Committee Chatter

June 2018 Newsletter – Member’s Questionnaire

We were very pleased to receive the responses to the questionnaire. Many thanks to the folk who took the time and trouble to fill it in. This was a forum for you to have your say. We were delighted with the many very positive comments and we were praised for good communication, welcoming atmosphere, excellent outings and speakers and the variety of groups.

We asked what we could do better and we will (or already have) respond to the following

Plastic cups – already addressed

Problem hearing in parts of the church balcony. It would be better if members who are hard of hearing sat down stairs in the reserved seats at the front.

Crowded open meetings and hard to get a drink. We have moved the refreshments into other rooms to try to make it easier and safer.

Encourage more ethnic minorities to join U3A. We will look at this issue when we formulate our Equality/Diversity policy later in the year. This policy would include reaching out to people from all walks of life.

Identify more venues. Chris Chater our group co-ordinator has a list of possible venues in Beeston and the surrounding area.

Continue to promote 2nd, 3rd, 4th groups etc. This is happening.

Explain locations of meetings for people who aren’t from Beeston. We will look at this and see if we can put something on the website.

There were some good suggestions for new groups. Several of the suggestions already exist e.g. Rummikub and Bird watching. Members can find all existing groups listed on the website and in the newsletter. We will be working through the suggested list and we will hold meetings to assess the interest and to find folk who may be interested to helping to organise the groups.

We were delighted that several members said they may consider joining the committee in the future. This is particularly important because several long-standing committee members, including the Chair, will leave this time next year.

There seemed to be a considerable interest in the possibility of a Study day with some very good suggestions for a suitable topic. Hopefully the day will take place in Autumn 2018 or Spring 2019.

We asked how members would feel if they were given the option to pay the annual subscription by PayPal. Opinion was divided but this is likely to go ahead for those who wish to pay that way.

May 2018

June 2018 Newsletter  Beeston U3A Chair’s Annual Report May 2018

Beeston U3A continues to thrive and membership is now more than 800. Our numbers are rising each month and we are delighted that our popularity continues to grow as we cater for people in the locality with a wide range of needs and interests. We average between 12 and 20 new members at each monthly meeting and we are now considerably larger than other local U3As. Members sometimes ask us if we are getting too big but we are lucky that currently we can accommodate everyone who wants to come to the open meetings and as long as we continue to extend our range/number of interest groups we can continue to expand. Our increasing membership creates a lot of work for Margot Gale, our very efficient membership secretary, particularly at renewal time. We have adopted the U3A electronic Beacon System which allows us to record members details and extract useful information and we look forward to providing the opportunity for paying the annual subscription on line for those who wish to do it this way. We are delighted that many group leaders are also finding it a very useful tool. There is a possibility that a Wollaton U3A will be established in the next year or so and if this happens we look forward to working with them. Our rise in membership and careful management by Malcolm Brookbanks and Jo Muxlow our treasurers has led to surplus funds and this has meant that we have been able to reduce our subscription for 2018/9 to £12.

As a committee we have continued to work from our development plan A major area, as last year, has been to continue to make our U3A vibrant and appealing to all members. Included in this area has been the constant need for more interest groups. Chris Chater, our group co-ordinator, has continued to work hard establishing new groups. We now have over 70 interest groups with additional ones in the pipeline. Very popular ones are expanding to third and fourth groups which hopefully will avoid the frustration new members feel when they join and are told that groups they would like to try are full. In the last few months a few of our long-standing group leaders have decided to stand down and we would like to thank them most sincerely for all their hard work and enthusiasm. I would like to particularly mention Jane Smith, Graham and Sue Lodge and Helen Stewart and Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock who have run their groups right from the beginning of Beeston U3A. We are grateful to members who have taken over the organisation so that these groups have continued. Again, we have moved to teams leading groups rather than all the responsibility resting on one or two people

Anne Pinnock, who will join the committee as a co-opted member after this meeting, will work alongside Chris Chater for the coming year.
New groups established this year include
• Recorders
• 2nd Medium walks
• 3rd Wine Tasting
• 4th Table Tennis
• Astronomy
• Whist
• Jazz Appreciation
• Practical Art
• Understanding the landscape
• Architecture
• Learning to program
• Strollers

In the recent questionnaire members have given us some good ideas for possible new groups. These include
Ecology/biodiversity, Walking football or netball, Learning to sew, History of Aviation, Music and movement and Snooker.
Our excellent group leaders have ensured that their groups have continued to be lively and interesting. These folk, as I’ve said many times, are the backbone of Beeston U3A and the committee can’t thank them enough. Art Gallery Visit members have had many visits, organised by Barbara Johnson and Nadya Lancaster, which include the Djanogly Gallery, Newark Town Hall, New Walk Gallery Leicester, Nottingham Contemporary, Collection Gallery Lincoln and the Harley Gallery.

Some members of the Wine Appreciation Groups joined members of the Nottingham Wine Group again and visited Verona and Venice last June and a similar visit is taking place for the third time this year. The theatre group continues to be extremely popular and Eve Gurd works very hard organising tickets for productions in local theatres.

The Garden visit group led by Sandy Banks have enjoyed many days out and these have included visits to the RHS Chatsworth show, Nottingham Park Garden Trail, Cossall open gardens, they have also visited Cambridge Botanical Gardens, Bridgend, the Hidden gardens of Easton Lodge, Beth Chatto Garden, Lode Mill, Marks Hall, Anglesey Abbey, Sandringham show and Little Morton Hall/Biddulph Grange.

Several groups have made requests for financial support to buy equipment/ subscriptions etc. We welcome these requests and the committee is keen to support them whenever possible. Examples over the past year of requests that have been granted, include a new laptop, a CD player, speakers, wine glasses, card tables and yoga blocks.

In March, we planned to hold our annual Group Fair when we would have the opportunity to showcase our U3A and give groups the opportunity to recruit new members. After comments made by group leaders last year we had arranged to hold the event in a new venue i.e. the Pearson Centre. This would have given us much more space and allowed all groups to have tables in the same room. There was also a stage for performances and then it all went wrong when heavy snow fell, and we had to cancel! The event will now take place at the Pearson Centre in October and we’ll have a break next year.

During the year, we have also held a range of evening social events and these have included another Fine Wine Tasting led by Piers Krause, a Murder Mystery evening, a Ceilidh, and a Quiz. Many thanks to Janis Patterson for her hard work. We celebrated Christmas with seasonal refreshments and entertainment by the Ukulele, Singing for fun, Let’s right Shakespeare and the Play reading groups. We were also entertained by a Barbershop quartet called Central Locking. The winner of the short story competition was also announced. Congratulations went to all the folk who had entered and the winner Sue Daly a cluster member from Long Eaton was presented with a £25 book token. The competition is taking place again this year.

We are always keen to hear the views of members and we have recently sent out a questionnaire seeking members views. As a committee we are extremely grateful to the members who took the time and trouble to fill it in and return it. Your comments will inform our updated development plan and a summary of the responses appears later in this newsletter. We always try to listen to members suggestions/concerns and act upon them when we can. An example of this is our move away from plastic cups. We now ask members to bring their own. The annual group leaders meeting was another opportunity for members to make suggestions for improvements. We have also moved the refreshments to other rooms to try to make it a little calmer.

Lucy Beardsley continues to organise an excellent range of speakers and she and Breda Cooper have also arranged some outstanding visits over the past year. These have included two visits to the Charles Hanson Auction House to see the filming of Bargain Hunt, a trip to Lichfield and overnight visits to the Thursford Spectacular and Blenheim Palace.

Another area for development has been to forge links with local colleges/ universities. Despite starting very well and being very successful our links with Central College have ceased. This is disappointing, but the college didn’t seem to have the necessary resources to continue. However, during the year we have developed our working relationship with Nottingham Trent University and have been engaged with a retail research group in their Business School about grocery shopping and older consumers. In May and June, we circulated an anonymous online questionnaire to members and there were over 170 respondents who provided invaluable research data about their grocery shopping habits. Steve Austin then participated in their Academic Conference in July where he presented the results of the survey. A group of 18 members then volunteered to take part in more detailed focus groups held at the University in November. This provided the NTU research team with over three hours of transcripts which they are currently analysing with the objective of publishing an academic journal article later this year, and so hopefully increase major retailers’ awareness of the needs of the older shopper.

We also strive to keep up to date with local and national U3A initiatives and then, where appropriate, feed back to you the members. Margot Gale, our Vice Chair and Membership Secretary and I attend the Nottinghamshire Network meetings and disseminate any relevant information and several committee members have been to local workshops. I have recently trained to be a volunteer to help with setting up new U3As locally. We were well represented at the National Conference at Nottingham University and I summarised the main findings in the newsletter. Any member can apply to the committee for sponsorship to attend the conference which includes the AGM. As well as excellent speakers, there is the opportunity to attend workshops and exchange ideas with members of other U3As. It will be held at Nottingham again at the end of August. We also feel it’s important to co-operate with the other U3As in our local cluster i.e. Long Eaton, Ilkeston, and Stapleford. I meet with the Chairs of these U3As every six months, so we can exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Only this week Malcolm, Margot, and I attended a national U3A workshop in Birmingham where the topics discussed were Data Protection, Equality, Safe Guarding and Insurance. As I’m sure you are aware new data protection regulations known as GDSR come into force at the end of this month. We have set up a subcommittee to tackle any changes that we need to make and we will ensure that we keep you informed and we’ll shortly be holding a group leaders meeting to ensure they are fully conversant with the implications and what they need to do. We will be formulating policies for Data Protection and Privacy so that you know how any information we have about members is protected.

I am aware that I say frequently that U3A is for the members by the members and one of our aims is to involve more people in the numerous tasks necessary in running a successful U3A. Whenever possible members are expected to give as well as take. We are not here to provide a service but to help each other and be prepared to play our part! It can be very frustrating and a bit soul destroying when help is needed in a group and no-one is prepared to give it. Last year we appealed for some help for Janis who organises the social events but not a single person came forward and offered their services which was disappointing. However, we do have non-committee members who help enormously. We couldn’t manage without our meeters and greeters, the refreshment team and those who sign members in, but more are always needed. Other helpful people are Mike Allery who does numerous IT tasks with such willingness, Mike Johnson who takes our photographs and Eve Gurd who helps to set up the room for open meetings and looks after the signs we have on the tables. If you feel you could give a little help in any way, please please let us know.

There will be some committee changes next year so we hope some members will consider playing their part in that way. My heart was gladdened a few months ago when Kathy Shipway said ‘I am very happy to join the committee. I feel I take a lot from U3A, but I don’t give a lot back, so I will do my bit on the committee’

We like to make all our volunteers feel valued and to let them know that we don’t take them for granted. To show our appreciation we held our annual thank you Christmas coffee morning at the White Lion and a thank you lunch and meeting for our group leaders.

Communication is an area that many members have praised in the questionnaire. Celia Billau our communications officer works tirelessly to send out information to you. Please can you ensure that you tell us when your details change. Celia has now taken over the newsletter from Marie Potts and the excellent quality has been maintained. She also produces a very useful interim bulletin and manages our Facebook page.

I would like to take the opportunity at this point to thank Marie for everything she has done for Beeston U3A over the last seven years. She really has been instrumental in our success and we are really going to miss her input at committee meetings. We wish her well and are really pleased that we will still see her around as she will continue to be a member. I’ve already got her lined up to be a regular meeter and greeter.

The coming year will hopefully see us continue to build on our success. Developments, some of which are similar to last year, are
1. To further develop the use of the Beacon system particularly looking at the opportunity for members to pay on line. We have already established a subcommittee to look at this.
2. To continue to extend the range of interest groups and to revamp the pack for new group leaders.
3. To hold a study day for members ..subject to be decided
4. To ensure we implement the necessary data protection changes including formulating a data protection policy and a privacy policy.
5. To hold a meeting for group leaders so that they understand the data protection issues.
6. To devise a policy for safe guarding and equality.
7. To feedback to members on the results of the questionnaire and implement any changes arising from comments/suggestions made.
8. To prepare for succession planning in readiness for any committee changes in a year’s time.
9. To look for ways to encourage more members to take an active role within our U3A.
10. To continue to plan for the challenges brought by the ever-increasing membership.

I’d like to finish by thanking you all most sincerely for continuing to be part of Beeston U3A and hopefully we look forward to another successful and exciting year together.

Sue Blackley

March  2018 Newsletter – A Message from the Chair, Sue Blackley.

We had a very successful group leader meeting at the end of last month. It was vey well attended and I would like to thank all those folk who gave up their time and came along and supported the event. We have had some very positive feedback and following a presentation at the meeting we are delighted that so many group leaders are showing an interest in using the electronic national Beacon System to manage the membership of their groups. Celia Billau, our communications officer, is holding a help desk at our open meetings to aid anyone with queries/difficulties. We are very proud of our group leaders who work so hard to sustain the interest in their groups.

As I announced at the last open meeting we will shortly be sending out a questionnaire to all members. Your opinion is very important to us and we would like to know what you think our U3A does well and anything you think we might improve upon. It’s important to remember that as a committee we are just a group of volunteers trying our best to please almost 800 members with diverse interests and opinions. We hope you will spare a few minutes to fill it in so that your ideas can feed into our development plan for the next year. We are always striving to improve as we want Beeston U3A to be one of the best!

I am pleased to announce that Kathy Shipway is being co-opted on to the committee from March. Initially she won’t have a specific role but will assist other members as she gets used to the way we work and the responsibilities of a trustee.

Many thanks to Janis Patterson for organising such a successful Barn Dance. We now look forward to a Quiz Night on April 20th.

Sue Blackley

December  2017 Newsletter – A Message from the Chair, Sue Blackley.

I would like to begin by thanking Marie Potts for the tremendous newsletters she has produced over the last six years or so. Thanks to Marie’s dedication and attention to detail the quality of our newsletter has been admired by you the members and many other U3As. We are very pleased that Marie will stay on the committee until May.

This brings me on to the next point which is planning for the future. Succession planning is a standard, but very important, item on our committee meeting agenda. However, we can’t develop a succession plan if we don’t have any volunteers. Many of our committee have already served for several years and may be considering a break in the not too distant future. When this happens, we will need new people to take their places. If you think you may be interested, you are welcome to attend a committee meeting as an observer and there would also be the opportunity to shadow a current member.

We are a friendly group who share the responsibility of running our U3A but if there is no committee then there would be no U3A!! It is also very healthy for the organisation to have new blood bringing fresh ideas.

Please let a committee member know if you would like to find out more with no obligation!

Off my soap box now and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and the very best for 2018.


June 2017 Newsletter – A Message from the Chair, Sue Blackley.

Dear Members

For the benefit of those members unable to attend the AGM in May, here is my Annual Report.

Following the last AGM in May 2016 the year began with a celebration tea party in June for our 5Th anniversary. This was attended by around 100 members including the former chairs Sue Cotton and Liz Barnes.  Sue Cotton who was the first chair told members how the U3A started in Beeston and she cut the cake. A good time was had by all and I received many emails and letters of thanks saying how much folk had enjoyed it.

Beeston U3A continues to thrive and membership is reaching almost 800. Our numbers are rising each month and we are delighted that our popularity continues to grow as we cater for people in the locality with a wide range of needs and interests.

In order to move our organisation forward we have been working to a development plan compiled by the committee, considering members comments and national and local issues. This plan is regularly reviewed, revised and brought up to date.  A major area for development was to continue to make our U3A vibrant and appealing to all members. Included in this area is the constant need for more interest groups. We are also trying to start some groups that will be particularly, but not exclusively appealing to men.  Chris Chater has worked tirelessly and the past year has been very successful in extending the range of interest groups on offer.  We now have 67 interest groups which is an increase of over 20 since the last AGM with second or third groups being set up for table tennis, Latin, ukulele and wine tasting and we are up to our 5th book group. We are aware that it is very frustrating for new members if they are constantly told that groups are full and consequently we are working hard to set up additional ones where it is apparent there is a need. This also depends of the goodwill of members being willing to take on the tasks involved in running a group. As a committee, we are pleased that there is a definite move towards team leadership so that the load is shared.  We are so grateful for all members who help to run groups. You really are the essence of U3A and without your willingness, hard work and enthusiasm we couldn’t exist.

New groups established this year include Real Ale, Singing for fun German Beginners and Improvers, Greek Ambling ArchitectureLearning to programme, Medieval History, Italian, Searching Antiques, Golf, Needles and Wool.Quiz, Psychology and Sociology.

Several new groups are also in the pipeline and include Beginners Recorder, 5th Book Group, 2nd Medium Walks.Once again, our groups, overall, have been very active and successful and a number have arranged visits to places of interest.  We are particularly grateful to Helen Stewart who continues to run four very popular groups. Recently she also organised a very successful visit to Florence for Art History Group members.  She has also organised a Beeston U3A creative writing competition.  Art Gallery Visit members have had many visits, organised by Barbara Johnson and Nadya Lancaster, which include the Djanogly, Contemporary, Leicester and Harley Galleries.  Some members of the Wine Appreciation Group joined members of the Nottingham Wine Group and visited Verona and Venice last June and a similar visit, organised by Piers Krause, is taking place this year. The theatre group continues to be extremely popular and Eve Gurd works very hard organising tickets for productions in local theatres. The Garden visit group led by Sandy Banks have enjoyed several days out and these have included visits to Castle Howard, Southwell Apple Weekend, Cambridge University Botanical Gardens and three days in Cardiff when the group visited six gardens.

Elizabeth le Marchant Brock certainly deserves a mention here as she is the administrator for four groups as well as running the new member’s coffee morning and being an ultra-efficient minuting secretary.Several groups have made requests for financial support to buy equipment/subscriptions etc. We welcome these requests and the committee is keen to support them whenever possible. Examples over the past year of requests that have been granted, include a library subscription for the play reading group, 4 card tables for the Bridge Group and the cost of setting up a website for the Writing for Pleasure Group.In March, we held our annual group fair enabling group leaders to showcase their groups, recruit new members and gather waiting lists where the groups were already full. A considerable number of visitors attended the event and consequently we gleaned around 30 new members. There was a great buzz around the place and many very positive comments. After the event Group leaders had the opportunity to send comments/suggestions to the committee on possible improvements for next year which we will take on board wherever possible. Much of the preliminary organisation was done by Marie Potts and Celia Billau our new Communications Officer. Consequently, thanks to them, the event ran very smoothly.

During the year, we have also held a range of evening social events and these included Fine Wine Tasting led by Piers Krause, a Quiz and an excellent Burns Supper and Ceilidh organised by Janis Patterson.We celebrated Christmas with seasonal refreshments followed with entertainment by the ukulele and singing for fun groups and an A Cappella male voice choir.We are always keen to hear the views of members and have recently introduced a forum on our website and opened a Facebook page. These are additional mechanisms whereby members can advertise what they do, share their opinions/ideas and help us to strive to provide what members want.The annual group leaders meeting was another opportunity for members to make suggestions for improvements. One thing they shared was that some new members find the hustle and bustle a little overwhelming when they come to their first open meeting and so we are trying to find a quieter and calmer place for coffee which is proving quite a challenge and we still haven’t found an ideal solution.

Lucy Beardsley ensures that we continue to have a wide range of interesting speakers and particularly notable ones in the past twelve months have been Dr John Dornan, John Wilson and Jane Barnes.Lucy, ably assisted by Breda Cooper, has also arranged some outstanding visits to places of interest including Hodsock Priory, Lichfield, The Globe, and Highclere Castle where members stayed overnight.One of our continued development areas is to forge links with local colleges/universities hoping eventually to glean mutual benefits. Despite much effort and willingness this isn’t easy. However, there have been significant links with Central College.  A considerable number of members have attended IT sessions at the College which have been highly successful.  We hope this will continue but is currently being hampered by lack of resources at the college. There may be the opportunity for members to attend some IT sessions within our cluster of U3As. These are organised by Stapleford U3A and take place in Stapleford library. Our links with local universities has been slower but certainly not through lack of effort. We are currently in negotiation with Nottingham Trent University and hope we will be involved in two research projects soon. (more details to follow) We hope this will be the beginning of a successful relationship with NTU with benefits on both sides. Steve Austin has been the main contact here assisted by Richard Eddleston. Thanks to them for their continued efforts.

Following on from our study day on Shared Learning projects last April a small group, led by Gill Morral, was set up looking at the history of the old police station. Unfortunately for various reasons the project hasn’t continued. I do hope there will be opportunity in the future for more shared learning projects to develop. I would also like us to run some study days with guest speakers and workshops so please let us know if there is a subject you would be interested in and we’ll see if we can set something up.

Another priority is to ensure that we stay up to date with local and national U3A initiatives and feed back to you the members. Margot Gale, our Vice Chair and Membership Secretary, attends the Nottinghamshire Network meetings and feeds back information and several committee members have been to local workshops. We were well represented at the National Conference at Nottingham University and Margot and Malcolm gave a very informative presentation about it to members at the October open meeting. Any member can apply to the committee for sponsorship to attend the conference which includes the AGM. As well as excellent speakers, there is the opportunity to attend workshops and exchange ideas with members of other U3As. It will be held at Nottingham again at the end of August. We also feel it’s important to co-operate with the other U3As in our local cluster i.e. Long Eaton, Ilkeston and the latest member Stapleford extending the opportunities that we can provide and learning from and helping each other.

As I say frequently U3A is for the members by the members and one of our aims is to involve more people in the numerous tasks necessary in running a successful U3A. Members are expected to give as well as take. One way we would like members, other than just the committee, to be involved is by establishing working parties and small groups to achieve specific tasks. After attending a workshop at the national conference, we realised that it would be advantageous to many members if we formulated an accessibility policy. Consequently, we set up a working party and were delighted when Anne Pinnock, a non-committee member offered to lead the necessary research. Anne and the other members of the group, in consultation with members and group leaders, have done an excellent job and Anne, who now has an official title of Welfare Officer, will talk to you about the policy at a later meeting and Margot will give you a progress report today.

Another non-committee member Bill Pavlides has also offered to help Chris Chater in her role as group co-ordinator. Now we would like some occasional help for Janis Patterson our event’s organiser.  Other non-committee members who help enormously are Mike Allery who does numerous IT tasks, Mike Johnson who takes our photographs and Eve Gurd who helps to set up the room for open meetings and looks after the signs we have on the tables. If you feel you could give a little help in any way please please let us know. As well as needing more group leaders we also need more ‘Meeters and Greeters’ and more people to help with refreshments.

One of our priorities is to make our volunteers feel valued and to let them know that we don’t take them for granted. To show our appreciation we held a thank you Christmas coffee morning at the White Lion. We wanted to say a thank you to all the Meeters and Greeters, the folk who sign members in each month and take subscriptions and the members who serve the tea and coffee and other very helpful members who have already been mentioned.  A particular thank you here to Elaine Neville who took over the organisation of the refreshments from Sheila Strang.

Our newsletter continues to be of the highest quality thanks to Marie Potts. We are delighted that she has agreed to continue as newsletter editor and to remain on the committee even though she has stepped down as Communications Officer. Please group leaders keep sending Marie reports and  photographs of your activities. We thank Marie for all her efforts to keep members informed on all kinds of U3A matters and we are grateful that she has worked so closely with Celia Billau ensuring a very smooth transition as Celia takes over from her.

Another significant development is our adoption of the U3A National administration management system called Beacon. This system will computerise all aspects of our administration which becomes more onerous as the membership increases. Eventually there should be the opportunity for annual subscriptions to be recorded and paid on line and the system should be useful for group leaders. Margot, Malcolm and Celia are working very hard to become familiar with all aspects of the system as they are gradually implemented.The coming year will hopefully see us move further forward as we continue to strive to provide a vibrant and lively U3A.

Developments already identified are:

1. To further develop the use of the Beacon system.
2. To continue to extend the range of interest groups with a focus on groups which may have male appeal.
3. To encourage members to identify a subject for a study day.
4. To improve all channels of communication as our numbers continue to increase including the use of the Forum, Facebook and a monthly bulletin. We will endeavour to keep you informed about national and local developments and will continue to ask for your opinions/ideas.
5. To prepare for succession planning in readiness for any committee changes in a year’s time.
6. To look for ways to encourage more members to take an active role within our U3A.
7. To consider the challenges brought by the ever-increasing membership.

Sadly, several members have passed away during the past year. We miss them and our thoughts are with their families and friends. The year hasn’t been without its challenges but the strength of the team has helped us through. I’d like to thank you all most sincerely for continuing to be part of Beeston U3A and we look forward to another successful and exciting year.

Sue Blackley

March 2017 Newsletter – A Message from the Chair, Sue Blackley.

Dear Members

As always, many thanks to all the volunteers who keep the wheels turning for Beeston U3A. However, I will reiterate some of my words from the last newsletter. Please remember that U3A is ‘FOR THE MEMBERS BY THE MEMBERS’ so we need you to play your part particularly when we are trying to start new groups.

A U3A does not provide services for its members -members provide them for each other. As our membership continues to increase we need to be starting new groups all the time but we can only do this with your help. Also, long standing group leaders sometimes feel they want a rest or their change in personal circumstances means they can no longer run the group. At this point we need other members of the group to step in and take over so that it doesn’t fold. This happened very successfully with the History group which is now run by a team.

We had a very successful Group Leaders meeting in January. Many thanks to all who attended. We really value your comments and suggestions and we hope you found the event worthwhile.

Please remember to renew your membership as soon as possible. We will be asking group leaders to check membership cards in due course. If there is any aspect of your membership that you are not happy about, please let one of the committee know. Following on from a suggestion at the Group Leaders meeting we now have a forum on the Beeston U3A website where you can ask questions or post comments.

I am delighted that we have recently co-opted Celia Billau onto the committee. Celia is taking over from Marie Potts as Communications Officer so you will soon be receiving emails from her as Marie will continue to produce our fantastic Newsletter and still be so please continue to send your articles to her. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Marie for all the work she has done over the past six years. She has kept everyone informed and played a major part in the success of Beeston U3A. She has done a huge amount of work over and above her specific roles and has been a constant support to all members of the committee.

I’d like to thank Lucy Beardsley as she continues to find an excellent variety of speakers for our monthly open meetings. If you don’t come to our monthly meetings you don’t know what you are missing so, please give it a try….. free tea and coffee too!!

Our Burns Night event was superb. Janis Patterson our Events Organiser produced a delicious four course meal with very little help which was followed by a great ceilidh. An excellent evening enjoyed by all and we are looking forward to next year!

Don’t forget to get your tickets for the Quiz evening which takes place on Friday April 7th at Chilwell Manor Golf Club.

Our next event is the Group Fair on March 2nd where we will showcase our U3A. Please bring along any friends or relations who may be interested. The event is free. Hope to see you there.

Sue Blackley

December 2016 Newsletter – A Message from the Chair, Sue Blackley.

sueDear Members,

This is the first of a regular contribution that I will make to our newsletter.

I would like to start by thanking all the wonderful folk who run our groups and all the great volunteers who provide the refreshments, sign members in, help with the IT and meet and greet. We couldn’t manage without you and you are so instrumental to the success of Beeston U3A. However, considering we have nearly 700 members, this is a relatively small group of people who work incredibly hard to keep the wheels turning. As you will have heard me say many times recently, U3A doesn’t provide a service but it is an organisation for the members by the members and wherever possible all members should be prepared to play their part however small. We also have a very hard working committee but we may need new members in the very near future. If there is no committee there will be no Beeston U3A. Interested members are very welcome to come to a committee meeting as an observer. We are always looking to start new groups and to extend the list of volunteers to do all the other jobs. Do you think you could help occasionally? We are also looking to set up a REALLY USEFUL GROUP (RUGs) who will assist on specific occasions eg at a social event or be part of a working party should the need arise. Please, please let us know if you are prepared to help. The more helpers the less onerous the tasks and the less frequently we will be calling on you. Please email me at or Marie at or sign one of the volunteer lists which will be at the open meetings from December.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We look forward to a successful 2017 as our U3A continues to grow and thrive.

Sue Blackley

December 2015 Newsletter

The Joys of Committee Roles

The months pass quickly as I am sure you are well aware. Christmas is upon us and before we know it, we will arrive at the end of another U3A year. I know I keep banging on about it, but we are all about Volunteers and could not survive without all the people who give up their time in many different roles to make our organisation function.

Each year, we struggle to maintain a full Committee and I thought it would be useful for you to hear from some of the existing committee about what U3A means to them. For myself, being in U3A has changed my life. I have made so many new friends and discovered opportunities to learn new skills. I am even playing Table Tennis and I love it, it is so much fun, and a great way to have a little gentle exercise.

Producing the newsletter was a steep learning curve but I have gained so much pleasure and satisfaction from the learning process and gained a great deal of confidence in my abilities and self confidence in myself. If you have never been involved in a committee before, you may think you can’t now, but believe me, you could. Think about it. It could enrich your life too, as it has mine. It’s not that arduous really. We attend the monthly meeting, and a monthly committee meeting, help out at functions such as quizzes and Ceilidhs and other social events when we can. Some of us have a dedicated function like myself but we also need other committee members to cover a variety of things that crop up occasionally and provide general support.

So do think about it please and if you are interested and want to discuss it further, do get in touch with me or Sue Blackley.

Marie Potts

Chris Chater writes on The Role of a Group Coordinator

The Group Coordinator is an integral member of the U3A team. Briefly the coordinator helps Set up Groups, Support Groups, Support Existing groups and assist the Development of New Groups, and to find a new Group Leader/Coordinator when an existing one wishes to retire.

The Group Coordinator acts as a facilitator, to help the group members to pursue their interests and meet their objectives. The frequency of meetings, venue and objectives of each group should be discussed and agreed by the members of each group. You do not have to be an expert, the role of a Group Coordinator is enjoyable, it can be fun and rewarding, why not come and join the committee.

Margot Gale writes on her experience with U3A

Having retired 3 ½ years ago I was wondering what would fill my newly found leisure time, then I stumbled on Beeston U3A and have never looked back. As I knew Liz Barnes from way back when our children were young I volunteered to help her at the signing in table as I’ve always preferred to have a job to do if I went to a meeting (teachers are always the bossy ones!!!) When Liz then became Chairperson I volunteered to become Membership Secretary and found a role that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

My job is extremely varied, I organise the amazing volunteers who help each month with signing in, registering existing members and welcoming visitors, ably assisted by Elizabeth who looks after the new members table. Following the meeting, I update the membership list and have become very adept at using ExceI spreadsheets and then I contact all new members to invite them to the New Members’ coffee morning where I am in the lucky position of meeting most of our new members. I also pick up any postal membership renewals and send out receipts and membership cards and if there are any queries regarding membership I do my best to help, always remembering the restrictions of data protection.

I have also recently taken on the role of Vice Chairperson although, as we have such an efficient Chair in Sue Blackly, there really isn’t that much work to do within this role, it consists mainly of being on hand to support her and to help with some of the jobs that come up within the committee.

I have now begun attending the Nottinghamshire Network of U3As as the representative from Beeston and I also attended the National Conference this year for the first time, something I can highly recommend to anyone who enjoys coming to U3A events. It really is extremely interesting to begin to see the wider impact U3A has, enriching the lives of all of us who are now living through and thoroughly enjoying our third age.

May 2015

Click on Beeston U3A Annual General Meeting- Acting Chairperson’s Report to read the report from Helen Stewart delivered at the AGM on 7 May 2015.

Click on Beeston U3A General Fund Accounts to see the accounts presented at the meeting.

See Minutes of the 4th AGM of Beeston U3A Held on 7 May 2015.

Following the 2015 AGM on 7 May 2015 the Committee 2015-2016 is:

Sue Blackley Chair
Richard Eddleston Business Secretary
Malcolm Brookbanks Treasurer
Chris Chater Group Coordinator
Lucy Beardsley Speaker Seeker/ Outings Organiser
Margot Gale Membership Secretary/Vice Chair
Marie Potts Communications Officer
Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock Minutes Secretary
Breda Cooper Committee Member
Stephen Austin Publicity Officer
Jo Muxlow Social Treasurer

June 2015 Newsletter – A Message from our new Chair, Sue Blackley

SueDear Members,

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to chair Beeston U3A although I know my predecessors will be hard acts to follow. I was involved in education all my working life and I am committed to lifelong learning. U3A, I feel, is the perfect vehicle for this.

I think we have a vibrant and exciting U3A in Beeston with a very hard working committee and fantastic group leaders and I look forward to seeing it develop further over the next year. I would like to see more new groups, more events and members taking part in Shared Learning Projects. Hopefully we can also work more closely with the U3A’s in our cluster group and become more aware of events regionally and nationally.

Do let the committee know if you have any ideas/ comments to make and please use our suggestion box. Come and talk to us at open meetings and let us know your views.

This is your U3A and your opinions count.

We want our U3A to be one of the best so here’s to onward and upward as the membership grows and we continue to go from strength to strength.

Sue Blackley

December 2014 Newsletter

Committee News
We are pleased to announce that the post of Treasurer has been accepted by Malcolm Brookbanks. Initially, Malcolm will work in tandem with Anne Allery, who has been acting Treasurer since the sad loss of David Hurworth. The committee would like to thank Malcolm for volunteering and Anne for stepping into the breach and for supporting Malcolm as he takes on this task.

November 2014

Helen Stewart, Acting Chairman writes:

People use the term “roller coaster” far too frequently but 2014 has been a roller coaster ride for Beeston U3A.

There have been many positives; it started excellently at the AGM with our Group Leaders showing the membership what they do throughout the year. In fact, it was so good that everyone felt that it should be a bi-annual affair. We have also had some excellent speakers and some exciting trips organised by Lucy Beardsley and it would be churlish to single out any individual speaker or trip out. Sue Blackley has also organised some exciting events in 2014; a genuinely fascinating quiz in the summer; an afternoon tea raising money for MacMillan’s charity in the autumn and a Sixties’ Evening at the end of the year. Individual members have also had tremendous success with one of our writers having her first novel published; Silent Links by Margaret Thornber is a fascinating read.

To balance the positives there have been significant negatives. Firstly, came the resignation of Jim Turner as Group Co-ordinator. Jim had been an original member of the committee and had been responsible for organising the groups in the first place. He had agreed to stay longer than he first intended but, eventually, he could not be persuaded to remain. Then, after a successful AGM, came the announcement that Liz Barnes, our popular Chairman, was leaving the area to be nearer her family in Cheshire. Liz resigned from her role in June. Suddenly the committee was in disarray with two significant posts having to be covered until the next AGM. Helen Stewart (Vice Chair) took on the role of Group Co-ordinator but, being Vice Chair, found herself as Acting Chairman. Steve Austin, webmaster and publicity officer, stepped in to take over the groups from Helen.

However, the problems were not over as we then had the sudden and sad death of our Treasurer, David Hurworth. David was a gentle and unflappable person who had looked after our money for almost two years. We were absolutely shocked by his sudden death and missed him terribly. He was also greatly missed by those in his various groups. Help for the committee came in the form of Anne Allery. Anne had been the first Treasurer and she stepped in on a temporary basis whilst we advertised for someone from the membership to take on the post. It was very gratifying that several people stepped forward and Malcolm Brookbanks agreed to take on the role at our November meeting and will work in conjunction with Anne for a short while.

To continue the roller coaster analogy there have also been changes in the groups. Some leaders have moved on and our thanks have gone with them. However, every group has managed to replace their group leader so far. We have also had new groups starting including a popular mah-jong group, a Latin group and a swimming group who have an hour’s private swimming at Bramcote Baths every Friday morning. Group Leaders and our many helpers continue to give up their time and skills to make Beeston U3A one of the most successful U3As in Nottinghamshire and without them it would not be possible to continue.

What will 2015 bring? Who knows but Beeston U3A hopes to continue to be dynamic and fascinating for everyone who belongs to it.

Helen Stewart

Committee News

LizMany of you will now be aware that, sadly, we are losing our Chair Liz Barnes. Liz has made the momentous decision to move to Cheshire to be nearer to her family and play a bigger part in the life of her new grandson, Samuel. I know that Liz has not made this decision lightly as she has many friends in Beeston but I am confident that she will settle in to Cheshire and will soon be heavily involved in Warrington U3A! I am sure you will want to join with the Committee in wishing Liz luck and happiness in the next phase of her life. See Liz’s open letter below.

A Letter From Our Retiring Chairman Liz Barnes

Hello and Goodbye!

Liz 1I expect most of you have heard that I have resigned as Chairperson for Beeston U3A. I have decided to move to Lymm in Cheshire to be near my daughter and her family. She has presented me with a grandson and I cannot resist seeing him and being a bit more of a “hands on” Granny. It has all happened rather quickly and I move at the end of August.

I have so much enjoyed being part of Beeston U3A – right from the start as a founder member! The first few years have been so much fun and I feel privileged to have been part of the developing organisation. Everyone has worked so hard to make our U3A such a success. I know we are noted for our warm and friendly welcome to new members, thriving groups, hard working committee and super Newsletter. I also know that Beeston U3A will continue to grow and have an impact on ‘Third Agers’ in the area.

I have made so many new friends at the U3A and like many of you have developed a busy social life as a result. Members often say to me that they don’t know what they did before we started up – I feel the same! You can be sure I will be joining a U3A in Cheshire.

A huge thank you to everyone who has wished me good luck in my new venture. I wish you all well and hope you continue to enjoy Beeston U3A.

Thank you for your support.

Liz Barnes

New Committee Members:

Vice Chairman Helen Stewart will now be acting Chairman until the next AGM in May and Steve Austin, our Webmaster and Publicity Officer will take on the Group Co-ordinator role.

As you will know we have lost other committee members recently and as no new people came forward at the AGM, the committee has taken the decision to co-opt three new members to the committee. We would like to welcome Breda Cooper, Jean Willgoose and Ivor Case to our motley band and wish them luck in their future endeavours for Beeston U3A.

Beeston U3A Committee 2014-2015:  

Following the resignation of Liz Barnes as Chairman and the co-opting to the Committee of Jean Willgoose, Ivor Case, Breda Cooper the Committee Members are:

Helen Stewart Acting Chairman Tel: 01159227717
Malcom Brookbanks Treasurer
Tel: 01159221725
Richard Eddleston Business Secretary Tel: 01159252586
Lucy J Beardsley Speaker Seeker Outings Organiser
Marie Potts Newsletter Editor Tel: 01159222366
Margot Gale Membership Secretary
Steve Austin Publicity Organiser and Acting Group Co-ordinator Tel: 01159288153
Sue Blackley Meeter and Greeter Organiser. Event’s Organiser Tel: 01159250235
Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock Minutes Secretary
Jean Willgoose Tel: 01158776833
Ivor Case Tel: 01158752303
Breda Cooper Tel: 01159723851

Commitee Meetings

Group Leaders and Members wishing to raise matters for discussion at Committee Meetings should send their request to the Business Secretary, Richard Eddleston, at the latest a week before the relevant Committee Meeting. Email Richard at 

U3A National Conference September 2013

Sue Blackley and Hazel Brooke gave a report on the U3A National Conference which they attended with Liz Barnes. Click on U3A National Conference to see their PowerPoint presentation.

September 2013 Committee Chatter

Subscription Payments

The Treasurer, David Hurworth, has been looking into more efficient ways that members can pay their annual subscription. He has discovered that paying by Direct Debit is not an option but that members can set up Standing Order on their own account which will instruct their bank to pay an annual fee on a set date. Another method is that members can pay their subscription by bank transfer directly from their account into Beeston U3A account. Members can of course still choose to pay by cash or cheque at the Open Meeting or by post as they have been doing from the beginning.
Should you choose to use either of the bank methods of payment, you will need details of Beeston U3A Bank Account which can be given on application.

Online Courses

Our Secretary, Richard Eddleston, advises: The U3A Nationally is running a number of tutored online courses in the autumn. These include:
• Short Stories,
• Just Before Victoria,
• Three Viking Women,
• The First World War;
• The Home Front
• Digital Imaging
• An Introduction to Anglo Saxon Poetry.

To find out more, or to register for them, go to the website at Then click on the online courses menu item.

“Fun with Numbers” leader Graham has been having “Fun with Tables”.  Many of our members belong to multiple groups. Graham has produced a very useful chart which shows the complete U3A Month.  It is a table of all Group activities, times and venues and enables the keenest U3A-er to see at a glance where and when things are taking place.  This chart is attached at the end of the September Newsletter.  Many thanks to Graham.

June 2013 Committee Chatter – Featuring Marie Potts, Newsletter Editor and Helen Stewart, Vice Chairman

As we start our third year of Beeston u3a, I thought I would share my thoughts. When I first heard that there was to be a U3A, I confess I knew little about the organisation but it sounded interesting. I started gently by offering to help my good friend and neighbour who had found herself on the committee. Little did I know what was in store for me! It transpired that the person who had originally volunteered to produce a newsletter had had a change of heart and I found myself thinking, well “How hard can it be, I can do word processing, I can type, I have a computer” so I volunteered.

Thereby began a steep learning curve. I had no clue what I was doing but soldiered on, learning as I went, making up what I didn’t know and in the process, learnt a lot more about word processing by trial and error. I was extremely lucky in that I was supported by a great committee, but more importantly by the group leaders who put up with my badgering and cajoling and who contribute their articles, regularly and uncomplainingly. Without doubt, it is they who write the newsletter, I just put it together.

Members and Committee alike seemed to like what we were producing and I found as I went along, that my enjoyment of the job and my confidence grew and grew. Along the way I met many new people, some of whom have become firm friends. As my confidence grew, I felt able to volunteer to run the New Members Coffee morning sessions and then to start up our Group for Single Members, known as Buddies. There I made even more friends.

I tell you all this, not to blow my own trumpet but to say that being a member of U3A has enabled me to grow as a person, from “just a pensioner” into a person who is both giving something back, and gaining something from life, in this Third Age. And to say to you all, that one just doesn’t know what one has inside of one until something like this teases it out. U3A is about Life Long Learning, but much more. It’s about Life Long Living. U3A is about volunteering, sharing your knowledge, your experience, and your wisdom. It’s about enrichment by taking part and gaining benefit from the knowledge experience and wisdom of others. We all have something to give. So don’t be afraid to volunteer. Your U3A needs you.


THE REWARDS OF BEING A GROUP LEADER by Helen Stewart Art History and Writing for Pleasure

I was delighted when I first heard that Beeston was going to start its own branch of U3A. I had only recently retired and, being a firm believer in life-long learning, I was keen to be involved. At the inaugural meeting in 2011 I happily filled in my form stating several of my interests: art, art history and reading. Thence came the phone call from Jim Turner: would I be willing to start an Art History group? My first response was to say no, as Art History was something I had not tackled for years, and I felt there would be others much better qualified to take it on. Then I thought that if everyone reacted in the same way we would never kick-start our own U3A branch in Beeston so I agreed to lead it.

We held our first Art History meeting in the CMC and about eighteen people turned up. I had prepared some questions the day before: where should we meet? How often? What should our programme look like? What artists do people enjoy? Why did everyone here want to do a course on Art History? This led to some lively contributions and when I asked for a few volunteers to stay behind to thrash it out further a small but dedicated committee was formed. I am delighted to say that, apart from illness, the core of that committee has stayed together and has been instrumental in the success of the group. So much so that we grew from our first eighteen people to thirty and now to sixty. We began in a small room at Oban House but were soon spilling out of the doors and Health and Safety became an issue so we moved to the Guild Room at CMC where we have stayed.

My involvement with leading the group Writing for Pleasure was completely different. I had taught English for thirty-eight years and when I heard that a “Short Story Group” was being formed I was keen to join. Unfortunately, after a year, the leader of the group dropped out. By that time we had become a regular band of writers who were unwilling to see our group fold because of the lack of a leader. We held an emergency meeting and decided, like a phoenix, we would rise again with a different emphasis and we would advertise our new “Writing for Pleasure” group to the members of Beeston U3A. We grew from six stalwarts to a group of fifteen keen amateur writers. I was
asked to lead the group simply because of my background in language and I agreed to do so on a temporary basis; a temporary basis which has now lasted seven or so months.

What does it mean to be a Group Leader? Firstly, it is not an isolated role. In both of my groups I have some outstanding people who assist me with finance, with secretarial duties and with drawing up the programme. I may have some initial ideas but they are discussed and adapted to suit the needs of the group. I know that, were I to disappear tomorrow, both Art History and Writing for Pleasure would continue without me – and that is how it should be. I would like to think that the members feel that our groups are not just monthly meetings but “clubs” and I try to keep in touch with everyone in between our fixed dates. This gives me the chance to let people know about TV
programmes or writing competitions or special events that we have arranged. I am also privileged in not having to produce all the session s myself. In Art History there is an increasing group of talented people who have learnt to give excellent power point presentations on certain artists and every month in Writing For Pleasure someone from the group has opted to lead us in a different form of writing. My job then becomes one of ensuring that everything goes smoothly. So what benefits do I personally gain? In giving talks and leading the groups I am building on my
own knowledge and learning new information – so my own goal of life-long learning is achieved. I am using the skills I had whilst at work: communication with others and the ability to organise and plan ahead. Most of all though, I have made new friends. These are not colleagues who are paid to work together but people with like-minds, who are generous with their time and individual skills and who support each other when the need arises. If you are thinking about starting a new group or taking over an existing group then there is one piece of advice I would give: ensure you are not alone. Encourage a core of people to support you whether creatively or with the collection of money or keeping lists of names or writing an account for the newsletter; and who are there to take over the monthly meeting if you cannot be present yourself. Obviously, there are several people on the main Committee to turn to in times of need but having people within your own area will make life so much easier for you. Above all, enjoy it. I still have enormous pleasure in running these groups and the day that pleasure ends will be the day that I step down.


December 2012 Committee Chatter

This month we hear from Elizabeth Le Marchant-Brock a relatively new member of the committee, who writes:

When my friend Eileen passed a flyer to me that she had picked up about the possibility of a U3A group being formed at Beeston, little did I know how involved with it I would be – in fact I nearly didn’t go to that meeting but so glad I made the effort.

Since joining the U3A I have volunteered to become the secretary of both the Art Appreciation and Art History Group and I love doing it. I never imagined I would be giving talks on Rubens, Caravaggio, Monet and Degas to the very patient members of the Art History group or helping organize visits to art galleries – neither of which I had done before. I also set up the Cinema Group but since joining the committee and becoming the Minutes Secretary I have passed that position on to Alan. I also help with the registration of new members at the monthly meetings and lend a hand with other activities and I still manage to go to the monthly lunch club outings and cinema visits. I’m so grateful that the U3A started up in Beeston as it has enriched my life immeasurably.


September 2012 Committee Chatter
On behalf of Beeston U3A, Committee members Jane Wild and Liz Barnes attended the EAST MIDLANDS REGION U3A CONFERENCE 2012 in Loughborough in July. The minutes of last year’s AGM were approved and Officers reports accepted. The report on the review of the Regional Structure was accepted and the revised constitution was approved. These documents are available on the appropriate website. It was proposed and accepted that each U3A in the region would contribute towards the cost of running the Regional Network.
The theme for the day was ‘Communication’ and all the speakers used this as a basis for their talk. 110 delegates attended the event representing 36 U3A’s. The first speaker, Hilary Stringer, Chair of the Third Age Trust Communications Committee, spoke on the theory of good communication and the many and varied methods we should be using – spoken, written, email, text etc and a number of action points were discussed.
The next speaker, Liz Wilson, Regional Trustee East Midlands/Representative on the National Executive Committee and on the Communications Committee, spoke about the importance of Networking and face to face communication. Liz stressed that no U3A is an Island! She recommended Workshops for Group Leaders and study mornings. Liz will also be organising a Regional Music Festival to celebrate 30 years of the U3A either in the autumn or spring next year.
Eric Midwinter, a co-founder of U3A in the UK then explained the formation and development of the UK’s U3A organisation over the last 30 years, describing it as a “Darby and Joan High School”. Eric emphasized the benefits of the current structure of the U3A movement, where there was National oversight but with local autonomy.
The final item on the agenda was to receive nominations for the regional trustee. This matter was unresolved and will be further discussed at the next committee meeting.

June 2012 Committee Chatter
In the last newsletters we have featured the Chairman, the Group Co-ordinator, the Treasurer and the Secretary to write a few words about their position on the committee and how they see their roles within the U3A. This issue features Jane Wild, Vice Chairman and Joint Membership Secretary and Liz Barnes, Joint Membership Secretary.

Jane writes: Cynics say “never volunteer for anything” – I am so glad I didn’t follow their advice when I attended the very first meeting of Beeston U3A on Thursday 7th April 2011. I had recently moved to the area and wanted to meet people and hopefully make some new friends. The large attendance at that first meeting was amazing and the only seats available when I arrived were on the front row. You can guess the rest …..

0ne hectic year later I have just been “promoted” from a volunteer member of the Steering Committee to elected Vice-Chairman/Joint Membership Secretary. I deputise for our Chairman when she has other commitments and work closely with Liz Barnes (Membership Secretary) managing the Membership database. I have also taken Committee Meeting minutes for our Business Secretary (Haydn), deputised for our Speaker Seeker (Lucy), joined the Technical Sub-Committee, became a Joint Group Leader and joined four interest groups! I am proud to be involved with Beeston U3A and, like my Committee Member colleagues/friends, am dedicated to ensuring that Beeston U3A continues to grow and thrive in the future.

Liz writes: Do you enjoy working with computers? Love spreadsheets/databases? If so this is the job for you! It is a busy job and can be time-consuming BUT you do get to meet lots of people! When I took on the joint role of Membership Secretary with Jane I had no idea what it would involve! I had no experience of a similar role. At the end of the first year we had 370 members and basic information on names, addresses, telephone numbers and email have to be stored in an easy to access format. Spreadsheets have been the best format for me. Jane and I have worked together in recording the information and in sorting out a few problems! I made some mistakes in the early days! We have spent ages checking and rechecking numbers!

Re- registration has been a busy time but much easier as we can update our original spreadsheet. Beeston U3A continues to grow. Every month we have anything from 10 to 20 new members – so we are not getting lazy!
I really enjoy the job but could not do it on my own. It is a pleasure to meet all our members and renew acquaintances with work colleagues and ‘school gate’ Mums. Thanks to the committee, members and Jane for all your support.

March 2012 Committee Chatter
In the last newsletter we featured the Chairman and the Group Co-ordinator. Now it is the turn of Anne Allery, Treasurer and Haydn Boothroyd, Secretary, to write a few words about their position on the committee and how they see their roles within the U3A.

Anne Allery, Treasurer, writes: The role of treasurer is clearly specified in U3A documents. I operate bank accounts for both the main committee and interest groups who need to collect relatively large amounts of money and want cheques from time to time. I maintain accurate financial details, keep invoices and receipts. I report to the committee on finance at each committee meeting. I pay invoices and approved expenses. I shall prepare a statement of accounts for examination and presentation at the AGM.
I have no financial qualifications other than being an honest person and getting a real buzz when the accounts balance!!

Haydn Boothroyd, Secertary, writes: “Tell us about the role of the Secretary”, invited the Newsletter Editor, “in 500 words”. So here goes! As I see it there are two aspects to the role of Secretary – keeping records and communicating i.e. making sure that the relevant people have the necessary information to fulfil their roles. How does this work out? Our Steering Committee meets on a monthly basis so there’s an agenda to prepare and, subsequently, minutes to write, also recording who shall action decisions made by the Committee. Outside the Beeston group, other U3As in the county meet in the Notts. Network. Information comes in to the Secretary from that source – invariably by email – which may need to go to the Treasurer or to our Group Coordinator.
All U3As are part of a national (indeed international) network and each month there are mail shots from Head Office which may need further action. It’s a question of deciding what is of relevance.
As a local institution we are increasingly approached by local causes seeking publicity, for example a research project at the QMC and the Canalside Heritage Centre Trust at Beeston Lock.
How much time does all this take? Difficult to say. Sometimes a week goes by and nothing happens, then communications will come in from both County and Head Office.
The rewards are: bumping into people in Beeston saying quizzically “I’ve seen you at U3A haven’t I?”, hearing the “buzz” of interest at an Open Meeting, and in Interest Groups, and working with a dedicated committee who are determined to see our U3A flourish.

December 2011 Committee Chatter
Its our plan, when we publish a Newsletter, to invite members of the Committee to write a few words about their position on the Committee and how they see their roles within the U3A. We start in December 2011 with Sue Cotton, Chairman and Jim Turner, Groups Co-ordinator.

Sue Cotton, Chairman, writes: I see the role of Chairman of any organisation as being that of an “overviewer” to ensure that operations run smoothly, and of “longviewer” to keep things on track into the future. If problems occur, only then should the Chairman become directly involved – a bit like a reserve player, but meanwhile keeping abreast of day to day running arrangements in order to be able to fulfil that role. In the case of our U3A, chairing meetings and listening to members provides that information. We are fortunate in our committee members. They are focussed, hard working, committed, and a pleasure to work with.

Jim Turner, Groups Co-ordinator writes: At the very first Open Meeting to form a U3A in Beeston, some 200 people filled in pink forms outlining what they would be interested in Beeston U3A doing. Over the next few days I read all these and came up with a list of 17 topics which seemed to be particularly popular. The next job was to find people willing to act as leaders of these groups; a certain amount of telephone arm-twisting yielded 17 splendid volunteers! At the next Open Meeting people signed up for the 17 groups and were given the details of the leaders and the first meetings of the groups. These meetings got the groups up and running.

Since then we have increased the number of groups to 31, partly as a result of suggestions from members. My role now is to explore the possibility of new groups, to report interesting developments at the Open Meetings, and to keep a friendly eye on the established groups, in particular to answer any queries. I welcome suggestions from members about possible new groups, particularly from people prepared to lead a new group.

The whole thing only works because of the commitment of the group leaders to whom we all owe a great deal.