon Valley U3A and Dafydd Evans from Cowbridge U3A. My thanks to them for coming forward and I hope that the Network will go from strength to strength.