Photo shared on u3a Keeping In Touch group by Blackwater u3a member John Guiver 


Dear <<First Name>>,

Many many u3as are open and providing great programmes to members. I recognise however that it is not easy for all u3as to do this. We are currently working really hard with Trustees, volunteers and u3as to ensure that every u3a member can take part in u3a activity if they want to do so.

We would like to hear from any u3a who is closed and has members that want to engage in winter activity so that we can link you to programmes across the movement.
I would also ask that if your u3a is not open currently that you send any members you do know details of the newsletter so that they can sign up to receive it if they wish to do so.

We will be offering support to any u3a which is are currently closed. We will also continue to share the really great ideas that u3as are using for their members to enjoy u3a life in these winter Covid times.

I was sent three songs written and arranged by a u3a recently that will be going out on u3a radio, we would love to hear more about the creative musical work of u3as.

We need to stand together during these next few months and find ways to keep everyone connected. I know being the u3a movement that we can do it.

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

u3a Day 
Become a u3a social media volunteer
u3a News
Your Stories

"I can honestly say that my involvement in u3a has contributed greatly to my getting through this pandemic.

The Keeping in Touch Facebook has been unifying as has the Central Belt (Scotland) u3a Network so I am very optimistic. I feel that we are now pulling together both locally and nationally.

We have had several completely new members join in the last 6 months. Although Zoom is by no means ideal it has certainly proved invaluable and many have commented that they have 'met' new people via the breakout rooms.

Because of the hard work to keep it all going, we are pulling together and will emerge stronger as a result."

- Marbe, East Renfrewshire u3a

News from the Trust

Help us reach 30,000

Thank you for reading the national newsletter. We love reading all your positive and constructive feedback each month. 

This is our 40th edition!!!  

We have a really engaged and large newsletter community which currently has 29,629 people signed up to receive it.  Can you help us reach 30,000 subscribers?

There's a serious point too.  The newsletter has been an important way for us to all stay connected over this time.

If you have friends and colleagues who may not know about the newsletter or even u3a but would enjoy being part of our newsletter community please encourage them to sign up and try it.

As you know - signing up is easy.  You can sign up via our website.

Download your Bitesize Newsletter

Download and share our Bitesize Newsletter with members who may not have seen the newsletter - it'll give them a great idea of what it is all about.  And also share with your friends and colleagues who are not online.  Especially during this time, it will help to keep us connected with each other.

Bitesize Newsletter

u3a Day

Our First u3a Day - Wednesday 2 June 2021

Whether you decide to plan for a physical event or keep it virtual, we hope that our first u3a Day will showcase the social and learning opportunities on offer.

Coordinating u3a Day, Sue Stokes, Barnsley u3a said, "We have so much more to offer than in 2020. We have new skills, new groups, new ways of communicating and engaging with members and, in many cases, proven strategies for recruiting new members."

Check out the u3a Day page on the national website.

Share your ideas and get inspired with our u3a Day Facebook group.
Photos shared by Nina Hicks on u3a Keeping In Touch group.

Social Media News 

Join our u3a Facebook Groups 

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with u3a members across the movement, supporting each other and sharing ideas.

u3a Keeping In Touch - a Facebook group for the movement to connect with each other through photos, pictures and stories.

u3a Day - a place to share ideas on how you are planning to promote your u3a and share the messages of the u3a movement for our upcoming u3a Day.

u3a In My Own Write - our latest Facebook group is an adaptation from the u3a Facebook page we ran for several years. This group is a place for u3a writers to share their work and discuss writing.
Become a Social Media Volunteer

Are you a social media whiz? Would you be interested in helping us run and moderate our u3a social media groups? Get in touch by emailing


Your Ideas to Keep Learning

As lockdown continues we are still looking at new ways to continue learning.

Zoom has now become an old friend to many of us and as this time period continues we would be interested to hear how your group is adapting.

Do you have new ways of doing things and connecting with your group?
Have you started an online activity that could inspire other u3as?

Please send your ideas on ways to keep learning to Janine Aldridge, Learning Officer so that we can share with others across the movement. 


u3a Eye

u3a members have still been sending incredible photos in to our u3a Eye challenge. Have a look at the gallery now and get submitting.

Above photo: Liz Whittaker of Caterham District u3a for 'A Photo Says A 1,000 Words'

Battle of Britain

u3a members have been sharing their experiences and stories of living in the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. Read them on our learning pages and submit your own. 

u3a Radio Episode 4 Out Now

The latest episode of u3a radio is out on our YouTube channel now. Interviews include a Barnet u3a member who featured in Britain's Got Talent, two members who created a course on how to retire with attitude, and a chef from Vegetarian for Life who has been doing virtual cookery demonstrations to u3a members.

If you have a story you'd like to share with the u3a radio team, get in touch.
Your Stories

"We are only a very small u3a and have been running for just 2 years but since last August we have managed to get many of our interest groups running through Zoom. These are proving to grow in popularity.  We have found the key to keeping people's enthusiasm is to keep in regular contact with them.  Thank goodness for digital media."

- Angela, Duns and District u3a


Don't Miss our Event on Van Gogh

Thursday 28 January, 11am-12.30

In this event with the National Gallery, we will be joined by Bernadette Murphy. She will discuss Van Gogh's life in Arles, where he lived between 1888 and 1889, and her ground-breaking research into what happened on the night that Van Gogh cut off his ear. 

Image: Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888. Credit: The National Gallery

The British Army in Germany since 1945 with the National Army Museum

Thursday 11 February 10.30am- 11.30

Join historian and curator Dr Peter Johnston as he discusses the changing relationship between Britain and Germany and charts the gradual transition from foe to friend.

These and more can be found on our online events page.

We continue to update these regularly and have something for all tastes. These are in high demand so do keep checking and looking at the page as more are going up all the time.
Gresham College have asked us to publicise their event on Vaccination.  In the event on 10 February, Chris Whitty, Gresham Professor of Physic, will consider several aspects of the science and public debate about vaccines.

Chris Whitty is also Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, the UK Government's Chief Medical Adviser, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care and head of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Find out more about the event and book your spot on the
Gresham College website.  

Subject Advice Events


Wednesday 3 February, 10am-11

Whether you are a grand master or a mere pawn in the world of Chess, David Castle, u3a subject advisor for Chess, is calling all enthusiasts to join a Zoom discussion.
This is a chance to connect with a network of u3a players and discuss new opportunities. Check it out and book your place at this session on Encouraging Chess in u3a.


Courses for Beginners, Improvers and Intermediates starts Thursday 4 February

Jack Rouse, Bridge Subject Advisor, has courses running for all experience levels. He is also hosting weekly tournaments on BBO (Bridge Base Online.) Find out more information by visiting Jack's Subject Advisor Page.
All subject advisor updates can be found on the subject advice page.
Carolyn Sea, an Australian u3a member, shared this photo on the u3a Facebook group.
Your Stories

"Over the months of Covid Lockdown, our Committee, and in particular our Chair, Venie Martin, have continued to support the membership with unfailing commitment. Over a number of activities and using the Zoom platform, they have kept us in high spirits and assured of company and friendship at a time when we are prevented from meeting up face to face. 

This includes twice-weekly online Bridge tournaments, monthly reading groups, poetry groups and current affairs groups, all requiring significant planning and preparation. Those less familiar with new computer programmes have even be coached to enable them to participate.

It is a credit to the u3a organisation and could be described as inspiring and outstanding community service during these difficult times. "

- Ann, Causeway u3a. See more thank yous at the bottom of the newsletter.

News from the Board

Ian McCannah, Chair of the Third Age Trust 

"The COVID -19 vaccine roll out is great news and u3a Committees will now be turning their attention to the return of face-to-face meetings as soon as guidelines permit.

In parallel with this local activity, the new year sees several unique initiatives aimed at raising the external profile of the movement. The High Street Project is well underway with over 500 members researching the changing face of their local high streets. The results of this research will be of particular interest to the local and national media given the impact of the pandemic on our shopping centres.

In a different national vein, the Trust is in discussions with the Slow Ways Project about how a u3a walking group can contribute to mapping footpaths in their vicinity. For more details of this unique initiative go to or contact

After postponement last year, there will definitely be a national u3a Day on June 2. Whether virtually or physically, u3a committees will be able to access funding and a variety of ideas on how to promote the value of u3a membership at a local level.

It is hoped that all these events will contribute to celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2022 when, hopefully, COVID-19 is a matter of historical record.

All the best,


u3a News

Exmouth u3a Astronomy Group

Exmouth u3a have set up an experimental interest group, 'Astronomy for Beginners.'
As it takes place via a webpage with new resources and topics to look into each week, there is no upper limit on numbers. Members who want to be more directly involved can also sign up to a weekly email with extra information, and join a online Zoom discussion.

Read the full story on Sources.

Heswall u3a use Twitch for ukelele

Heswall u3a's ukelele group have been playing together each week thorugh the video streaming platform Twitch.
Group convenor Dave says, 'Ever since the first Lock down we have been busy creating an online community so as to continue playing, stretching ourselves and meeting up each week.'

Read full story on Sources.

Prudhoe & District u3a Photography Competition

Prudhoe & District u3a held a photography competition, open to all members. The entries were judged by u3a members with photography experience.

The photos had to have been taken since 1 April 2020 and taken either in members' own homes and gardens or in Tynedale.

The winning entries were announced at their virtual Christmas Party on 8 December and the winners received certificates.

Photos: Alan Hart, Twisted Time by Mary Hartley
'Working by Candlelight, Sit in, Guildford School of Art, 1968' by John Walmsley, freelance photographer and Guildford u3a member. Read more in the case study at the bottom of the newsletter.


Merchandise coming this year to the Brand Centre

A new year means new products are coming to the u3a brand centre. This year you will have the chance to buy our first branded merchandise.

From next month onwards you will start to see merchandise start appearing on the centre. It is still in development but our magazine Third Age Matters will officially launch the range in April – in time for u3a Day on June 2.  

You can see it all happen at If you are not an official user – all you need to do is self-register and you will have access to the merchandise when it is available.
Your Stories

" As a former Wenglish speaker I would have loved to get together with other learners of Welsh but they’re a bit thin on the ground in deepest Surrey.

At a Focus Group on the Online Learning Hub I mentioned this in passing and a lovely lady from South Manchester said her 'Getting by in Welsh' Group was now meeting on Zoom. I joined the group and have been rapidly improving my hitherto totally lapsed Welsh skills once a month.

   We are currently sharing as many of our groups as possible with other u3as and benefitting, in turn, from being allowed to share the resources of other u3as. We, and others, hope to extend these activities further in the future. This crisis has been, and continues to be, truly awful but there are things we can learn from it that could make us a stronger, more inclusive and caring organisation in the years to come.'

- Cher, Horley u3a

Third Age Matters

In this issue of Third Age Matters, out 15 February

In the February edition of Third Age Matters, iconic designer Zandra Rhodes chats openly and warmly to u3a fashionistas; read about the u3a member who wants help to build a full-size steam engine; find out how you can become an ambassador for Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity; win two nights dinner, bed and breakfast in a country hotel; and the prog rockers of the u3a unite, sharing memories of their favourite bands!

Volunteer News

VolFest gets the New Year off to a good start

Over 230 Trust volunteers took part in a week-long festival of events providing training, workshops and opportunities to network.  This was the first of its kind and successfully delivered a new style of learning and training to different groups within the Movement.  

We aim to run another festival for u3a groups supporting the movement in the near future so watch out for information on this.

See the full story on Sources.
Feedback from participants:-  

“11/10 for all your preparation and organisation. Can't wait for Volfest #2”

“It was great to feel part of the wider u3a movement and I certainly learnt a lot” 

“I will share my enthusiasm and outcomes at our next network meeting”

u3a in the media 

A letter from Wendy about her experience with Doncaster u3a was published in the Letters section of the Guardian

u3a was mentioned on BBC Radio 4 on 19 December in which a Burton u3a member spoke about his cycling group

Cockermouth u3a featured in the Times and Star

Ilkley u3a featured in the Ilkley Gazette and on Ilkley chat.

PR Advisors

To help raise our profile we are recruiting PR Advisers across the regions.

This is a role you can shape and develop locally working with the u3as in your area, the other PR Advisors across the country and your Regional Trustee.

If you would like to find out more about the role, please get in touch with Margaret Fiddes 
Your Stories

“Despite Covid-19 restrictions our Literature group has continued to meet every Wednesday morning on Zoom.  One member leads the group on a chosen book that most of us have read. We discuss various aspects of the work and content, with discussions becoming more lively as members have gained confidence in using this Internet facility.

 Books have varied from the mostly humorous Antoine Laurain’s The President’s Hat to extracts from the Iliad (in translation) following our study of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls. In our last session we were greatly privileged to hear some lines of the Iliad read to us in Ancient Greek by the husband of one of our members.”

- June and Nuala, Belfast u3a


On Sources this month, we have u3a news and an update from the International Committee about their Pen Friend scheme with u3a members in France.

Do you have a story you'd like to share on Sources? Get in touch with us.
The u3a Research Committee were contacted by a PHD student at Leeds University whose research investigates the barriers to colonoscopy screening uptake for bowel cancer, following a positive/abnormal home stool test. She is recruiting participants to interview (either via telephone or video call) and looking for people in England who are 60 years and over who have completed a home screening test and their result has been positive/abnormal. It doesn't matter if they then went on to have further tests or declined. To be involved, contact Liz Travis.
The project has Leeds University ethics approval and has been approved by the u3a Research committee.
A clip from a video shot by Mari Ward of Causeway u3a 

Celebrations and Thank Yous

Thank You

John and Hilary from Cramlington u3a would like to thank group leader Marie Dooley. They said, 'Marie's enthusiasm has been the driving force behind our Local History and Art Appreciation groups. Marie hosts monthly 'social-zooms' as well enabling us group members to stay connected and helping with our lockdown blues.'

Two members of Hillingdon u3a wrote in to thank Adele Franklin, who since the beginning of lockdown has set up a Facebook group and sent daily emails, both of which are filled with updates and interesting information.

Sue Vigar said, ' She was posting every day and it was a lifesaver for me as I live on my own. For those of us that joined the Facebook group she encouraged us to take photos and post them and also set us tasks to do as well.  All in all, great fun, so much so that sometimes I didn’t get my housework done!!  The Facebook group has grown and even now Adele still posts three times a week with lots of different ideas.  I can only imagine how much time this takes her.'

Is there someone at your u3a that you think deserves recognition? Get in touch with us.

In Focus

John Walmsley, Guildford u3a

I've been a freelance documentary photographer since leaving Art School in 1968.  I will be giving a Zoom talk about my work to the Royal Photographic Society which is free and open to all, not just to members of the RPS. Details can be found on the RPS website.

My work has been published in 1,000+ books worldwide (I'm the author or joint-author of 15 of them).  It’s also held in several Collections including National Portrait Gallery, the V&A Museum of Childhood and the Tate Britain Library.
I’m a member of Guildford u3a, in the 'art for all' group.  Although I've been involved in the visual world all my life, I have huge gaps in what I’ve done and know. This u3a group covers the areas I know absolutely nothing about.  I've learnt that I really don’t like opera!!  A lot of members know all this stuff - for instance, we covered Emma by Jane Austen and many had read it before many times -I hadn’t.  I was diagnosed with a form of dyslexia last year – reading and processing is slow but I get there in the end.

I have always loved photographing the everyday, ordinary stuff that I’m interested in.  My advice is to go for the feeling and forget about the f-stops and apertures.  If it feels right, it doesn’t much matter what f-stop or aperture was used.  Show your photos to artists and listen to what they say. 

Photo: Vanessa Redgrave & Tariq Ali lead anti-Vietman War demo in 1968, photo taken by John Walmsley. No sharing, photo copyright is limited.

See more of John's work on his website.
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