'Deer Friend' by Sandra from Hale & District and Knutsford & District u3as. See more on Winter Watch below.


Dear <<First Name>>,

I wanted to start by saying I know we have all had a very challenging year, managing so many changes in everything we all do.

I have missed visiting you all in u3as in regions and networks and the nations across the movement and want to thank you for sharing all of your stories and ideas with me and my colleagues in the team here at the Trust.

The spirit of u3a and the u3a community to Learn, laugh, live has been loud and clear in u3a everywhere. You have all played a part in keeping the u3a strong.

I want to wish you all a very happy, peaceful and joyful Christmas or festive time, however you spend it. I hope 2021 brings us all back together again stronger and ready for the next step in the journey of the great u3a movement.

With all my very best wishes

Sam Mauger
Chief Executive
In this issue...

Festive editions of the newsletter
Volunteer with TAM
u3a Day Tutorials
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News from the Trust

'Winter Morning' by Barry of Burnley u3a

Learning Winter Programme

As 2020 draws to a close we are scheduling in more learning events and activities for 2021. Have a look at our online events and national programmes pages to get involved. 
More news from learning further down.

Staying Connected 
through the Festive Season

Look out for a festive Newsletter Express on 25 December and for a message from Sam on New Year's Day.
More than ever, this is a really important way for us to all stay connected. If you have u3a friends or colleagues who have not yet signed up to the newsletter, please encourage them to subscribe on our website.

Festive Broadcast of u3a Radio 

Our u3a podcast team have created a special festive episode which will be available to listen to from 25 December.
This is in addition to our regular December episode which you can hear on our YouTube Channel.

If you have a story that you would like to share with the team, please get in touch.
Did you know?

You can turn on subtitles on YouTube by clicking the furthest left icon on the bottom right hand side of the video - the icon is a little box with lines in it.


Thank you for the many emails and phone calls on whether to use uppercase or lower case in our writing. This helped us give clarity in our guidance.

From now on the Trust will refer to the movement in articles as u3a in lower case. This is to reflect the fresh and more modern look of our logo. We recognise that each u3a is an independent charity but hope you will also adopt this change where possible.  

This guidance however does not apply to your legally registered name – for example when dealing with your banks – where you may be registered as U3A or University of the Third Age and should use that.

Your Bitesize Newsletter

Your December Bitesize Newsletter
Your Stories

"We have a virtual Christmas Cabaret booked – a whole variety of acts including a professional Stand-up, varied musical items  including a talented singer sharing Australian festive songs, a young musician and a folk singer, festive wine recommendations from the Wine Appreciation Group, a Christmas Talking Heads monologue and much more. Members will be encouraged to dress to impress and be ready for a toast." 

- Jenny, Croydon u3a 


Paint or Draw

In our monthly art challenge, Paint or Draw, we are encouraging people to submit photos of their artwork. The current theme is ‘lights.'

You can also see a selection of some of the wonderful artwork submitted on last months’ theme, ‘plants’ on the Paint or Draw page on our website, including the above photo by Marie of Epsom & Ewell u3a.

Submit your photos.

Winter Watch 

We are collecting images from across the u3a membership that represent winter. This is a collection of experiences and memories. 
We want to see everything from the beautiful landscapes in your area to your home Christmas decorations, family traditions and home-cooked winter warmer dishes.

See the gallery and submit on our Winter Watch page.

Photo credits: 'Snow & Sun' by Yvonne of Wilton & District u3a, 'Blue Forest' by Lisa of Hartley Wintney & District u3a

British History Speaker Swap Update

The British History Speaker Swap, which pairs up u3as across the movement so that they can share resources, is underway.

The initiative has also been re-opened so that those who didn’t get involved at the beginning can still take part on our learning pages. The new deadline is 31 January 2020.
We've had amazing submissions of Battle of Britain stories and images. We would love to hear your experiences so submit them on our learning pages. 

Join our Maths Challenge Team

Our weekly u3a Maths Challenge has continued to be incredibly popular. We are now looking for more people to create original problems, puzzles and solutions.
If you would like to join the team please submit a sample problem and solution of your own creation to Janine Aldridge.

Submissions will be forwarded to the Maths Challenge team, led by David Martin, Maths and Stats Subject Adviser.

Visit our learning pages to see all our initiatives.
Your Stories

"On 21 December, Wyre Forest u3a will be hosting a Christmas gathering on Zoom. Members can dress in festive dress and “bring” their own refreshments.

The main items will be pre recorded to ensure a smooth event and have involved contributions from many members and groups.

We’re hoping this will raise spirits after such a stressful year, and introduce a bit of cheer for those who will have a quieter Christmas than usual."

- Sue, Wyre Forest u3a Committee 


Van Gogh In Arles

Join Bernadette Murphy, author of Van Gogh's Ear, to learn about Van Gogh's time in Arles, especially the background behind the night that Van Gogh cut off his ear. 

Thursday 28 January - 11.00 -12.30.

A Q&A will be chaired by the National Gallery's Dr. Christina Bradstreet.

Photo Credit: Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888, The National Gallery

Vegetarian for Life Cookery Demonstrations

We will be joined by Chef Alex from Vegetarian for Life for two live cookery demonstrations in January.

Monday 11 January - 10.30 - 11.30 
January Winter Warmer


Alex will start off with Greek Fritters with tzatziki, before making a wild mushroom pudding with onion gravy.
Finally, Alex will demonstrate how to make Orange, Lemon & Pistachio Cake.

Photo credit: Vegetarian for Life
Monday 25 January - 10.30 to 11.30
Burns Night Recipes

Celebrate Burns Night with a festive supper, perfect for rejoicing the memory of the poet Robert Burns.
Alex will be showing us how to make a a warm Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup with flatbreads. The main event will be his vegan haggis before finishing with the Scottish pudding, cranachan.
Photo credit: Vegetarian for Life

Member-Led Events

Murder Mystery Event

Join a cast of talented u3a members for u3a's first national virtual murder mystery event.
At an annual bake off event, shady characters will go to extreme lengths to secure the top prize. Bear witness to the clandestine affairs, unpick the suspicious activity and see if you can work out whodunnit.
Book these events and many more on the online events page of our website.

News from the Board 

Ian McCannah, Chair of the Third Age Trust 

"Over 350 Trust Volunteers are key to how the Trust delivers support and advice to the movement. Without these dedicated members we would not have the financial resources to purchase their expertise. Some of these Trust Volunteers sit on the Trust’s committees. A copy of the list of committees will be available from 4 January on request by emailing or

In the early summer, I asked members for their views on how the movement should prepare itself for the end of lockdown.
Their comprehensive and thoughtful comments were included in a report that I made available to the membership in the autumn. Hopefully, Spring may see the return of u3a activity.

Committees will be looking for ways to retain existing members and to attract new ones. Against this background, I will update my earlier report if members send me their current thoughts on the movement post lockdown. Again, the resulting summary of grassroots view will be given wide circulation, via the Trust's communication channels, in the new year. Comments to please.

Meanwhile, best wishes for the Festive Season and hoping that 2021 will bring with it a return of u3a activity that does so much to enhance our lives."
Your Stories 

“Christmas tree baubles; there are two types, the blue ones are derived from an 18th century Japanese craft called ‘kimekome’,  whereby a pattern is cut into a surface and different fabrics are tucked into the cuts. The method was originally used for doll-making in Japan.  I have made them the modern way using styrofoam balls but the technique is the same. ‘Kimekome’ literally means ‘to tuck into a groove’.  The red ones are done by folding and creating layers of fabric. 

Stella, Guernsey u3a

u3a News

Chester u3a Advent Calendar

Chester u3a has created an advent calendar for their members, made up of submissions from interest groups and committee members.

Members have responded positively to the calendar - in the first five days of December, the Chester u3a website had more hits than in the whole previous month. 

Read the full story on the news section of our website.

Holmes Chapel & District u3a Festive Update

Membership Secretary, Peter, said, "The yarnbombing has attracted a lot of favourable comment and a lot of questions - which was precisely the idea - to raise awareness of our u3a."

Ware u3a Christmas Cards

Ware u3a worked with local schools and establishments to send out 800 Christmas cards to their members.

Third Age Matters

Do you want to help make TAM happen?

We are looking for a volunteer with administrative skills to support the TAM editor. The volunteer needs to be a strong communicator with a friendly telephone manner and a good listener. As part of the role, you will be replying to emails as directed by the editor, mainly communicating with contributors. 

You will need to have experience in organising and taking minutes of meetings, as part of the role involves attending five editorial board meetings a year, scheduling meetings and doing the agenda. 

The role is home-based.

For an informal discussion, contact the Volunteering Officer at 

See more volunteer news below.

February Edition of Third Age Matters

Warm up this winter with delicious recipes for a warming apple and blackberry crumble, a spice vegetable curry, and a potato and parsnip bake by our own u3a member and professional cook Beverley Jarvis.
Plus we look at science-based u3a groups and all your usual u3a news from around the UK. If you have a story to share, please email the editor.  The deadline for the February issue is 1 January.

Photo credit: Beverley Jarvis 

Volunteer News

Zoom Tutorials

Weekly Zoom tutorials will be up and running in January. Book your place on the online events page now.
Your Stories

"Buxton & District u3a welcomed six new trustees to its committee of nine in August. 

I feel very reassured that the Third Age Trust training team is approachable and eager to assist us with our trustee training needs. It’s difficult enough taking on the role as a new committee member but navigating ourselves through these changing times is easier knowing help is just a click away." 

- Sue, Buxton & District u3a member.

Read full stories on Sources.

Social Media News

12 Days of u3a 

Over the festive period, we're planning content on our social media platforms celebrating the positives of this difficult year and looking forward.

Follow us on our social media by clicking the buttons below.

#u3aphotoart update

If you were intrigued by the #u3aphotoart story we shared in our newsletter last month, one of the members has now created videos of all the photos shared on the hashtag. The videos can be watched here: #u3aphotoart Part 1 #u3aphotoart Part 2 

Jim Palmer, one of the instigators of the hashtag on the u3a Keeping In Touch Facebook group, says, 'These videos are a collaboration by nine members from different u3as up and down the country intended to showcase our work and encourage others to have a go.'
Chris of Pershore & District u3a has been making these wooden Christmas Decorations which he submitted into Made it Make it

News from Recruitment Project

u3a Pathfinders Blazing a Trail

There are 63 Pathfinder u3as who have joined the initial phase of the national recruitment campaign. Paul Martinez, Chair of the Recruitment Project, says "We are sharing a host of new ideas and experiences.

This varies from the
u3a who recruited committee members through a video to the u3a reaching its offline members through a ‘chatline’. We hope to complete the Pathfinder phase by the end of April 2021."

The Pathfinders are piloting the use of a u3a Recruitment Toolkit which should be available soon.


This month on Sources, we have stories of Walking Rugby, a Kenilworth u3a member's journey to learning Italian and more.

International News

As part of the International Committee's regular contributions to Sources, this month, read an article about the digital Advent calendar created by the Danube Network.
Do you have a story about your u3a learning experience that you would like to share? We would love to hear it - get in touch.

Shared Learning Project News

Join 'Our 1901 Postal Pensioners' Project

Under the guidance of researchers from King’s College London, u3a members in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are tracking down the life histories of pensioners who retired from the Post Office in 1901.
To help with this, we’re currently scouting for u3a family history enthusiasts who would be willing to help out with short Zoom sessions giving tips and advice for our researchers.

We’re particularly interested in hearing from those with experience researching  hospital records, school records, parish registers or postal directories. If you want to get involved, please email

High Street Project

The High Street Project saw u3a members across the movement surveying their high streets. The Steering group has now processed over 20,000 lines of survey data and are assembling them for initial analysis.
The final report will be published to coincide with our 40th anniversary in 2022. You will be able to read more about the project findings and proposals in the February issue of Third Age Matters.
Your Stories

 "In Islington, using Zoom and other electronic communications, over half of our 80+ groups have been active throughout the period and when we have been able to meet up, the majority have been.

For example, during the recent lockdown, the coordinators of our table tennis group organised for pairs of us to play outdoors in various local parks. When we were able to have limited face-to-face meetings, we did it in a hybrid way so some members could join via Zoom.

These and similar examples counter the stereotypes of older people and may help us attract those who have recently ceased to work full time to join."

- Anne, Islington u3a

Subject Advice News

New Classic Pop and Rock Music Subject Adviser

Lichfield u3a member Martin Hellawell has recently become the subject adviser for Classic Rock and Pop Music.
Martin's own taste includes Pop, Rock and its variations, Motown, Soul, Reggae, New Romantics, Disco, Electronic.

Martin says, 'I think I can help in providing you with advice on setting up and maintaining a vibrant Classic Rock and Pop group. In the COVID-19 environment in which we live, I can perhaps help you out with technical advice which will enable you to run a group outside of holding face to face meetings."

You can contact Martin on his subject page.

New Subject Adviser for Canasta and Bolivia

Margaret Thompson is the new Subject Advisor for Canasta and Bolivia.

Margaret joined u3a in 2009 and started a Canasta group in 2013 with 30 members playing weekly until lockdown. 

Margaret says, 'The reason I have included Bolivia is that some of my group after reading the rules which come in the special 2 card pack of Canasta, asked if they could try Samba and then Bolivia. Now most of the group play Bolivia as it is a much more challenging game!'
Her canasta group has been playing online on an iPad through lockdown and Is happy to give details for anyone who wants to try it.

See all subject adviser updates on our Subject Advice page.
Tribute to 'Perfect Gentleman' Arthur Maltby

Arthur Maltby, Subject Advisor for Memory Maintenance, had an enduring love of learning and staying active.  

A member and former chair of various u3as in the Deeside and the Wirral Network, Arthur became a Trust Volunteer for many years, presenting at the National Conference.  

His background was as an indexer and in 2017 he brought this skill to the u3a, researching and producing the first list of unusual u3a interest groups – the index of the rare.

Those who knew Arthur describe him as the perfect gentleman with an amazing outlook in spite of a serious health condition.

Arthur made a lasting impression on the u3a movement and will be greatly missed.

u3a Science Network

The Science Network organising team have decided to hold three short virtual meetings in 2021 on Tuesday 20 April, Wednesday 11 August and Thursday 14 October.

Register your interest.
Your Stories 

"The Romsey District Wine Group will be having a Zoom blind wine tasting, which will involve being given three descriptions for each of the six wines and after tasting deciding which description best describes the wine they have just tasted."

- Derek Morley, Wine Group Coordinator at Romsey u3a

u3a Day

Our long-awaited u3a Day 2021 will take place on Wednesday 2 June.

Whether online or face to face it will be an opportunity to showcase our amazing stories and experiences. 

Getting Ready for u3a Day: Online Tutorial

This session, which is available on three different dates, is to assist with planning for u3a day.

The tutorial will be taking place on
25 January 14-15.30, 28 January 10.30-12 or Tuesday 2 March 14.00-15.30

Please book your place on our online tutorials page

Community Connections

u3a Contributes to Loneliness Enquiry

u3a contributed to the All Party Parliamentary (APPG) on Loneliness Enquiry. The APPG, chaired by Neil O'Brien MP, and supported by the British Red Cross and Co-op, launched the enquiry earlier this year.

RNIB Stamp Appeal

Don't throw away the stamps from the cards and parcels you receive this Christmas.  RNIB, the sight loss charity can turn them into funds to help support blind and partially sighted people across the UK. 
Find out more about Stamp Appeal and the work RNIB have been doing to support blind and partially sighted people on the RNIB website.

Christmas/Together Launch

/Together, a coalition of organisations intended to bring people together and bridge divides, is asking people to reach out this Christmas.  Find out more about the campaign on their website.

The Great Winter Get Together

The Jo Cox Foundation has launched their Great Winter Get Together. This Is aimed at building connections and tackling loneliness. 
Each week, the Great Winter Get Together is suggesting a different way that people can connect with each other. Find out more on the Great Winter Get Together website.
We were contacted by an oral historian working on a project about migration from the North of Ireland to Britain. 

He is hoping to interview people who left Northern Ireland from the 1960s onwards, and approached u3a to see if any members would be interested in being involved.

Find out more about the project on their website.  

Celebrations and Thank Yous

Thank You

Once again, we've received many thank yous from u3a members across the movement.
Chester u3a member Hanna wants to thank Frances Oakley, the convenor of the 'Improvers French' group. Hanna says, ' Frances has kept me included into the group and I am still motivated to keep up with my French while not always able to attend the Zoom session. I am Dutch and learning French in this relaxed environment has been really good for me.'

Roberta says, 'I have to thank Wilmslow u3a to which I belong.  There is a wide variety of interest groups and a committee who keep us informed and active in as many ways as possible.'

Stephen Bush, Chair of Maidstone u3a,  was nominated by Geoff, who says "Stephen has done outstanding work for Maidstone u3a over many years. Not only for his contribution to the group as a whole but also for his enthusiasm in the Special Interest groups of which he is either leader or member. Without Stephen our u3a would be far less active and certainly far less enjoyable."
Your Stories

"Throughout the festive period, I will be running my Outings Group, dividing those who want to come into socially distanced groups. I will be doing two walks on Christmas Day as there has been quite a demand.

1.67m mainly over 65s (including me) will be on their own this Christmas and it can be a difficult time for many."

- Roslyn, Crouch End & District u3a

In Focus

Joe Neilson, Stoke South u3a

My wife joined u3a because she was bored being stuck at home all day. She found out about u3a though a magazine and I joined with her.  

I retired four years ago from an engineering firm but have always been interested in computers about twenty years ago.  I didn't go to university but am self taught - me and my boss wanted to get on the internet in 1999 and I built a computer from scratch.  It turned Into a hobby  - one Christmas I built I8! 
My interest In computers led to me talking to the chair of Stoke one Trent South u3a , with a view to starting a computer group, which I did. I quite enjoyed it – that was going up until the beginning of March before the pandemic happened.

At one point, I had about a dozen people in the group. People would come with computer problems but it was also problems with iPads and phones.  In the end we changed it to call it an IT group. Helping people with whatever they were having problems with.

Five years ago people started to go more on to laptops – I used to do quite a bit with repairing/upgrading them. All the components are not that easy. I used to buy laptops and repair them.

Being a member of u3a has given me so much confidence. I get satisfaction from helping people, people were obviously thankful and I found that rewarding. People regarded my opinion and needed my help. I can't wait until we can get back to some face-to-face meetings again.
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