Chair’s Chat – September, 2019
I have just had the privilege and the pleasure of representing and flying the flag for Worksop & District U3A at the 2019 Conference and AGM, held at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham. I had a wonderful time. I listened to speakers, followed presentations, took part in workshops, wined and dined, voted at the AGM, took part in a quiz, spoke to many fellow members from all around the UK, heard a wonderful talk about The Medici, Florence and Golden Age of Art, and even saw a magic show! I picked up loads of ideas for weird and wacky interest groups (bet that’s got you scared!). After two-and-a-half days of total immersion in things U3A, I now feel that I know and understand what the U3A movement is all about, and the more I hear the more impressed I become and the more honoured I feel to be a small part of it. A lot more people are now aware of Worksop & District U3A than before.
Every U3A is an independent body, and it is easy to forget, or even to be unaware of, the vast machine that is working away at National level to keep the whole thing going. Sitting amongst 450 delegates representing 430,000 members in 1,040 U3As in the UK certainly puts things into perspective. National Office has a staff of 14 full-time equivalent workers, and the extent of their activities is vast. Much of their work goes unnoticed by grass-root members, but without it the U3A would not be able to function as one of the largest volunteer-led organisations in the country.
I cannot possibly feed back everything I learned at the Conference, but I will do my best to pass on relevant information over the coming months to ensure that our membership is kept up-to-date as the Trust embarks on its new medium-term Development Plan which will have implications for us all.
Headline news at Conference was the fact that, without telling anybody, the U3A has rebranded itself!
Did you spot the difference? At last - not before time in my opinion - ‘The University of the Third Age’ has been ditched, except for relationships with educational institutions. The strapline under the logo will be the not-so-new Learn, laugh, live, though oddly this version doesn’t appear yet on the National website. The intention is that the stand-alone logo will become recognisable for what the movement does, not what the letters stand for, much as the BBC and the yellow arched M of Mcdonalds speak volumes to everyone as to what they mean. The Trust stopped short of actually changing the name on the grounds of cost, given the huge number of changes that would be needed, and the drive to raise the profile to make the logo universally recognised forms a major part of the Development Plan. Watch this space!
I have much more to say about the Conference, with a very real danger of boring everybody to death, but this will have to do for now as I want to get the Chat done before I head off on holiday tomorrow for a week. See you all at the September general meeting.
Chair’s Chat – August 2019
Firstly, apologies to those amongst you with sharp memories who may have found last month’s Chair’s Chat vaguely familiar. That’s because you read it in July last year. I inadvertently attached Chair’s Chat – July from 2018 instead of the one I had just written! The correct version was distributed by email next day, so hopefully everyone is up to date.
What a fascinating talk we had at the last meeting. In 2018 Chris Vasper undertook the Marathon des Sables at the age of 56 and suffering from MS. His account of the 7-day experience had everyone on the edge of their seats. A mixture of slides and film clips took us across the Sahara Desert and was so vivid I almost felt the blisters! Amazing! We wish him well when he goes back for more next year.
Next month’s speaker is delivering a talk under the intriguing title of ‘Tax, Cars and Toy Boys’. The mind boggles! I have no further information, but I’m sure it will be fascinating.
Later this month I’m attending the U3A Conference and AGM at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham. The three-day event is packed with workshops, eating and social events, so I’m really looking forward to learning a whole lot more about the organisation and networking with people from all around the country. I hope to come back with loads of ideas of interest to our own branch.
Whether you are off on holiday, visiting friends and relatives, helping out with grandchildren or relaxing at home this summer, enjoy yourselves and make the most of your time.
Chair's Chat - July 2019
At our June general meeting we warmly welcomed The Wells Singers, from North Anston. They sang a medley of familiar and much-loved songs from yesteryear, under their conductor Jim Hardy and accompanied by an expertly produced keyboard soundtrack, and their sheer enjoyment of singing shone through. Many of the audience couldn’t resist joining in with their favourites! It was a wonderful, relaxed and entertaining afternoon, and I would like to thank the singers for all the hard work that goes into preparing for a performance, and thanks especially to our own Denise Gregory, a member of the group, who arranged the visit. I do hope we see the Wells Singers again at a meeting next year.
Our guest speaker at the next meeting in July is Chris Vespa, who will give us an entertaining account of his experience taking part in the Marathon des Sables, a 250km run across the Sahara Desert, described as The Toughest Footrace on Earth: “an extraordinary race for extraordinary people in an extraordinary place”. His presentation is humorous and he is a great storyteller. This promises to be a fascinating talk, not to be missed, along with the opportunity to catch up with all that is happening in your U3A. Tea, coffee and biscuits as usual, and a very warm welcome.
Tickets go on sale next month for our Celebratory 40th Anniversary Afternoon Tea, a memorable event open to all of our members and definitely not to be missed. As well as delicious food, we will be grandly entertained by singing group Blu Crew, Matthew at the piano, and young musicians from Ranby House School. Don’t forget to dig out your photographs and share your memories with everyone. Please let Jean Brenchley have them as soon as possible.
By happy coincidence, our speaker in October is Wendy Bain, retired teacher and Housemistress, and currently chief Archivist at the School, who will be telling us about the history of Worksop College. Since she began delving into the Archives several years ago, Wendy has unearthed hundreds of photographs and documents relating to the School since it opened its doors in 1895 with 5 masters and 44 boys. She will be sharing some of these tales of characters passing through, from famous pupils to eccentric Heads. Even better, Wendy is keen for us to visit the Archives, and to show us around the school buildings. I hope to arrange for a group to visit after we have heard the talk, probably in November or December or early next year. Her talk will be a wonderful scene-setter for our celebration, so be sure to get to the October meeting.
Finally, fingers crossed, I’m delighted to announce that our Travel Group will continue to run. A small group of people have come forwarded to help Bob and Ann with arranging day trips, and possibly weekends and longer holidays, in the future. This is great news, and maybe occasional trips to the theatre could be included in their programme? More details to follow.
Summer holidays are upon us, and most groups are continuing to function whilst some will be taking a break. However you plan to spend your summer, enjoy yourselves and continue to learn, laugh and live with the U3A!
Chair's Chat - June 2019
Wasn’t it lovely to listen to the young musicians who entertained us so admirably at the AGM? It’s always heart-warming to hear young voices, and the instrumentalist were superb. What a great way to round off the afternoon, following the important, though less than riveting, business of the AGM. St Anne’s Primary school is keen to further links with our U3A, so if you have a group that you think could join the children for an activity I’m sure the Head Teacher, Mrs Middleton, will be pleased to hear from you.
Following the elections, I’m delighted to welcome two new committee members – Peter Fillingham and Maggie Loxton – and wish them well in their future efforts to support our U3A. We also have two members who have expressed an interest in coming along to see how the committee works, with a view to perhaps being co-opted onto the committee.
In case you missed the AGM, I’m pleased to announce further details of our VSE – Very Special Event! You will all be aware by now that 2019 is our 10th Anniversary, and our Celebratory Afternoon Tea is to be held in the Great Hall of Worksop College on Saturday 2nd November, starting at 1 pm. Following a welcome drink, Afternoon Tea will be served and enjoyed accompanied by pianist Matthew Wright, Musician in Residence at Ranby House School. Entertainment will then be provided by Blu Crew, the Group many of us enjoyed at last year’s Christmas Party, who will be performing a set piece and playing dance music, and children from Ranby School. The highlight will be the ‘Photo Display Through the Years’ – will you recognise yourself in 2009? This will illustrate the development of Worksop & District U3A over the last 10 years and I, for one, cannot wait! Tables seat 10 people, and tickets, £10 each, will be on sale at the August general meeting onwards. Details of how to get your tickets will appear in the Newsletter and on the website. Please note that the Anniversary event will replace the Christmas party this year.
Chair’s Chat – May 2019
As I settle down to put together my twelfth (gosh – that’s hard to spell!) Chair’s Chat, it is time for a bit of reflection.
Twelve busy months, twelve Committee meetings, twelve Chair’s Chats, and I and our U3A have survived (relatively unscathed, I hope!). It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since I stepped into the Chair’s shoes at the last AGM. It has been an interesting year. I have learned a great deal about the U3A, I have met many more members and made many new friends, and I have increased my monthly tally of groups that I attend to about 12, or it will be when I venture tentatively into the new beginners’ Thai Chi group next week. I have learnt to sing in public (no comments, please!), to make clay pots, to do cryptic crosswords, to speak a bit more Italian, to almost keep up with the boys at table tennis, and how to play Mah Jong. I’ve enjoyed many lovely strolls, even more lovely lunches, and continued to thrash the steel pan. I have tried to learn more about Natural History, but there are still too many birds, butterflies and trees for my tiny brain to remember, and enjoyed knitting and nattering with the Craft group. I have had a delightful holiday, and been to the theatre a few times so see high-profile productions. Most of all, I have enjoyed the company of like-minded people, shared the laughter and a few tears, and kept myself active and interested, which is what the U3A is all about.
I hope as many of you as possible will attend the AGM next week, Thursday 16th May, 2.00 in St Anne’s Church Hall. We promise to keep the boring stuff to a minimum so that we can enjoy watching the children from St Anne’s primary school, who will be joining us, and the afternoon will be rounded off with tea, coffee and CAKE! Yes, CAKE.
A reminder that the Travel Group and Theatre Group are looking for new leaders/co-ordinators. Please think about whether it’s for you. Also, don’t be shy if you have a lurking skill/passion that you could share with others and consider starting up a new group. Belly Dancing has been suggested! The Committee will support any new start-ups, and new ideas are welcome.
Best wishes to all
The Framework Knitters Museum talk due to be held at the June general meeting has been postponed at the Speaker’s request. An alternative speaker will be arranged.
Chair’s Chat – April 2019
I’ve just been away for a long weekend break with my family to Ashbourne, in Derbyshire. We went glamping – a first for all of us. Our accommodation was a Safari Lodge – a large tent with an upstairs bedroom and all mod cons. Yes, genuinely under canvas but with a double bedroom, fully equipped kitchen, shower room, sitting room and dining table complete with TV downstairs, three beds on the upper level and our very own hot tub outside the front door. Real camping, but without the hassle of putting up tents and even the odd touch of luxury. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but we enjoyed ourselves and got to see most of the attractions on offer in the Peak District, including the Plague Museum at Eyam. Three nights is enough, especially in early April. The nights were freezing, and on the last night there was a howling gale all night!
If this puts you in the mood for holidays and travel, then a reminder that our own Travel Group is in need of new leadership. This does not necessarily mean organising holidays abroad, but could simply be planning a one-off day trip to your favourite local destination and liaising with a coach company or local tour operator. Perhaps you could give this a try and build up to weekends and holidays, or perhaps a team of travellers could get together to keep the Travel Group going by sharing the planning.
Similarly, our Theatre Group is now looking for new co-ordinators. Tony and Joyce Honey have been running this group for a number of years, but now feel that they would prefer to step aside and let someone else have a go. We are blessed with several excellent theatres in Sheffield and Nottingham, offering professional productions, as well as our local amateur theatres, and because transport is arranged this is the only way many of our members can get to the theatre. It would be a shame to lose the Group. Our thanks go to Tony and Joyce for sharing their love of the theatre with fellow members over the years. If you feel you could take over this thriving and much-loved group, please speak to Tony and Joyce, or Roger, the Groups Co-ordinator, for more information.
The March General meeting saw over 100 people renewing their memberships, looking at the Interest Group displays and enjoying the opportunity to sit and chat with friends over refreshments. This will be repeated at the April meeting, with more Groups showing what is on offer in our U3A. A reminder that even if you have paid to renew your membership online, you still need to complete and return a Membership Form so that we have your signature granting permission to use your data in order to comply with GDPR.
The General Meeting in May is, of course, our AGM, to which all members are invited and given the opportunity to vote for the next Committee. After the business of the meeting, a group of children from St Anne’s School is coming along to entertain us, so it should be a lovely afternoon. Please make every effort to attend the AGM and exercise your vote. It really does count, even in these days of on-trend voting, where if you don’t like the ourtcome you can vote again, and again, or have a referendum, or risk no deal on May 16th! Enough political chit-chat – just use your vote, If you can’t make it to the meeting, please use the voting papers you have received and return them to the Business Secretary.
Chair’s Chat – March 2019
A big thanks to those who helped out at the General Meeting last month. The setting up and clearing away went much more smoothly and was done quickly – a bit too quickly in the case of those who got turfed out of their seats before finishing their cup of tea! Apologies – and noted for next time! Please feel free to stay on and drink your tea at leisure. The lay-out will be a little different this month and next, as there will be no speaker. Please take advantage of these two meetings to come along and renew your membership, sign up for the Third Age Matters magazine (£2.90 for the year’s postage) and look around the Interest Group displays to see what’s on offer. Stay and chat to friends, and enjoy a relaxed cuppa.
Which brings us to the May meeting – our AGM. You will be receiving the relevant documents well in advance, including the Minutes of the last AGM. Please read these carefully, as there will be a limited number of copies available at the meeting. The AGM is, of course, very important to the running of our U3A, so please make every effort to attend on Thursday 16th May, 2pm. All members welcome.
We heard at the last General Meeting the sad news that Bob and Ann Fearn have decided, after many successful years, to hand over the reins of the Travel Group. The Group has enjoyed many memorable holidays, day trips and outings over the years, all immaculately organised by Bob and Ann. They will continue to co-ordinate the existing holiday bookings. On behalf of all the members who have benefitted, I would like to thank Bob and Ann for the hard work and dedication they have given to running the Travel Group. If you are a keen traveller and feel you could possibly fill their shoes as Group Co-ordinator(s), please speak to them as I’m sure they will offer every assistance.
Remember that membership renewal is now due. The easiest way to do this is through the website, by Paypal or BACCS transfer, or you can pay by cash or cheque at the March and April meetings or by post to the Membership Secretary. However you decide to pay, a completed and signed renewal form is required as your signature to give data protection permissions must be renewed annually.
I’m now off to steel band practice, as we prepare for our busy summer schedule of gigs and performances, so I’ll leave you with this thought:
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing”.
Best wishes to all
Chair’s Chat – February 2019
You will all have read the letter from Linda, our Business Secretary, seeking a successor for when she has to leave the Committee in 2020. Also, our Treasurer has included a note to members in this Newsletter.
I cannot over-emphasise how important it is to fill the two vacancies on the Committee at the AGM in May. We have only two vacancies this time, but the crunch will come next year (2020) when as many as 7 members of the Committee will have to step down, having served for 3 years, including replacing the Business Secretary, Treasurer and Vice-Chair. Another 3 of us will have only 1 year left to serve. REMEMBER, NO COMMITTEE, NO U3A! We must start planning for this NOW!
Becoming a Committee member involves attending a 2-hour meeting once a month, on the first Tuesday morning, nothing more. In your first year you will get to know how the Committee works to support the U3A, and get the chance to shadow the executive officers (Chair, Vice-Chair, Business Secretary, Treasurer) if you feel you may aspire to one of these roles in the future. Nomination forms will be sent out with the Agenda and can be submitted prior to the AGM. Meantime, have a chat with any Committee Member to get the inside story. Please give this some serious thought.
Still on a serious note, I am appealing for help at the monthly General Meeting to prepare the Hall and clear up afterwards. From 12.45, a team of helpers is required to put out 100 chairs and 8 tables, put tablecloths on, set up the PA system and prepare the kitchen for teas and coffees. Our regular team do a sterling job providing refreshments when the speaker has finished, but they can always do with a few spare hands in the kitchen to help with the washing up and putting away. If you can spare an hour to get to the meeting early and lend a hand, it would be much appreciated. At the end of the meeting, everything must be cleared away. One easy way to help would be if able-bodied members could stack the chairs in the row they have been sitting five-high at the end of each row. Folding table cloths and putting down tables also takes time, so perhaps you could help with this. Let’s share the load and avoid having to go down the route of rotas and regular commitment for the few.
On a lighter note, we welcome a new Group to our list: Social Dancing will take the form of a weekly Tea Dance, Friday afternoons at Crown Place Community Centre, off Sandy Lane. We’re promised a full range of types of dancing. Please support this exciting venture. The first session will be Friday 1st March. Thanks to Les Daniels for setting up this group.
At the General Meeting on Thursday February 21st we will welcome our Speaker, Kevin Murphy, who will present ‘We had a POW for Christmas’, giving an insight into our local area after WW2.
The March and April General Meetings give groups the opportunity to show what they have to offer to members, and the chance to renew your membership if you haven’t done so online via the website. Do come along and enjoy a chat over coffee and biscuits.
Best wishes, Sheila
Chair’s Chat – January 2019
Welcome to the first Chair’s Chat of 2019! Hopefully by June I will have got used to it and stopped writing 2018 on all cheques and communications!
I’m delighted to start the year with some good news for all our Members. Due to an increase in membership numbers, and hence more income from subscriptions, we find ourselves in a healthy financial position and able to offer a reduction in the 2019 – 2020 membership fee from £18 to just £15. This is incredible value for everything that is on offer in our U3A and, to borrow a phrase, every little helps.
Your subscription includes £3.50 capitation paid to National U3A and a Beacon fee, and also covers the running expenses of our organisation such as speaker fees, room hire for Committee and General Meetings, and ongoing expenses such as equipment maintenance. Our membership fee has been the same since Worksop & District started out 10 years ago, and after reviewing our income and outgoings our Treasurer has concluded that a reduction is justified for the coming year. Your membership is due for renewal on 1st April, and you can renew online by BACS transfer or Paypal (no Paypal account required) or at the March and April General Meetings, or by printing off the membership form from the website and sending it with a cheque to the Membership Secretary.
During this period we will also be collecting the £2.50 postage charge for an annual subscription to Third Age Matters, the U3A magazine delivered 5 times a year to your door. If you don’t already subscribe, check out the past copies available at the meetings and see what you are missing. You may regard this as a worthwhile investment of your membership savings! Just add your name to the subscription list with your £2.50 to begin receiving your copy.
Yes, mention above reminds us that 2019 is a very special year for Worksop & District U3A. On 2nd November, 2009 a group of people got together for the first ever meeting of our local U3A and the rest, as they say, is history! The event must not go unmarked, so please see the article in this Newsletter for news of how we plan to celebrate the occasion.
In the meantime, enjoy your Group meetings, spread the word amongst the uninitiated of Worksop, and here’s to a happy, healthy and thriving year for us all.
Very best regards
Chair’s Chat: October 2018
This month sees the start of a brand-new Interest Group: Canasta. Suitable for complete beginners and seasoned players, this is a brilliant addition to our list of interest groups and I wish it every success. I would love to learn to play this intriguing card game, but sadly it clashes with another group that I attend. It had to happen – I attend around 10 interest groups across the month so the week just isn’t long enough! The group meets on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday, Thievesdale Community Centre, 9.30 – 12.00, commencing on Wednesday 17th October.
Interest groups are, of course, the life blood of the U3A. We are very fortunate to have access to 39 active interest groups across a wide spectrum of activities and interests. This is a remarkable achievement in the 9 years that we have been in existence. It slightly rankles that Retford is beating us by 3 extra groups at the moment. In the interests of research, I went onto their site to glean some ideas. I came across some fascinating group titles, including Architecture, Cosmology, Orienteering, Philosophy and Investigating Dowsing! Come on folks! Get those ideas flowing and let’s get some new groups going. It’s also worth considering reviving some of the groups which have discontinued for various reasons and are sadly missed. With an ever-growing membership (6 new members last month alone) it is possible that there is fresh interest for things that have been tried in the past.
Just to show that I practice what I preach, turn to the article in this Newsletter entitled Proposed New Interest Group: Cryptic Crosswords and read about an exciting new group I’m hoping to establish in the near future. I get great pleasure from sitting down with a cup of tea and The Saturday Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword, a beast of a puzzle with around 60 clues and varying in difficulty according to the setter each week. It can keep me going for several weeks if I think I stand a chance of completing it. Very rarely (in fact never if I’m honest) does this happen, but occasionally with the help of my daughter we have come close. I was delighted to learn that the U3A has a number of Cryptic Crossword groups around the country and even provides a Cryptic Crossword Subject Advisor and specially produced resources to get groups started! Do join me on this journey to learn the secrets of the cryptic crossword by following a carefully designed course book for beginners. So much more fun to learn together (and by the way, Retford doesn’t have one!).
Best wishes to all
PS We welcomed three visitors to the Open Committee Meeting this month. They enjoyed the cake so much they want to come again, and may even consider joining the Committee. Result!
Chair’s Chat – September 2018
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes to keep your U3A running smoothly? With over 400 members and 40+ interest groups, what holds it all together? Why do we need a Committee? What does the Committee do? What happens at a Committee meeting?
Well, wonder no more! Your Committee is delighted to invite you to our next Committee meeting, to be held on Tuesday 2nd October, Thievesdale Community Centre (next to Christchurch), 1 pm – 3pm. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month, and are always open to members who wish to attend, but this one is an extra special Open Committee Meeting, with tea and cake, to give you the chance to see and hear just what is discussed and decided on your behalf. Please do take this opportunity to find out what it’s all about.
First and foremost, we have a Committee because without it we would not have a U3A. Every U3A branch becomes a member of the Third Age Trust, which manages and oversees all the U3As in the country. Central Office has many rules and regulations which must be adhered to in order to run the organisation legally. It is the Committee’s job to ensure that we are following all the rules. Constitutionally, there must be a Chair, a Secretary and a Treasurer in order for a U3A to exist. In addition, the recommended number of members is 12. This enables the various jobs such as vice-chair, speaker-finder, groups co-ordinator, membership secretary, Health and Safety officer, IT guru etc to be shared and no one person becomes overloaded. Members are elected at the Annual General Meeting, held in May, and in order to keep the Committee fresh our Constitution states that members must serve for a maximum of three years.
At the moment, we only have 11 members, all of them hard-working and dedicated to the task. Ideally, we would like even more than the suggested 12, so that we can be ready next May when we will be losing two members whose terms of office will come to an end.
So what goes on at a meeting? The Agenda is usually routine, with reports from the officers and general business. We discuss any issues that arise from Central Office, or are brought to our attention by our own membership. Votes are taken on issues where there may be disagreement. We have a lot to get through, but we also have a laugh and hopefully it is an enjoyable experience. So far on my watch we have had no fisticuffs, and we can usually reach an amicable agreement. And we are very fortunate in having a committee member who bakes excellent cakes, so with tea and cake on the Agenda each month what more need I say?
Do come along next month, or indeed any month, to get a feel for what keeps Worksop & District U3A on track. I think you will be pleasantly surprised, and who knows? You may even be tempted to join us at the next AGM (or even before then, as a co-opted member).
Whilst I’m in arm-twisting mood, I would love to hear from anyone wishing to organise a one-off social event, such as a beetle drive, race night, quiz night etc, for your U3A. I know you are out there – people with amazing ideas and suggestions for entertaining your fellow members. With new members joining us every month, it would be wonderful to offer something a little different from time to time. The Committee will give any support needed, so you will not be on your own. Please come forward, and let’s have some fun!
OPEN COMMITTEE MEETING - TUESDAY 2ND OCTOBER - THIEVESDALE COMMUNITY CENTRE 1PM – 3PM
TEA AND CAKE - ALL WELCOME!
Chair’s Chat – August
One of my earliest memories is of a school trip to Chester Zoo. I would have still been at primary school, and the excitement of the day stays with me. I took a photograph (with a very crude Brownie camera I suspect) of a llama face-on. The photo won a competition back at school, and I was very proud. Since then, I’ve had a soft spot for llamas but I have never been back to Chester Zoo!
I’m sharing this with you because the title of the talk at this month’s General Meeting on Thursday, August 16th is ‘The History and Foundation of Chester Zoo’, with Stephen Lovell. The zoo had very humble beginnings, the dream of one George Mottishead and his family, and it is a fascinating story. Do come along and listen to what I’m sure will be an interesting and entertaining talk from Stephen, our guest speaker.
Of course, the Speaker is not the only reason to attend the monthly General Meeting. Held on the third Thursday of the month at St Anne’s Church Hall, from 2.00, the Meeting provides the easiest way to keep up with what is going on in YOUR U3A. Notices are displayed on-screen at the beginning of every meeting; important announcements are made; tea, coffee and biscuits are served, and some Groups such as Travel, Theatre, Gardening and Lunch Groups, have tables displaying all the latest information, allowing you to make bookings and payments on the spot. Even more importantly, the Meeting provides the chance to meet and chat to fellow members from outside the Interest Groups that you attend. This is vital to allow new members to feel welcome and to help them integrate, as well as widening your own circle of friends.
Recently we have been treated to the joys of music-hall comics and reminded of the dogs we all watched as children on TV, and we have some exciting titles coming up. I urge you to attend, for all the above reasons, to keep our branch alive and thriving. Give it a try – there is no charge for the tea and biscuits and you may get a whole lot more out of it! I look forward to meeting you all there.
To whet your appetite, these are the up-coming talks:
Thursday 16th August: The History and Foundation of Chester Zoo, Stephen Lovell.
Thursday 20th September: So You Think You Are British, a look at our roots with John Taylor
Thursday 18th October: Mary Queen of Scots – 1- A return visit by David Templeman, following the power cut on his last visit
Thursday 15th November: Mary Queen of Scots – 2- David continues with the second part of his talk on this fascinating historical figure.
Chair’s Chat – July
What does your U3A membership mean to you?
I recently went on a Wildlife holiday in the Scottish Highlands with a group of 23 strangers from all around the UK. Naturally, much of the chat revolved around where people lived, how they had travelled there, had they been before? As the week progressed, it was much more about where they had been that day, and what wildlife they had seen (we spotted 96 species of birds between us, not to mention badgers, pine martens, dolphins, whales and otters, to mention a few). What surprised me, however, was how often the U3A came up in conversations. Whenever it was mentioned, it provided an instant connection, a talking point, a comparison of different activities taking place all over the country.
Similarly, the National Workshop I attended in Birmingham on ‘Keeping it Legal’ attracted over 200 delegates, again from all over the UK. The opportunity to talk to people from other U3As - some very small, with only 100 or so members; some huge, with over 1,000 – was fascinating. Problems were shared, solutions discussed, ideas and suggestions offered. The sense of ‘community’ and like-mindedness was overwhelming.
Both of these experiences reminded me that Worksop & District U3A is a very tiny branch on a vast and spreading tree (not just in the UK but overseas as well). If you have a spare half-hour, go to our website and click on the link to ‘The U3A Story’ on the ‘Welcome’ page. This gives a detailed and interesting account of how the organisation got started in this country in 1981. Or you can visit the National U3A website to find out what’s going on elsewhere, or subscribe to Third Age Matters, the magazine.
Membership of the U3A is so much more than a weekly game of badminton or the occasional trip to the theatre. It’s a sense of belonging to an organisation which exists purely to help older retired or semi-retired people to get the most out of life, and to avoid the pitfalls of loneliness and depression in old age.
Are you making the most of your membership? Whether you joined just to attend one activity that you have a particular interest in, or whether you like to spread your wings and try lots of new things, the opportunities are there for you. Check out the list of 40 Interest Groups by visiting our website or logging onto Beacon. 2018 could be the year that you pick up a musical instrument for the first time in your life, or that you take up a new sport or return to the sporting days of your youth. Don’t be shy, just come along and make yourself known.
Looked at the list and not found your ‘passion’? Do you have knowledge of or interest in some unusual or obscure topic? Don’t keep it to yourself. There may well be others out there dying to share it with you. It only Takes 2 or 3 enthusiasts to start a new group, so put it out there and test the waters.
Most of all, enjoy the summer and keep on Learning, Laughing and Living.
Chair’s Chat -June 2018
“Who IS this Sheila Massey?” I hear you say. “Never heard of her”.
OR “Oh THAT Sheila Massey. She’s in the … group. Never saw that coming”.
Well, here I am, so I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself.
I joined Worksop & District U3A 5 or 6 years ago, when the novelty of retirement was wearing thin and giving way to boredom. I went to an Open Day at the Savoy and earmarked a couple of potential groups as I went around the tables, but I was drawn to a group of silver-haired ladies and gents bashing out Christmas carols on strange-looking drums. I loved the sound, but what really attracted me was the fun they seemed to be having (I now realise these were grimaces of concentration rather than smiles of Joy!). Could this be it? Something new. Something different. Something challenging.
They turned out to be Steelpantastic, Worksop’s own – and possibly unique both inside and outside the U3A – steel band for retirees. They were playing pans, not drums, and yes, they were about to start a training band. A few drawbacks: I’m tone deaf, have no sense of rhythm, and I’m totally unmusical. No problem, they said. Come along.
From day 1 I was hooked. Hopeless, but hooked. It was two years before I came close to hitting the right notes in the right order, but I got to wear a snazzy bright blouse and a flower lei, so what’s not to like? Since then I have branched out into 9 or 10 other groups and I joined the Committee at the 2017 AGM.
When I’m not busy with U3A, I can be found volunteering as a Welcome Guide at Mr Straw’s House or attending the 60+ Fitness, Friendship and Fun group that I help to run at Carlton Civic Centre.
My membership of the U3A, and the friends I have made, have helped me through two very difficult years. I owe the U3A, and I hope to repay a little by serving alongside my hard-working and supportive Committee members to ensure the continued success and growth of our branch.
I hope to meet many more of you over the coming months, but please seek me out if you have any concerns, requests or stunning ideas. I’m all ears.
I leave the final word to Mary, a member of Well Versed, our brilliant guests at the AGM, in her introduction to their act:
“I had a look at your website. You seem to have a lot more fun than some of the U3As we come across. If I lived nearer, I’d even join!”
That will do for me!
Chairman's Chat - May 2018
I would like to start this Chair’s Chat by saying that it will be my last one; it will be a short one this month as my Chairman’s Report at the AGM will contain more information regarding important items that have been undertaken by the Executive Committee throughout the past year.
At the AGM next week, we will be asking for two members to join the committee to bring us up to the recommended maximum of twelve people. So far we have not received any nominations; if you think you could come on to the committee then please come forward. We need you urgently!!
We also would like to expand the numbers of members that would be willing to help with setting up the sound and projector equipment at the General Meetings. Additionally if there are members with IT skills conversant with using Power Point to produce the Announcements for each meeting then please come forward. This will be extremely helpful in allowing John Beaty and myself time for a holiday!! (Not together!!) Since introducing the Announcement system I have not missed a General Meeting.
If you are able to, please attend the AGM on Thursday 17th May, PLEASE NOTE THE START TIME IS 1.45pm and it will be followed by entertainment provided by Well Versed; a group with music and verse presenting “Come Fly With Me” on the joys of air travel. They come highly recommended.
Over the past few months many of you will be aware of my email reports asking for vigilance regarding emails and the use of bcc (blind carbon copy). This is still an ongoing problem and it does need addressing as highlighted below as it is important to comply with Data Protection.
The following is an extract from the April edition of the U3A National NEWSLETTER which can be viewed on the National Website.
“When sending an email to a number of recipients, to avoid revealing their names and address to the other people in the email make sure you use blind carbon copy (bcc), not carbon copy (cc). This is an important part of the compliance with data protection.”
The Worksop & District U3A Web Site gets around 4,000 page views per month and is a valuable source of information. So please don’t forget to keep checking the site for all our latest updates and interest group information.
I would like to finish my last Chair’s Chat by thanking you, the membership, for supporting me throughout the past year and look forward to the future of Worksop & District U3A with a new committee and new Chair.
Chairman Worksop & District U3A
Chairman's Chat - April 2018
As we are now reaching the end of the current financial year within our U3A I have been reflecting over our many achievements during 2017/18.
Many of you have already noticed and benefitted from the ease at which the Beacon System has allowed us to renew and pay our membership on line using Debit/credit card via PayPal or BACS. Indeed, things have moved on at an incredible pace with the introduction to the Beacon Project for our U3A branch. This system now makes it considerably easier for the issue of notices and messages, both from the Committee or individual Group Co-ordinators.
The Beacon Team led by John Beaty have worked extremely hard to get the system up and running and we should all be very grateful for their commitment. Training sessions on the use of Beacon for Group Co-ordinators are now taking place and I hope that you will all make the effort to attend. John, Gwyneth, Sharron and Roger have all offered their time freely to run the sessions.
The Group Co-ordinators who have already attended have all commented on how easy the system is to use. It allows emails to be sent out to each group members without having to worry about the “Bcc” facility, thereby conforming with our Data Protection Policy. As I have mentioned in previous Newsletters and emails it is so important to protect all our member’s information.
We have a lot to be thankful for when Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee first developed the World Wide Web in 1989. It has improved the speed of which we can all communicate with one another. However, we do need to be mindful along with ever advancing technology we do also increase our exposure to the unscrupulous through a risk of hacking etc, hence the need for systems like Beacon.
Additionally, the Worksop & District U3A website will still operate alongside Beacon. Since I started the role of Webmaster in July 2013 there have been a total of 222,876 pages viewed on our site which contains 57 pages and 657 photographs showing activities from our 38 special interest groups.
To emphasise the usefulness of the Website the following list shows those pages that received over 50 visits during the last month:-
|Constitution & Policies||168|
There has also been considerable time spent this past year with changes that have been issued from the National Office concerning the Constitution and how Accounts are operated to conform with the requirements of HMRC and the Charities Commission. This has meant increased effort and many hours spent by Committee Members, especially the Treasurer.
Membership numbers have been gradually increasing through the year, our success in part, has to be the variety of activities offered by the Special Interest Groups and the enthusiasm of the Group Co-ordinators who run them.
Beacon informs us that 94% of members have email addresses and therefore access to the web. So please use the facilities that are available to you and in turn you will also assist in reducing the time spent in managing our membership.
I hope to see you popping in to our second group fair on April 19th when some of our Interest groups will be demonstrating their many talents.
Chairman, Worksop & District U3A
Chairman’s Chat - February 2018
Our U3A has now reached an all time high with well over 400 members. This is a credit to the continuing hard work and dedication of those involved with the organisation, both committee members and group co-ordinators alike, not forgetting the general members and their enthusiasm.
Next year will be out 10th Anniversary when I hope we will be able to celebrate in style. Over the coming year we will therefore be looking for volunteers to come forward with ideas and help in arranging an event to commemorate this achievement.
During our 9 year history so far, it is interesting to note that we have had 5 male chairmen (myself included). This got me thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to have a female chair for a change?”
This is particularly pertinent as the country is celebrating the 100 years of the Suffragette movement – Emmiline Pankhurst and her supporters fought so hard for women to be recognised. So let us celebrate this anniversary by having a female chair!
Believe it or not 70 % of our membership are female. Having said that of course we also welcome any males willing to step forward!
On that note I would like to step down during this year after having served on the Committee for a number of years, including 2 years as Vice Chairman and 1 year as Chairman and as a Committee member. During this time I have also been involved with the Newsletter, Publicity, ,Website, Beacon and of course the setting up and running of the General Meetings. I will continue to be involved with these and help wherever I can.
In previous Chairman Chats both myself and my predecessors have all sent out a plea for more help in running the general meetings. It was quite noticeable at the last meeting that a lot of individuals left without helping to clear away. I appreciate some members are not physically able but for those of you who are able – just putting your own chair away is a big help.
On a positive note, the meetings in March and April will give a great opportunity for members to find out more about the individual groups activities at our now annual “Groups Fair”. Both months are promising to be both informative and entertaining; I hope you will pop along and see what is on offer.
This months’ meeting will include an EGM (Extra General Meeting) to allow members to vote on whether our U3A “opt in” for the upcoming changes to the National Constitution as advised by the National Executive. This vote should only take 10 minutes or so to do, still leaving ample time for us to relax and enjoy the Guest Speaker.
Hope to see you all there.
Chairman, Worksop & District U3A
Chairman’s Chat – January 2018
The New Year of 2018 has arrived and I am sure that all of us are looking forward to the nights getting lighter.
The end of 2017 ended in style with the U3A Christmas Bash at the North Nottinghamshire Arena where around 170 members enjoyed themselves. This would not have been possible without the hard work of the team of members who organised the event and those that helped on the day.
Talking of help! The following paragraph is a reprint of part of the previous Chairman’s Chat from 2016. Now we are entering 2018 I am including this as it saves me trying to think of something different to write. However, these comments still apply and are still relevant.
U3A committees in general are often very much undervalued, but without them things would frankly just not happen. The monthly general meetings could not be. No hall would be booked, or paid for. No one would welcome you, there would be no information boards, no speaker booked or paid for. There would be no PA system, projector or laptop to enhance the meeting. The refreshments wouldn’t happen. The interest groups wouldn’t have a central support team and help to form new groups. There would be no web site for communication, no newsletter, no trips, no social events. The finances would not be managed. There would be no insurance, for cover at meetings. There would be no membership records, or vital help with communications through a membership secretary. There would be no one to carry out any forward planning. To summarise this paragraph, there would be no Worksop & District U3A!
Nothing changes. I make no apology for the above (which is a reprint of part of one of John Beaty’s Chairman’s Chats). It is the case that the success of our U3A is due to those who give their time to help with running the U3A by:-
• Being a Committee Member
• Managing the Accounts
• Managing correspondence
• Managing membership applications and records
• Meeting and greeting new members
• Being a Group Co-ordinator
• Helping set up the hall for monthly meetings
• Compiling the Newsletter
• Managing the Website
• Monitoring Health & Safety
• Setting up the Beacon System
• Organising Teas
• Etc etc etc
I could add quite a few more tasks – Volunteers for these tasks are always required – if you have a skill which would be useful, or just pure enthusiasm, then please contact us and let us know.
The other fact that is apparent from the above list is that some members cover two or more of the roles and indeed have been doing so for up to 4/5 years and may not be able to continue for various reasons
Under the U3A constitution the committee members only have a set length of time to be able to serve, meaning we are continually looking for new members to come on to the committee. I mention this now because the AGM in May will be with us sooner than we think. So now is the time to come forward.
There will be some major changes this year with the introduction of the Beacon System. Group co-ordinators will be contacted shortly to be introduced to the system and also receive training. It will make their task in contacting their group members considerably easier
To finish, I would just like to say I hope you all enjoy the individual group activities that are planned throughout the coming year and that you continue to support our U3A. Please feel free to contact me, or indeed any of the committee, if you would like to support us in any way you can.
Chairman Worksop & District U3A
Chairman’s Chat – December 2017
As the Festive Season draws ever closer I’d just like to once again offer my thanks to all of you who worked so hard to make our U3A so successful during 2017.
As you are all aware the main Ethos of the U3A is to be self funding with each group supporting themselves financially. This means that no one is paid for their services and without the dedication of group co-ordinators, and in some cases, instructors, we would not be able to learn such wonderful skills. We are all therefore extremely grateful to those members who give their time and knowledge freely.
I hope next year we can continue to grow and become even more successful.
On behalf of the Committee, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.
Finally our thoughts are also with family and friends of the members we sadly lost throughout the past year. They are sadly missed.
Chairman Worksop & District U3A
Chairman’s Chat – November 2017
As the year comes to a close it is a pleasure to look back and see our U3A steadily growing in numbers, keeping the Membership Secretary and the MAGS Team very busy each month. Indeed, as the December Newsletter will be a shortened version I will take the opportunity in this edition to convey my thanks to those members of the U3A who works tirelessly behind the scenes to keep our U3A running so smoothly. This includes all the members of the committee whose dedication is second to none; all the co-ordinators who work so hard to organise their individual group activities; the Meeters & Greeters (MAGS) team who work so hard every General Meeting to greet all the members to the meeting and welcome new members; the Refreshment team who always provide our tea and coffee with a smile on their faces and the people who help with the setting up of the hall at the beginning of the meeting. On this note may I send out a plea to anyone who is able and willing to help with the chairs, tables and setting up of the sound equipment etc – not forgetting helping to put them all way at the end of the meeting. Extra help is always greatly appreciated.
Whilst on the subject of “thanking” people I would like to thank Linda’s team of people who are working hard to organise this year’s Christmas Party. The afternoon has been planned to allow a relaxing time to eat lunch served to your tables, with plenty of time for socialising and a great opportunity for you to meet people from other groups. before the entertainment starts. A few tickets are still available so please hurry and order yours before the General Meeting on the 16 November and show your support.
We must always remember that all the above organising is due to the good will of members giving their time willingly and voluntarily to ensure we all enjoy our many activities within the U3A.
On a more serious note our U3A Beacon project has been progressing steadily with the Sub Committee working to ensure that all the data has been input into the system. We now have a live system following the entering of all 408 members into the Membership file. The groups have all been set up and their names are ready to enter into each of their groups. The next stage is to get some guidance in place for the group co-ordinators to be able to use the facilities that will, I can assure you, make your jobs easier for you. The Beacon Team, together with the main Committee, are at the same time formulating a Data Control Policy to protect this information. You can be assured that the system that is in use by U3A branches nationally only allows access to the absolute minimum of people that need to know.
To finish, I would just like to say I hope you all enjoy the individual group festivities that are planned throughout December and remind you that the December edition of the Newsletter will be a shortened version to allow the Group Co-ordinators to provide information of January meetings and activities.
Chairman Worksop & District U3A
Chairman’s Chat – September 2017
First of all may I say a big “Thank You” to all of you who sent in articles for the August Newsletter. This enabled Gillian, our Newsletter editor, to produce a very informative 8 page Newsletter. Hopefully this will be repeated for this month’s edition – so please keep sending the articles in.
Now that September has arrived and the nights are noticeably drawing in the Groups such as the Gardening Group and the Natural History Group are moving indoors for guest speakers etc. Throughout the Summer months I understand they have all enjoyed trips out to various local places of interest. They are always on the lookout for new places to visit so keep bringing your ideas along to the groups – this will help the co-ordinators tremendously.
The Summer months have also seen our “performing” groups getting out and about entertaining at local venues. This really helps to raise the profile of the U3A and indeed helps to attract new members. So “thank you” to Steelpantastic, The Swing band and the Ukulele group – keep up the good work.
Throughout October the Photographic Group will be holding their third Biennial Photographic Exhibition in the Gallery at Worksop Library. This event is well worth you going along and having a look at the talent we have amongst us.
In the background a “Christmas Party” Sub Committee has now been formed. They have been busy with the initial planning of the Party which will be held once again at the North Notts Community Arena on Thursday, 21st December. A popular local singer will be there to entertain us with both easy listening music and some dance music. The event will start at noon and hot food will be served at 1pm to provide you with lunch. Tickets are expected to be on sale at the September Meeting. Keep a look out in the Newsletter and on the Web for further details.
Also in the background the Beacon project team have been busy producing the necessary data required to “go live” during September. I would like to thank John Beaty for all his hard work as Project Co-ordinator.
Chairman Worksop & District U3A
Chairman’s Chat – August 2017
To begin my chat I can clarify our “Reciprocal Agreement with other U3A’s in our area”. It has recently been reported that there was a problem for some of our members accessing individual groups in the Retford U3A. I have spoken with the Chairman of the Retford U3A and we would like to reassure you that members from Worksop are welcome to attend any of the Retford U3A groups without being a full member of the Retford U3A. The agreement is that you pay for the costs levied by the individual group. However, if you wish to join several groups then you should join as an associate member.
We have now had two full Committee meetings and combined with the developments that will take place with the implementation of Beacon System for Management of U3A Administration, various changes and developments will be going forward in the coming months.
The main change will be the electronic recording of member’s data which will aid the management of Groups and their associated members and assist the Group Co-ordinators with monitoring their groups. This is also a tremendous benefit for the membership administration. Coupled with this it has been necessary to review and update our Data Protection Policy. Beacon revolves around Data with the management and security of members information.
The procedures for setting up new groups is also under review with Group Co-ordinators being asked to confirm their groups participating members recently. In addition, the policy for Health & Safety will also be reviewed.
Our new Treasurer has completed the transfer of the accounts from Kath Turner, our previous Treasurer, and has added some comments as follows:
Worksop & District U3A finances are well organised and healthy. In keeping with U3A National guidelines and our status as a charity, we have three accounts:
• for Subscription income, capitation and committee expenses
• for groups that have an Education element
• for groups and functions that are mainly Social.
Some groups manage their own accounts and this can be effective where income and expenses are small. It is worth remembering that group leaders are bound by the financial requirements for all charities. This means recording income and payments, keeping petty cash to a minimum (less than £100) and ensuring that every group is self-funding. To minimise risk to individual group leaders, it is best practice to avoid using personal credit/debit cards/cheques wherever possible and to get the treasurer’s advice where this is likely to be a problem. Any group with a turnover of more than £200 pa is strongly recommended to use a dedicated paying-in book for either our Education or our Social account.
Financial issues for discussion in future committee meetings will include:
• Funding policy for existing and new groups
• Budget projection for 2017/2018
• Implications of changing to Beacon
• On-line transactions
The Treasurer’s email address for any financial question you might have is email@example.com
Finally, when all this is combined the various sections of Beacon will assist and hopefully make life easier for members with particular responsibilities for keeping our U3A running smoothly.
Chairman Worksop & District U3A
Chairman’s Chat – June 2017
Firstly I must give thanks to the retiring Committee Members, in particular John Beaty who has continually worked to keep our U3A functioning.
As you will now know other members of the committee also had to stand down (in accordance with the Constitution) at our AGM. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Lorraine Wood (Business Secretary), Kath Turner (Treasurer), Gwyneth Beaty (Membership Secretary), Mary Mitchell (Groups Co-ordinator) Vickie Seth-Kosoko (Speaker Finder), Gloria Williamson (Projects) and Margaret Grimshaw (Committee Member), for their time and effort that they put in whilst serving on the committee.
For those of you who were unable to attend the recent AGM. I would like to inform you all that we now have a Full committee thanks to those members who put their names forward.
At our first committee meeting on Tuesday 6th June 2017 we discussed the roles of Committee Members and
the following roles have been allocated as follows:
|Vice Chair||Diane Graville|
|Business Secretary||Linda Butterfield|
|Membership Secretary||Carol Stokes|
|Speaker Finder||Ron Parke|
|Groups Co-ordinator||Sharron Gorton|
|Committee Member||John Stanford|
|Committee Member||Sheila Massey|
|Committee Member||Eric Wade|
|Committee Member||Roger Hancocks|
Other non-Committee Roles are managed by the following members
|Beacon Project Leader||John Beaty|
|Beacon Administration||Colin Brenchley|
|Web Master||Colin Brenchley|
|Newsletter Editor||Gillian Tomlinson|
|MAGS Co-ordinator||Jean Brenchley|
Members should also note the time and effort that is put in by the Group Co-ordinators who manage the 36 groups that now exist within the Worksop and District U3A; without their dedication the groups would cease to exist.
May I just say that whilst this dedicated team of people strive to keep our U3A vibrant, whilst dealing with the “business” side of things, it is also up to every one of you to contribute wherever you can too.
If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments the committee will always be available to advise or guide you wherever possible. Likewise, if you would like to organise a new group or an event then this too is possible.
I look forward to the Worksop & District U3A continuing to succeed.
Chairman Worksop & District U3A
Chairman’s Chat – May 2017
I would like to start this Chairs Chat by saying that it will be my last Chairs Chat – some will say thank goodness. At this year’s Annual General Meeting I will be stepping down from the role of Chairman, as my three-year term of office finishes at that meeting. I have quite enjoyed putting together a few lines, hopefully of interest to someone, outlining what has happened through the previous month and in some cases what the future is offering.
Will we ever get some warm weather! The very cold winds are now starting to get annoying and making days out feel uncomfortable. Over the past month, we have had two days out to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and on both occasions the wind was blowing from the north east. Not good. However, it was nice to be out in the fresh air and get some cobwebs blown off us.
As you will now know there are several members of the committee standing down at our AGM, next week. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Lorraine – Business Secretary, Gloria - Projects, Kath - Treasurer, Vickie – Speaker Finder, Margaret, Mary – Groups Coordinator, for their time, effort and the dedication they have put into the past three years and in some cases longer than three years. Thank you all very, very much.
At the AGM next week, we will be asking for three members to join the