It’s exactly 40 years since the University of the Third Age welcomed its first “students”. But these were not students in the conventional sense – there’s very little studying done and nobody comes away with a degree!
u3a was set up in 1982 to give retired and semi-retired people (plus those who had devoted their lives to raising a family) the opportunity to meet and learn together, and to take part in a wide range of activities designed to keep body and mind active. Its meetings are totally informal, all activities are led by members and it is self-funding, relying on a very modest annual membership fee and a contribution to the venue and refreshment costs.
The u3a slogan is “LEARN, LAUGH, LIVE” which neatly sums up the spirit of the organisation and the reason why there are now over 1,000 local groups across the UK with 400,000 members.
One of the largest local groups is in West Bridgford, and plans are well advanced to celebrate the 40th Anniversary in style. On Thursday 22nd September, members will come together at the Baptist Church at 2.00pm to be entertained by the hugely popular folk band Fool’s Gold and this will be followed by a complementary cream tea, with all the trimmings. Meanwhile, a celebratory Beacon will be travelling from group to group around the county, culminating in a presentation with musical accompaniment at Highfields Park at 1.30pm on Saturday 24th September. West Bridgford will be playing its part, accepting the Beacon from its sister group in Beeston and parading it to The Park in Nottingham as the next stage of its journey.
Chair of the West Bridgford u3a, Joe Colls, sees this as a great opportunity to increase awareness of u3a and get across all the benefits of membership. “There is no lower age threshold for joining u3a but it appeals most to people in their mid-fifties and above who are looking for interesting things to do in the company of other friendly people. Our interest groups include everything from Art, History, Photography and Languages to Table Tennis, Walking, Cycling and Zumba. There really is something for everybody and many of our members belong to several groups.”
As well as the individual group meetings – typically fortnightly or monthly – there is a monthly open meeting with a guest speaker and plenty of opportunity to chat over a cup of tea or coffee.
Joe says “I think some people got out of the habit of going out during the pandemic and may now be feeling a little isolated. The u3a is the ideal way of re-connecting – no pressure, no obligation but lots of reasons for being cheerful!”
Anybody wanting to learn more can do so by visiting the West Bridgford u3a website or sending an email to John Tidmarsh, the Membership Secretary at [email protected]