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February ❤

Dear <<First Name>>,

As we near the end of February, we are beginning to look forward to new beginnings.

The Member Link programme launched this week. This is a collaboration of members, committees, volunteers and the Trust with the aim of renewing our energy to sustain and grow our u3a-wide community. You will hear about the programme in this newsletter and more in the coming months.

We have pulled together ideas from the past, and ideas that have evolved from u3as during Covid to share the best of what we can do.

Please share the newsletter with your u3a friends and encourage them to sign up so that they can hear what is happening movement-wide.

Keep sending us your ideas too, every idea counts. I hope you all keep safe and well and I hope you enjoy this newsletter.

With regards,
Sam Mauger
Chief Executive
In this issue...

Member Link
u3a Poetry Competition Winners
u3a working with Barclays Digital Eagles
Click here to open the newsletter in your browser, in which format you can zoom in to make it easier to read.
Your Stories

"In the first months of the pandemic, we sent out a daily ‘Light Relief’ email to members which is now a twice-weekly newsletter.

e were very mindful from the start that we have a small number of members who hadn’t given us an email. We contacted them and since have been making ad-hoc phone calls. 

We have all made progress online, particularly with Zoom. We run a regular Speakers Corner and a monthly quiz. Both the Shakespeare and Poetry Groups hold regular meetings whilst Photography meet twice a month via Skype. Group Leaders have been keeping in touch with members via newsletters."

- Christine, Mawdesley Villages u3a

News from the Trust

Member Link

This month, we launched Member Link, a new initiative to support u3as. Member Link collates in one place advice, tips and resources to keep us all connected. 

Member link is about the whole u3a community, trustees, members – online and offline - staff and u3as coming together to help and support each other to keep connecting, learning and laughing. 

Leaflets have been sent to every u3a committee - to see the leaflet, click the button below. There is a greyscale version further down the newsletter which you can print off and post if you would like to share it with your colleagues who are not online.

Find out more on the Member Link page.
Member Link Leaflet

A Newsletter Milestone

Thank you!!!

We have smashed through our target of 30,000 subscribers due to you - we are now at 30,500 and counting - so thank you so much for your work sharing the message to sign up to the newsletter.

Please keep going for us - if you haven’t yet encouraged your u3a friends, please do. It is a fantastic way to bring our u3a community together and especially important at this time. You can sign up directly on our website.

u3a Radio Podcast

The latest episode of u3a radio podcast - send your story ideas to us.

Download your Bitesize Newsletter

Our Bitesize newsletter is a shorter, printable version of the newsletter to post for those not online - or to share as a snapshot of what the newsletter is all about for those not yet signed up.

We have also attached the greyscale version of our member link leaflet for those not online - which you can send alongside the Bitesize Newsletter.

Bitesize Newsletter
Member Link Leaflet for Offline Members


Winners of u3a Poetry Competition

The u3a poetry competition, which saw nearly 200 submissions from members across the movement, has announced its ten winners. 

One of the judges commented,  “It was a pleasure and a privilege to be a judge in the u3a National Poetry competition. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. The clever and witty poems I read are a credit to the poets and testament to the creative talent with in our u3a movement.”

The first, second and third placed poem will appear in April’s edition of Third Age Matters and on the website after publication. Read the top ten entries on our website.
Shirley Ford of Merton u3a submitted this photo into u3a eye under the 'Number and Letters' theme. See more about u3a eye on our website.

Learning Initiatives

As we very slowly edge towards Spring, the Learning team will be launching new initiatives to celebrate the change in season while still learning and keeping inspired.

Make sure you carry on looking at our learning pages to find out what we have on offer. 

Our online talks are extremely popular and we continually release more spaces and workshops so please do keep checking back on the events page.
Your Stories

"When Covid hit last year, Edinburgh u3a looked at contacting members who would appreciate buddying up with someone for a chat. Committee members phoned those not on the internet and also emailed all members, as some who did have the internet still appreciated phone contact.

As I had co-ordinated the system I phoned around in January to see how they were doing and most still had their Buddy or Buddies."

- Doreen Barr, Group co-ordinator for Edinburgh u3a

u3a News

Cirencester u3a Walk A Mile and Smile 

Cirencester u3a encouraged members to walk in their neighbourhoods for a Walk A Mile and Smile challenge. Every mile was tracked on a virtual journey around Britain. The above photos are some of those taken by members on their walks around Cirencester.

Vice chair of Cirencester u3a, Anne Vardy, said, ‘Over 75 members contributed miles. The enthusiasm and joy  was inspiring and members not able to take part cheered at our progress. We walked 2,850 miles.  Who would have thought that walking around Cirencester could be such fun.’

Maghull & Lydiate u3a walked 5,000 miles in 3 months. Read about it on our Sources blog.
Have you photographed any elephants or anything else unusual on your walks? Send your photos to us.

Croydon u3a Flipping Fantastic

Croydon u3a has got almost 70% of its interest groups operating via Zoom.

This month, Croydon u3a merged their February quiz with a pancake flipping competition to see who could flip the most pancakes in a minute. The winner was Bob, who flipped his pancake 79 times in 60 seconds.

Barnsley u3a Wins Award

Barnsley u3a have recieved an Age Friendly Barnsley award. 

Chair, Alan Swann, said, “Barnsley u3a is proud to receive this award which recognises the work that we do.'  Read the full story on our website.

Trust u3a Countdown to COP Discussion Group

Two members of Trust u3a have set up a discussion group, ‘Countdown to COP.’ In the lead up to the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP), the group will be sharing resources, articles, podcasts and social media posts about climate change. 
Your Stories

"I have been producing a weekly Cultural Catch Up since the start of the pandemic, which goes to about 1,300 people worldwide and more sign up every week.

In this, I recommend online cultural activities and I try to inject my own sense of humour to make people smile. I promote u3a membership when I get the space! I think it is really important during this time to keep brains and minds active, see things of interest and learn new things (even if we forget them afterwards).

I have many emails from people saying how the weekly newsletters have kept them going during these strange times. "

-    Jo Velleman, North London u3a


Photo Credit: J.M.W. Turner, The Parting of Hero and Leander, before 1837 @The National Gallery
Turner and Mythology, with the National Gallery - Thursday 18 March, 11am -£5.50 

In this event, the National Gallery’s Dr Carlo Corsato will discuss Greek mythology in two of Turner's masterpieces, ‘Polyphemus’ (1829) and The Parting of Hero and Leander (1837.)

Maths on the Back of an Envelope - Thursday 15 April, 2pm

In a repeat of our popular talk from last year, join Rob Eastaway as he explores the joy of maths - without a calculator.
Photo credit: Marion Dale (SGD)
Where did our favourite plants come from? - Wednesday 31 March, 2pm

This provides a trip through history to see when and from where some of ‘English’ garden plants came from and when they first arrived in our gardens.  

Live Cookery Demonstration, Springtime Treats - Monday 22 March, 10.30am

Chef Alex from ‘Vegetarian for Life’ will be cooking three vegan recipes: Hazelnut chocolate truffles, Vegetable Korma and a lemon meringue pie.

A Taste of Japan - 24 February, 24 March, 2pm

These talks are part of a series on Japan and its culture.

These and more can be found on our online events page.
Photo credit: Hilary from Flintshire u3a, one of the members delivering presentations for 'A Taste of Japan'.
A recorded lecture from the Guildhall Art Gallery and London's Roman Amphitheatre about  amphitheatres and mosaics. Watch it on YouTube. 

u3a day 

u3a day 3 June 2021

u3a day has a new logo and fresh look.  Has your u3a started planning for u3a day 2021 yet?

Discussions are happening on the u3a day Facebook group, tutorials are providing support to u3as, with the next on 2 March, and there are resources on the website

Sue Stokes, u3a day coordinator, said, ‘Many plans for 2021 u3a day will include digital platforms which are a huge part of u3a life now. The way that u3as responded to the restrictions caused by the pandemic needs to be celebrated.’ For further information please contact Sue Stokes. 

Don't leave your photographing till the day itself - we would love to see how you are preparing for the event, whether you're crafting something or rehearsing via Zoom. Share them with us.

Other Events from Across the Movement


u3a:OnlineAcrossScotland is a free project for members living in Scotland to access online interest groups and courses from local u3as.

It is going well with 14 interest groups and members from Orkney to the Borders taking part. It is a great way to reach out to other parts of Scotland and meet like- minded people. Find out more. 

Virtual Science Network Meetings 

The Science Network Team is planning to hold three short virtual meetings in 2021 on Tuesday 20 April, Wednesday 11 August and Thursday 14 October.
At the April meeting there will be 3 presentations of 45 minutes on topics as broad as chocolate, vaccines and Darwin.  

The Booking form will appear in the March newsletter but find out more about the u3a Science Network on their website.  

West Midlands u3a Online Conference

The West Midlands u3a conference, Tuesday 9 March 2021, will feature advice from how to keep group’s recruitment and interests flourishing to how to handle new technology and social media. There will also be a cookery demonstration, an interactive session of relaxation, and even belly dancing. Sign up here.
Three u3a members are giving talks provided by Kings College London and Queen's University Belfast. Click on the title to book.

Doug Brown: Using online maps for historical research

22 February, 1.30pm

Olwen Purdue: Health in turn of the century Belfast
15 March, 1.30pm

Laura Newman: Transforming Tuberculosis: Scottish medicine and the Post Office Sanatorium Society
29 March, 1.30pm 
Are you running regional events or local events that you'd be happy to share with your region? Let us know and we will share in this section of the newsletter. 
A submission into Winter Watch by Allan of Leigh Estuary u3a. Winter Watch is closing at the end of March - so get your photos in now.

The first part of the u3a recruitment toolkit  is being posted daily on the u3a sources blog with more resources coming on all the time.
Paul Martinez, Chair of the u3a Recruitment Working Group said, "We are working to improve and update each of these resources in the light of feedback from u3as.  We welcome additional people to join our working group. It's a rewarding opportunity to work at the cutting edge of helping develop our u3a movement.  Find out more by emailing me by March 1.

News from the Board

Ian McCannah, Chair of the Third Age Trust 

Thank you to the over 70% of u3a Committees responded to a Membership Survey at the beginning of the year. Their forecast of the impact of COVID-19 on their membership renewals over recent months was one of the questions.

Across the movement, the indications are that on average there will be a 20% fall from the previous year. Within this overall figure, there were significant variations as some u3a committees have been able to maintain some membership activity whilst others have found online technology more challenging.

To assist u3as the Trust is launching two initiatives this month: Member Link, hosted on the website, and a Recruitment Toolkit, hosted on our Sources blog.

With a combination of these local and national initiatives, the movement should be well placed to face a changed environment.
In recognition of the impact the pandemic is having on the finances of a u3a, the Trust has advised committees that the membership subscription will be based this April on the number of members on the books this March 31, instead of, as previously, the highest number in the previous twelve months. The TAM Distribution Charge has also been frozen for the coming year.

Third Age Matters

Share Your Food Photos

Third Age Matters is landing on doorsteps this month, packed full of great stories from across the u3a movement.

In this month’s edition are recipes from Third Age Matters’ regular cookery writer, Beverley Jarvis, including this potato and parsnip bake, pictured as made by Third Age Matters editor, Joanne Smith.

If you make any of the recipes in Third Age Matters, share them by emailing


Stories on our Sources blog this month include a u3a group who walked a cumulative 5,000 miles in three months, the ways that Newcastle u3a have been staying  connected with their members, and a canal group. Read more  on Sources.
Your Stories

"Our recorder group started seven years ago. We had to stop practising together during the pandemic.  We have continued to keep in touch, sending music via email.  We began writing poetry, which has been collected and printed in “Poetry in Lockdown." This is part of the preface written by Irene, 

 'Our recorder group came to the fore,
Not only with music, but, what is more,
We wrote poems, odes and all sorts of rhymes,
Which lifted our spirits in these difficult times,
So why don’t you just take a look 
At all the verse, which is now in a book.
It won’t take long, but in my view 
It will help to raise your spirits too.'"

- Jacqueline Holmes and Irene Schofield, Caterham & District u3a

Volunteer News

Volunteer Coffee Morning 

Have you ever thought about being a Trust Volunteer? If you would like to know more, please join us for our virtual coffee morning on Friday 5 March at 10:30 

A Trust Volunteer is a u3a member who lends their time to support the aims and objectives of the Third Age Trust, outside of their local u3a and Network. Trust Volunteers can fill a variety of roles including; helping in the regions, advising with tech, PR or social media, or by supporting the Advice Line.  

Register for the coffee morning.
Zoom tutorials run every day of the week. The tutorials have been running for a year and you can book these on our online tutorials page. 

Subject Advice Updates

New Subject Advisor for Russian

Chris Rock is the new Subject Adviser for Russian. His interest in the subject began in school.
When asked what he loves about Russian, Chris says, 'my interest has been kept alive by the language itself, along with the music, art, literature and truly eventful history – and, of course, the Russian soul, русская душа, which gets inside you and is never far from the surface.' See more on Chris' Subject Advice page.
Your Stories

"A group of u3a members interested in programming and other aspects of software engineering have formed a shared space on the Slack messaging system to chat, raise questions or give advice.

Discussions threads are organized under topics. The Coding Café is a private closed forum open to all u3a members.

If you would like an invitation to join, or simply more information, please email Ed Link at or Geo Meadows at saying a little about your software interests and which u3a you are a member of."

- Ed Link
Photo shared by Tom Bell, Retford u3a member, on u3a Keeping In Touch Facebook group.

Social Media 

If you enjoy the monthly newsletter, why not follow us on social media for more regular updates of what's happening across the u3a movement, from u3a stories to national initiatives and events.
We are always looking for more social media volunteers to help manage our u3a Facebook accounts. If you are interested, please get in touch.

u3as in the media

Thanet u3a - Kermode & Mayo's Film Review

u3a got a mention on Kermode & Mayo's Film Review after a Thanet u3a member wrote in to mention their course on Women Filmmakers.
Listen on BBC Sounds - the mention is at 27.40 minutes - and if the story intrigues you, keep an eye on our Sources blog where we will be sharing more on this interest group very soon.

Have you contacted your local media? We want to know.

PR Advisers

Spreading the Word

There has been great progress over the last year in getting volunteer Public Relations Advisers in regions across the UK.
Margaret Fiddes, said, 'The plan is to support local u3as and help to spread the word about u3a.  We have a key focus this year with the first ever u3a day, not to mention all the great initiatives that our u3as come up with, and especially over the last year.'

If you would like to volunteer - and especially if you are in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales or the South East - please get in touch with Margaret Fiddes.
Your Stories

"Through various tiers and lockdowns Farnham u3a has expanded its offerings to entertain and amuse its one thousand plus members.

Almost a year after the first lockdown, our specialist interest groups online are wide-ranging, from finance interest to songwriting to the Silk Roads. Pilates classes are now on YouTube and even Wine for Fun has gone onto Zoom – without the worry of getting a taxi home. 

Large group presentations have also transferred to Zoom, freed from the constraints of room capacity. Keeping mind, body and spirit healthy is a priority."

-    Jane Moberly, Farnham u3a

Community Connections

Marie Curie National Day of Reflection, 23 March

To mark a year of Lockdown, Marie Curie are organising a day to come together as a community to reflect on the loss of the last year.
Go to the Marie Curie website to find out more and let us know if you are getting involved.

If you would like to share any reflections or poetry about the last year, contact us and we will share them on our platforms on 23 March.

Online Yoga Programme with Voice

The u3a movement has a growing partnership with Voice, which is part of the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing.  
They are currently running a project called Move, Breathe, Connect and are looking for people to take part in a programme of online yoga-based exercise and movement classes running from March to May 2021 to develop and investigate their impact on wellbeing. Find out more on their website. 

Celebrations and Thank Yous

Thank You

Gloria Budd from Northchurch and Berkhamsted u3a wants to thank Chris Armstrong who since April 2020 has made a twice weekly newsletter. Gloria said, "A lot of time and hard work goes into this and has meant a lot to members. She enjoys composing each newsletter and you can feel her enthusiasm!" 

Elizabeth from Belfast u3a wrote in to say thank you to the group convenor of the Ramblers Walking group, Brenda McHugh. Elizabeth said, 'Brenda is fun and full of great ideas. She encourages us to take and enjoy every positive available in these times."

Is there someone at your u3a that you would like to say thank you to? Get in touch with us.

In Focus

Barbara Cordina, Trustee for the East of England

I joined the u3a in 2008 and held several roles, including being a Trust volunteer, before becoming the Trustee for the East of England Region at the 2020 AGM.

The favourite part of my u3a experience has been the opportunity to learn and socialise with others, and to feel a valuable part of the movement.  I have met many lovely people during my time as a member and shall always value these friendships.
To become a trustee seemed to be a natural progression.  I found that as a trust volunteer I was beginning to feel a responsibility to represent u3as at a higher level.  For me communication with the members on the ground is the most important aspect of my regional role and this move has opened up many opportunities for this.  I also have a valuable team of trust volunteers to help me in my role and we are working well together.
I have gained a whole new perspective on life since I joined the u3a, a feeling that I belong to a successful and caring community.  To be surrounded by volunteers is great because we are all making a contribution.
How would I describe u3a in three words?  Invaluable, Progressive and Supportive.
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