u3a - Local History

Local History


Contact the Subject Adviser 


Background of subject adviser Sandra Whitnell

I’m an experienced facilitator with an MSC in learning and development. I facilitate Tweeddale u3a local history group and three writing groups for Trust U3A. I write historical fiction and nonfiction based on my research.

My interest in local history came from researching my family history. I loved finding out about the lives my ancestors lived, from the Birmingham back to backs to the Harleys of Harley Street. I was totally hooked.

When we moved to the Scottish Borders, I joined the U3A local history group, partly to get under the skin of my new hometown. It was a small step from researching my family to finding out about the lives and times of past residents, institutions, and amenities.

I’ve facilitated the group for the past eight years, experimenting with a wide range of approaches and preferences. There isn’t much we haven’t tried!

In my new role as u3a's national advisor for local history, my main focus will be to:

  • support members setting up new groups, by discussing options and ideas.
  • encourage and enable groups to share ideas and resources and
  • help us access generic expertise, skills and knowledge that will help us explore the history of our local areas.


There isn’t a subject advisor for local history currently, so I’m starting from scratch! To help develop resources I’d like to know:

  • Your top tip for starting up a new local history group, and
  • Your thoughts on the role.