u3a - Third Age Matters Autumn 2021 Issue - Screenreader Edition

Table of Contents

cover image: solent news & photo agency / love productions. This page: peter alvey


third age



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Back to Contents


With the Paralympics still fresh in our minds, how inspiring to hear about our very own Paralympian, Ros Hardiman, and her many achievements. And there’s a changing of the guard at U3A, as we now have a new Chair in Liz Thackray and say goodbye to Ian McCannah and other officers who have dedicated three years to serving the U3A as volunteers during a really difficult time. You can read about Liz’s vision for the U3A in this issue.

It was lovely to see so many members turn out for the very first U3A Day and the start of people getting back together. Read how a U3A managed to recruit more than 100 new members during lockdown and get tips on how you can do the same. I hope you enjoy this autumn issue.



Back to Contents


Cover story

8 Paralympian and cross-Channel swimmer Ros Hardiman tells
her story


4 AGM news

5 Meet your new Chair

6 Help create a 40th Anniversary wood

14 U3A Day photos

16 Curtain up!

17 Recruiting members

19 U3A shop!

20 U3A digital strategy


21 Online events


22 Music, fashion . . . and squatting with Great British Sewing Bee’s Esme Young

27 Getting published at 78, plus TV’s Dr Hilary Jones on his new novel

28 My Favourite Walk

30 Retro recipes

33 Behind the scenes with the team that makes costumes for Strictly Come Dancing


35 Keeping up with the scammers


37 View from the Chair

39 Eric Midwinter


41 How to help research the lives of children left at London’s Foundling Hospital

45 New chess network and Films Subject Adviser

47 Saving the planet

48 Subject Advisers

51 Meet the team behind the U3A Radio podcasts


53 The history behind the world’s first electronic digital computer

59 Take a ride with the Silver Dream Bikers

61 Secrets hidden inside old books

67 Working at BBC’s Bush House in the 1960s


71 Win hotel and theatre tickets


73 Crossword/Bridge

75 Professor Rebus

77 Thankful for help from my friends; the importance of space technology; costly
heat pumps



Editor Joanne Smith

Twitter @MagU3A | Facebook @U3Auk


Back to Contents

agm news


The changing faces of U3A

A new, modern image is among the achievements of outgoing Chair Ian McCannah, who also oversaw the Trust’s advice and support to U3As during the pandemic, including how to retain members and recruit new ones, and delivery of the medium-term development plan.

Outgoing Vice-Chair Hilary Jones introduced mentoring for new regional trustees, helped set up Trust U3A and chaired Network Link. She has loved the variety of work the role has brought her, including learning how to give presentations on Zoom and supporting U3As that were struggling to keep connected during lockdown.

Richard Teare, who will be remembered for his humour and making the accounts easier to understand, stands down as Treasurer to be replaced by Derek Harwood, Chair of Islington U3A and a former chartered engineer. Ex-nurse Sue Shannon-Jones, of Swansea U3A, has been elected Trustee for Wales, replacing Chris Winner. Jean Hogg has been reappointed Trustee for the East Midlands for one year. John Bent is re-elected Trustee for the London region.

‘By working together, we will overcome the challenges of Covid’

Outgoing Chair Ian McCannah paid tribute at the Trust’s
first hybrid AGM to the many U3A volunteers and staff who
had worked tirelessly during the pandemic to keep the movement going.

He said there has been a fall in membership of about 20 per cent but it is hoped member levels will revert to the historic pre-pandemic levels. However, Ian warned that the Trust will need to keep a tight control on finances.

“Reserves are healthy now and can withstand these crosswinds in the short-term,” he said.

Autumn, Winter and Summer Schools all went online and there had been various online talks, competitions and workshops delivered by volunteers and staff, and enjoyed by thousands of members throughout the country.

“We could not function without the volunteer support from members. Expertise gained in many fields during your working lives and your deep understanding of the U3A movement has proved invaluable,” he said.

“We all appreciate the challenges that Covid presents. However, I am certain that by working together we will overcome them so that the movement will thrive and prosper in the future.”


Covid delivered an unexpected financial bonus to the Trust with finances returning a surplus for 2020/21, treasurer Richard Teare told the AGM. This was mainly due to a large fall in expenditure as meetings went online.

However, the budget for 2021/2022 shows a deficit as membership levels are expected to fall by around 20 per cent. Forecasts show that, with uncertainty over Covid continuing to affect the U3A membership, the movement may not return to a surplus for three years to 31 March, 2024, despite the rise in membership subscriptions to £4 per member from April 2022.

The main cost to the Trust is its paid staff. Richard said staff had managed to work from home during the pandemic, with many working over their contracted hours, and their efforts were often not fully appreciated by U3As.

The two main sources of income for the trading arm of the U3A, Third Age Trust Trading Limited (TATTL), are TAM and licences for Beacon, the online admin support system for U3As. Advertising in TAM held up well and the number of U3As using Beacon increased. However, problems with the third party delivering Beacon 2 led to £81,000 being written off for this year, resulting in TATTL making a loss of £41,000. With the introduction of the U3A shop and other income lines, TATTL is expected to make a profit in 2022. Richard said the Trust has enough in reserves to cover further lockdowns and a dramatic fall in membership, but efforts have to be made to recruit more members who are not necessarily retired but are no longer in full-time work, and to update its digital technology.

Unexpected windfall for U3A

Trust to look at options for Beacon 2


Questions from the floor included whether Beacon 2 was a reality or was continued commitment to it like ‘flogging a dead horse’? U3A chief executive Sam Mauger said that Beacon 2 was still a reality as it was very important to all Beacon users, and that the Trust would be looking at its future through its digital strategy to ensure it is fit for purpose and user-friendly for U3As.

This year’s AGM was a hybrid meeting,

which was streamed live

peter alvey

I didn’t see it as doing anything special. I just stuck my head above the parapet and got involved

Meet your new Chair
Liz Thackray

Diversity and inclusion are high on Vice-Chair’s priority list

New Vice-Chair Michaela Moody told the AGM that next year’s 40th anniversary of the movement would be an opportunity to look forward, not back, and presented an ideal time to promote diversity and inclusion within U3As.

“We’ve tried to increase diversity and inclusion over the years but it was more lip service than anything because we never really tackled it,” she said. “Well, that’s going to change. The time is ripe for us to make sure U3As are representative of their communities.”

The future for U3A is going to be more digital and, thanks to the pandemic, many members are now in a good place to embrace technology. However, she echoed Chair Liz Thackray when she told members: “Rest assured, we will never become a digital-only movement.” Michaela was also Vice-Chair from 2015 to 2018.

CEO Sam Mauger said: “The Trust has run diversity and inclusion workshops as part of Keeping It Legal training and now there will be a further effort to embed inclusion into all aspects of U3A activity.”

It’s been a meteoric rise for Liz Thackray, from joining Flintshire U3A just three years ago to improve her German to being voted national Chair.

Is she surprised at this turn of events? Initially maybe, but she has had plenty of support and wants more new blood to join her on the U3A journey.

Some members will know Liz as the person who initiated the U3A’s national move onto Zoom in March 2020. With her IT and community work background, Liz was ideally placed to help U3A staff and members get to grips with the online conferencing phenomenon Zoom that few people had heard of rather than see activities mothballed.

“I didn’t see it as doing anything special,” she says. “I just stuck my head above the parapet and got involved.”

When the pandemic struck, her U3A announced it would close. “I thought, ‘Blow that, what about video conferencing?’,” she says. “I went back to my U3A German group and said, ‘We don’t have to close, we have an option’.”

And when Liz learnt that the Trust was experimenting with video conferencing, she fired off an email offering her help. Soon, she was running Zoom tutorials.

Liz went on to join the Beyond Lockdown working group and another group developing online training. “I was starting to meet people and getting a bigger picture of what U3A is about, with no thoughts of taking it anywhere,” she says. “I was enjoying it and it was keeping me alive, basically, through lockdown.”

Liz had assumed that U3A trustees would have first served on committees at a local level, so she was surprised when it was suggested she might like to stand as national Vice-Chair or Chair.

“Coming in with a clean slate means
I can ask questions that can’t normally be asked and I can’t make assumptions,” she says. “I don’t want to rock the boat but
I do know that we have got to change in order to be the organisation that we were set up to be.”

Liz stresses that U3A is not going to go totally digital. “That would be crazy,” she says. “But we are not going to always do things in the ways we always did. What the U3A has shown itself to be over the past 18 months is to be agile, to be open to change, open to doing new things.”

Hybrid groups – a mix of online and face-to-face activities – will enable members who can no longer attend meetings in person to take part in U3A.

Problems with U3A recruitment slowing down had been identified before Covid. “Any organisation that doesn’t get new blood won’t continue to grow or thrive,” she says. “Too many committees are dependent on people who have been there for a long time. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have people with experience, it’s a good thing because experience is essential. But if you don’t bring in new blood with new ideas, you stagnate.

“I am sure that, just as I have popped up out of virtually nowhere, there are other people who have got things to offer and, if they knew they were welcome, they could be the people who take us forward over the next decade or so.

“This is not about throwing out the baby with the bath water, it’s about us together looking at how we move forward, accepting that some things may have to change to make space for the new.”

Liz has worked with voluntary and self-help organisations, including roles as Chief Officer of Age Concern Westminster and Director of Social and Community work for the Diocese of London. After having a son on the autistic spectrum, she set up a self-help group for parents and took a Masters conversion degree in IT, becoming a lecturer for the Open University.


Join us to create a new wood!


berwick on tweed nature trail features on the bbc

A nature trail created by Berwick on Tweed U3A’s Environmental Group was featured on BBC Look North. Weatherman Paul Mooney explored the 2.8-mile route and the feature aired the day before U3A Day in June, providing excellent publicity for the movement. The U3A group worked with Berwick Wildlife Group to provide 14 information sheets which are displayed in bright blue butterfly-shaped boards along the route. They are changed every seaon, highlighting what to look out for, such as carder bees and orange-tip butterflies. For more details, go to

A new woodland is being created to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the U3A movement and contribute to reducing our carbon footprint. It is a unique project by the Third Age Trust but is also seen as contributing to the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative to mark her Platinum Jubilee.

The aim is to plant at least 5,000 native trees on 10 hectares of low-grade agricultural land on the England/Wales border. Members can pay for trees to be planted for themselves or as gifts. The scheme is part of an ambition to increase the UK’s percentage of woodland and the benefits that come with it, such as flood protection and increasing biodiversity.

The Government announced plans this year to treble tree-planting rates by the end of this parliament, planting approximately 7,000 hectares of woodland by 2024, in a bid to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The trees being planted in the U3A 40th Anniversary Wood will be native to the UK, around two years old and will be planted mainly by volunteers. They will be looked after for 12 years and replaced if necessary. Trees will include oak, rowan, hawthorn, hazel and field maple.

The site for the wood is on the eastern slope of Sugar Loaf Mountain within the Brecon Beacons National Park. A public footpath runs next to the planting site, enabling visitors to have a good view of the wood. The planting will allow for glades to create habitat for butterflies and other invertebrates.

This initiative is being managed through a partnership with an experienced group that will maintain oversight of the planting and development of the wood.

Trees can be bought from the U3A Brand Centre and a certificate is available for each tree bought. The cost per tree is £7.50, which reduces if you buy more than one. Members can also buy a copse of 100 trees and have it named with a plaque and information about its GPS coordinates. The new wood will be marked ‘U3A 40th Anniversary Wood’.




An oak sapling

planted on the

Brecon Beacons


40 years of U3A

Plans to mark the 40th anniversary include a quilt competition, with members invited to submit blocks for an anniversary quilt on the topic of positive ageing. The 40 best squares will be used to create the quilt. The central medallion is being created by quilter Ruth Smith, of Newcastle Emlyn U3A. Ruth started needlework as a child and after retiring completed a City & Guilds in Patchwork and Appliqué. During 2019/2020, Ruth coordinated and constructed the Castles of Wales quilt, which was part of a Shared Learning Project. Details of how to enter are on the U3A website under the Events tab.

Other events in the pipeline include a discussion between Eric Midwinter, one of the founders of the U3A, with a member of a new U3A, the national chair and a well-known national figure with an interest in positive ageing.

An intergenerational debate is also being planned, when U3As will debate the topic Making A Contribution.

Ruth at work

mike erskine

Back to Contents

Cover Story

Rosalinda on

Southsea Beach,

where she got the

bug for open-water


At six years old, Rosalinda Hardiman contracted polio which left her unable to use her legs. Yet the U3A member is a Paralympian, has broken eight world swimming records, swum the Channel and Loch Ness. Here, she tells her inspiring story to Joanne Smith . . .

Always believe in

yourself. The more you do, the more you can do

solent news & photo agency / paul gonella

Rosalinda Hardiman was just 0.7
of a mile from the French coast when she was hauled, completely exhausted, from the water. The Paralympian swimmer had given it all
she had but ran out of energy within sight of the beach.

“It was absolute sheer exhaustion. I had no more to give,” she tells me. “Apparently, I was automatically swimming but not making any progress, I was going back against the current.”

The support crew got her out of the water but Ros doesn’t remember that.
“I just remember coming round on the deck of the boat. I had been in so much pain for five hours with a shoulder injury, it was absolutely black. They made the right decision, I wasn’t going to make it.
I was really upset I hadn’t made it but they made the right call. People have died swimming the Channel and if they
had left me in any longer, it could have been me.”

That setback didn’t put her off and the next year she returned and swam the Channel in 20 hours and 17 minutes. Not bad for a woman who lost the use of her legs through polio.

And in 2019, at the age of 67, Ros was back in the water for an even more difficult swim – Loch Ness. Only 16 people have swum Loch Ness because it’s so difficult. “It’s very cold, a lot colder than the Channel. It’s very dark and there are problems with logistics,” says Ros. “It’s very long – it’s 23 miles and people don’t want to swim that length in cold water. I’m the oldest British woman to have swum it and the only disabled person to have done so.”

Ros learnt to swim when she was a child but as she had to have long periods in hospital, she was forced to give up. Her mother, a graphic designer, instilled a love of art in her, and so she went to Stirling University to study English and History of Art, where she was invited to catalogue the university’s art collection. She then went on to read Museum Studies at Manchester University.

It wasn’t until she moved to Portsmouth as an adult in the 1980s to take up a role as curator at Portsmouth Museum that she took up swimming again. However, able-bodied swimming clubs refused to let Ros join, saying she ‘wouldn’t fit in’.
“I encountered a lot of prejudice that they wouldn’t get away with now,” she tells me.

She joined a local disability swimming club and very soon they were entering her in galas which, to her surprise, she won. In 1991, she joined the national disability team and was selected for both the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996 and Sydney in 2000. “I got to the Paralympics but not with the coaching I should have been getting because I wasn’t able to join an able-bodied club,” she says.

With the introduction of the National Lottery, sport became increasingly professional but Ros, by now in her 40s, wasn’t going to give up her career as a museum curator to swim full-time, so she turned to open-water swimming.

“I loved my job and pride myself that
I was reasonably good at it, and swimming was supposed to be my relaxation,” she says. “I got two world records in 2001, for the 50-metre breaststroke and the 50-metre backstroke, and I thought it was possibly time to stop.”

However, living in Portsmouth and gazing across the Solent to the Isle of Wight, Ros wondered if she could swim there and decided to take up open-water swimming. “I thought, ‘Oh, I fancy doing that’ – better views and you don’t have to worry about turning,” she says.

Not content with simply going for a swim, Ros entered several three- and five-kilometre open-water competitions where she was up against able-bodied swimmers.

“I really got the bug,” she says. “You are competing in age ranges. I got first, second and third place in a lot of those, which I was really pleased about because
I was competing against able-bodied swimmers. I just had the stamina. Many of them would blast off at the start and then, after the first kilometre, would begin to fade, whereas I would carry on and not be exhausted.”

After Ros had completed several Solent swims, she began to dream of the big one – the English Channel solo swim. A lot of research was needed as well as specific training, so she joined a Channel swimming group based in Dover, which meant travelling from Hampshire to Kent every weekend to train. Training included two Channel relays in 2006 and 2007, plus two swims of Lake Windermere in 2007 and 2008. Now she was ready to attempt the Channel.

Cross-Channel swimmers are not allowed to wear wetsuits because they have to do it in the same conditions as Captain Matthew Webb, who was the first recorded person to swim the English Channel without the use of artificial aids in 1875. So how did Ros cope with the cold? “I am quite large and that helps, you do need the insulation,” she says. “If you look at Channel swimmers, they are all carrying a bit of weight. Quite often, they are told to put on two or three stones before they even think about swimming the Channel.”

Captain Webb used goose grease for insulation but that blocks your pores. Instead, swimmers now use Vaseline on parts of the body where the costume might rub, such as the neck, armpits, back of the neck and groin. One of the biggest problems, though, is swallowing salt water. “It burns the lining of your mouth,” explains Ros. “After my Channel swims,
I could only talk in a funny way because my mouth was all swollen. I lost the lining of my mouth, it was so sore. It also makes you sick if you swallow too much salt and
I have been seasick many times while swimming.

“Taking in high-carbohydrate drinks together with the salt, the waves going up and down and, if swimming at night in total darkness with only the lights of the pilot boat to guide you, is very disorientating, so all these things combined makes many people sick while doing long-distance swims.”

Ros’s first attempt at the Channel was on 1 October, 2008, when she started her swim from Samphire Hoe near Dover. But after 25 hours and 14 minutes, and just 0.7 of a mile from the French coast, she was hauled from the water.

It was a hard decision for her to return the following year and attempt the feat again. But she was determined, so she put a lot of thought into how she could increase her chances of a successful crossing, which included moderating her stroke and building her mental resilience.

Her second attempt began on 26 September, 2009. Twenty hours and 17 minutes later, she was perched on a French rock after just over 89,000 strokes, 34 feeds of energy drink, six vomiting episodes and four jellyfish stings – exhausted but ecstatic.

The polio means Ros can only use her arms to swim, and although her legs are paralysed she still has feeling in them, which means she still feels the cold and jellyfish stings. Ros follows a pilot boat, which picks the route for her and gives her the food she needs along the way. They are also there to judge when the swimmer has had enough. “You depend on your pilot knowing the tides, knowing the state of the water and doing all the guidance. The pilot is really important.”

During her swims, Ros takes in high-calorie sports drinks, fruit juice and also the occasional treat to keep her going, such as a chocolate mini roll. Swimmers are normally fed every hour but sometimes the pilot will decide they need more energy. At one point, Ros was being fed every 20 minutes for the extra energy right at the end of the swim.

And she has seen some wonderful wildlife during her swims, such as dolphins and seals. But she has also had to swim over or through jellyfish, getting stung many times. Every hour or so, Ros runs through the alphabet to check that she is still mentally aware and not getting hypothermic. “It might be famous artists, musicians, boys’ names, girls’ names, makes of cars, things like that.”

At one point in the Channel, Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose slowed up for her. “The pilot has full radio communications with these ships,” she says. “I heard part of the exchange between my pilot and the captain of
HMS Montrose, who said he would slow down slightly.”

In 2019, Ros was offered the chance to swim Loch Ness, a total of 23 miles, and didn’t hesitate, even though it is regarded as extremely difficult. Only about 20 people have swum Loch Ness, and fewer than 5,000 people have completed solo cross-Channel swims.

Loch Ness has a special place in her heart. As a teenager, Ros went on holiday to Scotland and wanted to swim in Loch Ness but her father, who did not swim, forbade her to do so. “I can remember looking at the waters of the Loch and thinking, ‘Ooh, I’d like to swim in that’, not even daring to think of the length of it,” she says.

Although Loch Ness had the banks to look at, there were not many landmarks to watch out for as it was mile after mile of pine trees. But when Ros reached Urquhart Castle at Drumnadrochit, she knew she had done two-thirds of the Loch. “That’s a really dramatic sight, a 16th century castle, now in ruins, that stands on a promontory above the Loch. Dusk had already come and it was really silhouetted against the dark sky.

"As I looked up, there was a quick flash and it was actually the Northern Lights. It was a flicker, as if someone had got a paintbrush and flicked it across the sky. But I did check later and it was the Northern Lights I had seen.” As the light faded, Ros found herself swimming in total darkness. “Believe me, Loch Ness is dark. The water is practically black, there’s hardly any settlement so you don’t get any light.” She swam it in 20 hours and
10 minutes.

Ros puts her success down to ‘sheer bloody-mindedness’ and determination. She says she has always been accepted by open-water swimmers, who help her get into the water from her wheelchair and support her in other ways. But she is aware of the looks she gets from other people.

“There are people on the beach who look at me when I roll up on the promenade in my wheelchair to go for a swim, and I think, ‘Well, they don’t know what I have done and what I am capable of’,” she says. And her swimming achievements have given her confidence in other areas of her life when her abilities have been questioned. “I look across the sea to the Isle of Wight and think, ‘Well ,
I can swim there, can you?’,” she says.

Ros was Keeper of Art and then Collections Officer at Portsmouth City Museum Service. She started in 1980 and retired in 2015. She still does some heritage consultancy work, advising people how to look after their private collections.

So what’s next for Ros? “I am open to suggestions. Kevin [her pilot on the Loch Ness swim] is trying to get me to do the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland. That’s a very difficult and technical swim, cold, strong currents and infested with jellyfish. A lot of people have been defeated by the jellyfish.”

Ros has been a member of Waterlooville U3A for four years. “I joined an art history group, I have also decided to learn German for mental stimulation and, for a little light relief, play-reading.”

And should you be thinking of doing a cross-Channel swim, here’s Ros’s advice: “Always believe in yourself and put the hard work in. The more you do, the more you can do. The less you do, the less you are able to do. I have always felt ‘Go on and do more’.”

I encountered
a lot of prejudice that they wouldn’t get away
with now

Left: Ros in her Portsmouth

Museum office and cleaning

the Overlord Embroidery

Rosalinda hardiman

Success! Reaching France

in 2009 and, right, on

the boat afterwards

I lost the lining of my mouth, it was so sore. I have been seasick many times while swimming

Ros‘s impressive

collection of medals.

Above right:

Competing in

the 1990s

Ross top 5 achievements

1 Channel solo, 2009
(aged 57): 20 hrs 17 mins

2 Loch Ness, 2019
(aged 67): 20 hrs 10 mins

3 Lake Windermere, 2007:
7 hrs 30 mins

4 Two-way Solent crossing, 1984: 6 hrs 27 mins

5 Two World Records in 2001 at Sheffield in 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke

solent news & photo agency / graham bool

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U3A Day


There were tennis tournaments, swims in the sea, classic car displays, literary festivals and tea parties galore as members enjoyed the first-ever U3A Day on 2 June.

With Covid restrictions still in place, turnout was affected, with an estimated 12 per cent of the movement taking part.

Nationally, Esme Young from The Great British Sewing Bee gave an online talk to 500 members, reflecting on the issue of fashion ageism. A toolkit for ageism was also launched after the Trust joined forces with the Centre for Ageing Better to call for an end to negative and damaging views of later life.

Sam Mauger, the Third Age Trust‘s chief executive, undertook 14 radio interviews to help raise the profile of the movement.

Many U3As were featured in their local press. Mike Meadows, Subject Adviser for Amateur Radio, led a week of broadcasts to highlight the U3A movement. Three review sessions took place in June and July, with consideration given to considering a week-long event next year in either June or September. Watch this space!

Let’s get the show on the road again

preston park U3A


A good turnout for Preston Park

in sunny Brighton


Yarnbombing in

North Yorkshire

sherburn & Villages U3A


Visitors, including the Mayor,

enjoyed bands and country

dancing in Nottinghamshire

As well as litterpicks, there was a

readathon, talks and wine-tasting

in Dumfries and Galloway

Wigan put on a full day of taster

sessions, from cycling and

sketching to bowling and photography

wigan U3A

ravenshead U3A

wigtownshire U3A



alex svenson / tony cross

Members held their annual tennis

tournament and raised £700 for

The Christie at Macclesfield

A garden party with appropriately

decorated cakes was the order of

the day in East Yorkshire

holmes chapel & district U3A

Attracting attention in the

Cheshire village

cottingham U3A

teignmouth & district U3A

congleton & district U3A

Members completed

21 walks in Devon and

a swim in the sea


Brunswick, West Hove & Portslade U3A

Clearing up with the Mayor,

Councillor Alan Robins

more photos at sources.


U3As with the same name on either side of the world ‘met up’ on U3A Day - Croydon in London and Croydon in Melbourne

Members worked hard clearing

lanes leading to Penrhyn Bay



croydon U3A

Penmaenmawr & District U3A



painted pebbles

in County Durham

Karrie Skaife made this

banner for U3A Day


seaham & district U3A

isles of scilly U3A

Rowlands castle's fizzy fun!

Rowlands Castle U3A in Hampshire celebrated being able to meet up again with a cake and Prosecco garden party. Members met in the beautiful flower-filled garden of committee member Val Mitchell. “It was wonderful to be out and about and meeting each other again,” said Prue Amner. “The Prosecco ran freely, the cakes were delicious and plentiful, and the sun shone.”



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Playwrights get the professional touch

Budding U3A playwrights across Scotland were thrilled when professional actors performed live extracts of their works.

Each scene had been written by members of U3A Online Across Scotland’s Write That Play! group, led by playwright, actor and director Richard Peoples.

Richard said: “Going online let us interact despite lockdowns. We could also arrange performances of our plays thanks to a joint venture between OAS and Edinburgh-based Citadel Arts Group. They provided my co-course leader, Laure Paterson, and also paid for five actors to take part.”

New dramatist Ann Thallon said the course had boosted her confidence. “As a ‘newbie’ to U3A, I was anxious that my hearing loss would be a real barrier to taking part online,” she explained. “However, with enabling tutors, hearing-friendly strategies, and weekly summaries of the main points, I felt properly included in the group.”

  • To find out more, visit

Closed? Not us! U3A gains 100 members in lockdown

Ilkley & District U3A went into overdrive to recruit more than 100 new members this year despite the pandemic, compared with only ten in 2019.

The U3A, which has around 1,600 members, took its community by storm by placing good-news stories in the local press, developing its Facebook presence, updating its website and encouraging group leaders to use Zoom to keep activities going during lockdown.

A week of events for U3A Day in June this year, including afternoon tea where members could bring along a non-member, resulted in three times more hits to its website than usual.

Peter Mate, who leads the communications team, said: “We have worked hard to get our good-news stories in the local press and develop our Facebook presence. All our group leaders have been supported and encouraged to use Zoom.

“We have completely updated our website to make it into an attractive shop window for our U3A. We have also acquired a free QR (Quick Response) code which we put on all our publicity materials and which links directly to our website. All this activity is paying off. We have recruited 109 new members in 2021 so far.”

The U3A had a Christmas show online and its summer programme has included face-to-face talks as well as online and hybrid talks. A recent historical talk in a community hall was attended by nearly 50 members and the U3A is planning a ‘Meet the Leaders’ event showcasing
145 different activities.

Ilkley & District U3A is one of 60 U3As that have helped to develop the U3A Retention and Recruitment toolkit. You can find the toolkit on the U3A national website if you search for ‘recruitment’.

Resuming group activities safely

The Trust runs workshops about resuming activities safely and these can be requested for your region or network. The workshops cover the latest advice, what the process is for safely resuming activities, managing your interest groups and answers your questions around insurance.

To request a workshop, go to the
national U3A website and
then choose events/online-events/on-request-workshops



Do you remember the Kindertransport children?

history appeal

This is Alexander Grazewski, pictured left with his father Tobias. In March 1939, when Alex was just ten years old, he left Vienna on the Kindertransport and came to England. Tragically, his father died in Dachau concentration camp in 1945.

The U3A will be sharing the story of Alex and many other children like him in the November issue of TAM, and on a special day of online events on December 2, hosted by TAM columnist Dame Esther Rantzen.

Arun East U3A member Steve Williams will be presenting the background to this special project. He is still looking for stories from anyone who was involved, especially if your family might have hosted a Kindertransport child. What was it like to have a German child in your family as war broke out?

Let us know if you have a story to share.

  • Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    or call 0208 466 6139 and ask to speak to Georgia.


i got three hats and my coat told its life story’


During the dreary winter of 2020, Helen Nattrass, of Canterbury & District U3A, signed up for online sewing and quilting courses and started making pillbox hats. She also repaired her coat with fashionable reverse patches to make them an eye-catching feature.

“I was amazed to discover that I still had the sewing skills I learned from Granny,” she said. “Despite the excitement of the creative process, all this sewing during lockdown felt like displacement activity for normal life. But I got three hats and my coat told its life story.”

LGBTQ+ restarts

London-wide LGBTQ+ U3A group is restarting its regular monthly meetings in central London. The emphasis is on networking, supporting each other and enjoying social events, such as visits to museums and art galleries.

While the group is for U3A members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, questioning and for anyone who does not fit into the acronym, it is an open group and welcomes friends and allies of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • To find out more or to email the leader, go to the LGBTQ+ group on the Wandsworth U3A website

Diversity committee seeks new members

The U3A Diversity and Inclusion Committee is looking for new members who are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). You will need to demonstrate how you have promoted EDI, are proactive, can work collaboratively and independently, and are a good listener.

To hear more, you are invited to a coffee morning and presentation on Zoom on 19 October at 10am, where you will be given an opportunity to ask questions. If you are interested in joining the team, you will be invited for an informal interview at a later date.

  • To attend, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Seeking strollers

Are you one of the U3A groups or members helping with the Slow Ways initiative to create a UK-wide network of walking routes connecting every town and city? If so, we would like to hear from you! There is now a U3A web page on the Slow Ways website under the tab ‘Get Involved/partners’.

Slow Ways has secured seven years of National Lottery funding.

  • If you are taking part, or would like to, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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Shop at the U3A!

Fancy a U3A 40th Anniversary diary? Or a beanie hat to keep you warm this winter? Here‘s a taste of what you can find on the U3A Brand Centre



to order branded merchandise, log in to
the brand centre at




Polo shirt (with U3A

web address on

back), £15.80


mug, £4



Pencil, 20p

Ballpoint pen, £1

T-shirt (with U3A

web address on

the back),



travel mug,£5

Lapel badge,£1

Trolley coin

keyring, £1

Pocket diary -

40th anniversary,


Cotton tote

bag, £3

Baseball cap,


Can you help form a U3A digital strategy?

The Third Age Trust is looking for U3A members
with IT skills to help develop a digital strategy to make best use of modern technologies and communication channels.

The new strategy will enable the Trust to better support U3As and the national movement. It will include shaping the development or replacement of the Beacon membership system and upgrading the Trust’s systems to support local U3As, administration and online learning.

Clive Grace, chair of the Trust’s Trading Company, said: “This exciting and important venture is being developed by members of the Trust Board, the Trust’s Trading Company and other volunteers. It will take some months to complete and will involve consulting with local U3As and making sure that the Trust’s digital strategy fully responds to the needs and aspirations of the U3A movement.”

  • To find out more, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 30 September.


False eyelashes, tattoos and piercings . . . for
U3A members!

If you have ever wondered whether a fellow U3A member is wearing false eyelashes, you may be right. One in ten U3A members have eyelash extensions, according to a survey.

A fifth still have their eyebrows threaded, 17 per cent go for acrylic fingernails, seven per cent are willing to have a new tattoo and six per cent a piercing.

And it may be no surprise to learn that 80 per cent of members wear what they like and don’t care what others – including family members – think of them.

Some members revealed that ageist statements directed at them included “It surprises me to see someone of your age wearing jeans” and being directed to the bra section for older ladies as they are ‘droopier’.

The survey of more than 6,500 members – as part of U3A Day – also found that 70 per cent wear jeans, 62 per cent trainers and 12 per cent logo T-shirts, even though two-thirds felt society expects them to dress in a certain way. Half feel the range of clothes for older people is uninspiring.

The U3A has joined forces with the Centre for Ageing Better to call for an end to negative and damaging views of older people. The Centre has produced a toolkit to support U3A members to challenge ageism. You can find a link to it on the U3A website under the ‘latest news’ tab.

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what's on

Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens

Webinar with the British Library

Wednesday 29 September

10.30am - 12pm

Next month, the British Library opens the first major exhibition to consider Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, together. Using original documents and objects, it takes a fresh look at the story of these two iconic sovereign queens, revealing how, from amicable beginnings, their relationship turned into one of suspicion, distrust and betrayal.

Exhibition lead curator Dr Andrea Clarke will give an illustrated talk, providing an insight into the creation of the show and discussing some of the key objects that will be on display.

for more events and to book, go to events



Exploring World Faiths

Two online events are planned for October and November. There is no need to register in advance, just log in on the day. Links to the Zoom meetings can be found on the Subject Adviser page on the U3A website for Dr Peter Rookes, Exploring World Faiths, under the ‘Learn’ tab.

Presentation on the Jain Faith by Arvinder Jain

Monday 4 October, 10am

Faiths Working Together

Wednesday 17 November, 10am

  • Any queries should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Egyptology talks

Following a series of successful talks earlier this year, Neil Stevenson, U3A Subject Adviser for Egyptology, will be giving members another fascinating glimpse into ancient Egyptian history this autumn.

The Assyrian Conquests of Egypt talk on 8 October will look at the rise of Assyria as a major rival to Egypt and its eventual conquest, looking at its culture and the use of cuneiform, a system of writing used in the ancient Middle East.

Early Explorers in Ancient Egypt on 12 November joins the early explorers to Egypt from ancient times through to the 18th century.

The talks start at 2pm.

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Esme Young

is a judge on

the Great

British Sewing


A dedicated follower of fashion

personal stories, recipes, books and much more …

Esme Young, of BBC‘s Great British Sewing Bee, was the star of U3A Day when she entertained 500 members with an online talk. Here, she tells her story to Joanne Smith

She’s known for her love of bold necklaces, stylish clothes and
neat hairdo as a judge on TV’s Great British Sewing Bee, where amateur sewers take on various challenges,
from making fancy-dress outfits for children out of old swimming gear
to creating glamorous gowns fit for
the red carpet.

But woe betide anyone who attempts to hide wonky stitching (or no stitching at all) from the lady with a lifetime of experience designing and making outfits.

Sewing Bee is up there with similar feelgood shows The Great British Bake Off and The Repair Shop – often amusing, sometimes emotional and always inspiring. The last series, which aired in the summer, featured missing armholes, pockets sewn on backwards and cries of “It’s got a hungry bum”. At one point, Esme is heard whispering to fellow judge Patrick Grant, “It looks a complete mess to me.” Contestant Damien, who made everyone laugh with his sense of humour, managed to reach the quarter finals despite never reading the instructions properly, while the two youngest sewers – Serena, 21, and Rebecca, 24 – made it all the way to the final, alongside Raphael, with their eye-catching outfits and neat stitchwork. Serena lifted the crown, making her the youngest-ever winner of the series.

Esme’s life in fashion has never been about money, she tells me; indeed, she lived in a squat for several years and, at one time, her neighbour was Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, who shared a squat with her brother. Today, Esme still lives in the same social housing flat in London that she has rented from housing association Peabody since being made homeless in
the 1980s.

“It’s never been to do with money, ever – it’s all been to do with creativity,” she says. “I’ve never been able to afford to buy anywhere in London and I squatted for quite a few years. I feel really lucky to have a Peabody flat.”

Even after more than 50 years in the fashion business, Esme says she is still learning. “Everything I do, I learn something from. I have been making and designing for so long, but I am still learning, which I think is very important. It’s been amazing; I have always done what I wanted to do.”

At just 21, Esme and three friends opened their own shop and fashion label, Swanky Modes, in London, where they would make eye-popping, body-hugging outfits with names such as The Slasher, The Padlock Dress and the see-through Plastic Mac (modelled naked). The Amorphous dress, made from black Lycra with pieces cut out from the side, was a popular choice for nightclubbers in the 1980s and is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Esme has also made clothes for film stars in blockbusters such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, Trainspotting and Crocodile Dundee, and is currently a tutor at world-renowned art and design college Central Saint Martins in London. But despite all this experience, she admits she was initially rather nervous about getting the role on Sewing Bee, which came about after a chance meeting at a party with one of the programme’s producers. However, it was three years after that meeting that the producer finally got in touch and invited Esme to audition with 17 other hopefuls.

“To begin with, I thought, ‘Actually this is a bit scary’,” she says. “Then I thought, ‘You know what, you’ve got nothing to lose. You do as well as you can, and
if you get it, you get it and if you don’t,
you don’t’.”

Esme’s love of fashion started young when she was making her own clothes from the age of seven. Born in Bedfordshire, Esme moved around a lot as a child as her father was in the RAF. She was also partially deaf – something that went unnoticed in her early childhood until she was diagnosed with ‘glue ear’ – to which she attributes her creativeness.

“My dad always said I was dreamy,”
she tells me. “I was quite detached and in my own little world, so I made things.
It could be anything – I would make things out of boxes. It was my way of engaging with people because I wasn’t hearing stuff.”

Operations to remove her tonsils and adenoids followed, which restored Esme’s hearing.

Like many girls of her generation, Esme learnt to sew at school. “Nowadays, with computers and the internet, sewing is a way of slowing down,” she says. “It’s great to encourage people to sew because it’s good for your mental health in all sorts of ways. It’s creative, it’s 3D so you are using your hands, you slow down, solve problems, you are being creative and you are not on your computer all the time.”

And she would encourage anyone to take up sewing. “It’s like anything, you have to practise,” she says. “You start with something simple. And there are sewing communities, so you can ask people and learn from each other.”

As a child, Esme loved to draw and so, at 17, she completed a foundation course in art in Cambridge before gaining a place on a graphic design course at Central Saint Martins.

“I wanted to be an illustrator,” she
says. “At the foundation course, quite famous illustrators taught or came from there such as Roger Law and Peter Fluck, who created Spitting Image. It never entered my head that you could do
a fashion course.”

However, while at Central Saint Martins, Esme became good friends with fashion student Willie Walters, helping her with her final collection and even modelling for her. The pair teamed up with designers Judy Dewsbury and Melanie Herberfield to open Swanky Modes in Camden Town, selling the sorts of clothes they wanted to wear: sexy, figure-hugging outfits made from Lycra, leather, old shower curtains and even car upholstery. The women designed the clothes together, making samples that would then be made up in tiny factories to sell wholesale.

Their big break came when they were featured in glossy magazine Nova. “That really made a difference, it put us on the radar,” says Esme. The girls had two collections a year and, in 1980, they decided to move away from the traditional fashion show towards a ground-breaking theatrical show for their Seams like a Dream collection, which featured on BBC2’s Arena programme. Models were joined by amateur actors, singers and artists for the extravaganza.

“In London at that time, all the creative people were a big community,” Esme explains. “You’d have photographers, graphic designers, musicians, artists. We all knew each other, not necessarily very well, and would go to see bands in pubs and to parties. The first time I saw the Sex Pistols was at [artist] Andrew Logan’s warehouse at Butler’s Wharf.

“In those days, it was easy to open shops, they weren’t so expensive. Nowadays, every high street in every city or town has the same shops. But back then, there were a lot of individual shops.

“Also, when you are young you are quite confident, you don’t know the pitfalls. Today, young people could not afford to open a shop in London, it would be hard enough to have a workshop in London.”

The four friends sourced fabric from local shops.

“There was a shop nearby that sold showers, so we used the shower curtain fabric, and a car upholstery shop, so we used car upholstery. We were just looking for what was around, what caught our eye,” she adds.

Swanky Modes’ customers included Julie Christie, while Cher bought one of their dresses in New York, and Grace Jones wore one for a feature in The Sunday Times. Their designs featured in Vogue, Honey and The Face, photographed by the likes of David Bailey.

“They were daring dresses,” says Esme. “We liked body-conscious things. It was about being women – it was for women, what we wanted and how we wanted to look. We were a little gang.”

Living in Camden in the 1970s was an exciting time. As well as the Sex Pistols, Esme also saw The Clash among other bands performing in pubs and basements.

“There were a lot of venues all over London where you could see bands,” she says. “It wasn’t a big deal. The Clash weren’t mega-famous, they were playing in small clubs and pubs.” She recalls pogoing at a Clash gig while wearing leather motorbike trousers and jacket.
“A boy came up to us and said, ‘You’re a bit too old to be a punk’,” says Esme. “We weren’t punks, though.”

After 20 years, Swanky Modes closed in 1993 when the lease came to an end and Esme went to work on films, including making the bunny suit for Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary. “She was lovely,” recalls Esme. “She wanted the outfit tighter and tighter until she could hardly sit down!” Esme also worked on both Trainspotting films, making Dale Winton’s Lurex suit and the nurse’s outfit, which was based on the Swanky Modes dress The Flasher.

In 2000, Esme started working for Central Saint Martins as a pattern-cutter tutor. One of her first pupils was Ashish, later to become fashion designer to the stars, and Esme has worked with him ever since. Ashish has designed clothes for Madonna, Jerry Hall and Katy Perry.

“We have a studio next to each other and I work on his collections,” she says. “He makes lots of clothes for celebrities that I cut the patterns for. Pattern cutters have a big input into the design because you are making things change from flat
to 3D.”

Another celebrity Esme works with is artist Grayson Perry, who every year runs a competition for design students at Central Saint Martins, giving each student £100 towards fabrics and buying the top three designs for £500 each.

So what does the future hold? Is she planning on hanging up her tape measure any time soon? Not likely!

“I don’t have any plans,” she says. “I just want to keep working. I want to travel.
I do a little bit of painting and sketching,
I like cooking. I haven’t got a telly, I haven’t had one since 1975. I’d work quite late, get home and put the telly on and I’d watch a load of old crap, and I thought, ‘I don’t need this’. I do watch a bit on iPlayer – I’m watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
I love it.

When I say that her life in the 60s and 70s sounds wonderful and exciting, she adds: “And the 80s, 90s and 2000s. You never know what is round the corner.”

love productions

Esme dressing up as a

child. Right: Modelling

Willie Walters’ collection at

St Martins. Far right: As a

student wearing a child’s

coat from a jumble sale

It’s never been to do with money, ever - it’s all
been to do with creativity

life story


Outside Swanky Modes

on her motorbike

life story

There was a shop nearby that sold showers, so we used the shower curtain fabric

From left: Mel, Esme, Judy

and Willie wearing their

Seams like a Dream collection

love productions / LANDMARK MEDIA/Alamy Stock Photo / nick harvey/shutterstock

Above: Giving advice on Sewing Bee. Left: Esme and Bette Bright in Swanky Modes dresses. Below: Renée Zellweger in THAT bunny outfit

life story

Esme with

Grayson Perry

“I’d rather prescribe education and stimulation than any medicine”

TV doctor Hilary Jones talks to Joanne Smith about his new novel and the importance of keeping active as we age

A love story set during the First World War and the flu pandemic, Frontline is also in recognition of the selfless efforts of today’s frontline workers, says Dr Hilary Jones.

“It will resonate with much of what is going on today, hence it’s called Frontline. How much have we depended on our frontline workers in the past few months? Totally. They have made sacrifices, some have died, and while we applaud them from afar and say ‘well done’, we don’t really understand what they go through. I am hoping that Frontline will describe in an allegorical way what they actually do.”

Writing a novel served as
a good antidote to real life, says Dr Hilary, who adds that keeping busy with hobbies
and learning new things is the best medicine.

“I’d much rather prescribe education and stimulation than any medicine,” he says. “To keep the mind busy is really important because you produce the happy hormones, the endorphins, just as exercise does. You are more likely to sleep better and have something to talk about with your friends. There’s plenty
to do!”

Frontline begins at the start of the 20th century, when infection was rife and living conditions poor. “I’d always been interested in the Spanish flu and its origins, and what it was, and so when this pandemic came along it mirrored so uncannily closely what happened in 1918,” says Dr Hilary. “Nobody knew where Spanish flu came from, and we are still wondering. There are some clues that it mutated from animals, possibly pigs. When Covid came along, people were again scratching their heads.”

The book has been singled out for praise for its medical detail. Dr Hilary drew on his own medical experience in the characterisations of doctors and what they talk about during operations.

Frontline, by Dr Hilary Jones, is published by Welbeck, priced £12.99.
Out now.


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Publishing dream comes true at 78 for Maggie


  • The Servant is published by Sharpe as a paperback through Amazon and is also available on Kindle


Like many budding authors, Maggie Richell-Davies of Tunbridge Wells U3A has been writing novels for years but would always get the brush-off from literary agents.

Then, at the age of 78, her dream to be published came true when she won the Historical Writers’ Association Unpublished Novel Award with her book, The Servant. The prize was £500 and a publishing contract with Sharpe Books.

The Servant is a thriller based on a visit Maggie made to London’s Foundling Hospital Museum, where women would take their children if they were unable to care for them because of poverty or illegitimacy. It tells the story of a girl from a good background who falls on hard times and ends up working for a disgraced aristocrat in a house full of mysteries.

Maggie originally wrote a short story and entered it in a competition but was told it was too big a subject to be a short story, so she wrote the novel. She sent it to several agents without any luck, so she could hardly believe it when she won the prize.

“You get to the stage when you think you will have to live with not getting published,” she said.

Maggie is now writing another book based on a letter she read at the Museum from a young woman in prison pleading with the hospital to take her baby as she was to
be hanged.

Find out about the U3A's joint project with the Coram charity and The Foundling Hospital on page 41

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History, tech and animals on this Cheshire meander



This is my favourite route because it shows the variety of things to be seen on a Cheshire walk.

Starting the walk from the A50 close to The Whipping Stocks Inn, south of Knutsford, Cheshire, you will first pass a major high-street bank computer centre. The next highlight are some exceptionally large greenhouses in which are grown tomatoes for supermarkets. The keen-eyed walker will notice that the greenhouses do not have a speck of soil in sight since all the crops are produced using hydroponics.

The next part of the walk opens into flat Cheshire countryside before we arrive via a bridle path at Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital. From here, the route meanders via single-track roads and footpaths to a large water tower and then into well-tended estates with the fields occupied by well-fed polo ponies. Leaving the horses behind, we head for Peover Hall and its associated St Lawrence Church. Peover Hall is an Elizabethan mansion which was used by General George Patton as his HQ before the 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy. General Patton is also said to have worshipped at St Lawrence Church. The woods around the Hall and church are peaceful and a good place to relax and imagine Elizabethan gentry moving between the two.

The final part of the walk is across fields to the start point. During this walk of just over five miles, you will have seen high-street banking, soilless tomato-growing, wildlife needing help and pampered horses. To finish, you will have a window into the Elizabethan world and the darker days of 1944.

Contact Terry at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

my favourite walk

Terry Dykes, a U3A Subject Adviser for Walking, takes us through historic countryside

Peover Hall has links

with General Patton

Retro cooking

Revisit the nostalgic
recipes that really stand
the test of time

The Swinging Sixties were about flower power and love, with Beatlemania and the Rolling Stones thrown in! This decade saw the assassinations of President John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, ending with the two American astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landing on the moon for the first time in July 1969.

By contrast, the 70s was a decade well remembered for the trade unionist Arthur Scargill and the miners strikes. Suddenly our homes were plunged into darkness by lengthy power cuts.

In our kitchens, French cuisine, alongside global awareness and healthy eating, started to become fashionable. I recall attending dinner parties where cheese fondue was often served. We sat around a pot that was rubbed with garlic and suspended over a little heater, in which wine and grated Swiss or French cheese melted to gooey perfection.

Guests used fondue forks to spear chunks of French bread, dipping it into the tasty cauldron. Baby white cocktail onions and tiny gherkins accompanied the fondue.

Boeuf Bourgignon, with creamy mash, was another favourite as well as whole poached salmon decorated with sliced-cucumber ‘fins’. Perhaps you recall grapefruit sputniks studded with cheese and pineapple on sticks?

I hope you enjoy making these nostalgic recipes. And why not send me a photo or two of your trip down memory lane?

food by beverley jarvis



Easy cheese straws

Makes approx 15 cheese straws

These delicious cheese straws are really easy to make in the food processor. To ring the changes, before baking brush with a little milk and sprinkle with mixed seeds.

100g self-raising flour

100g chilled butter, cubed

75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

25g Parmesan cheese, grated

Pinch cayenne pepper

½ tsp dried mustard powder

1 Pre-heat oven to 210°C, 190°C fan, gas 6.

2 Put all the ingredients into a food processor fitted with the
metal blade.

3 Process to form a soft dough. The machine will finely chop the ingredients first, then go on to turn them into a soft ball of dough.

4 Transfer dough to a floured worktop and roll out using a floured rolling pin to a rectangle about 28cm x 12cm.

5 Cut into straws using a sharp knife.

6 Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Space the biscuits out as they spread a little.

7 Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and smelling amazing!

8 Cool on baking sheet.


classic stock/alamy stock photo

beverley jarvis is a home economist and cookery writer. find more of her recipes at

Boeuf Bourguignon made easy

Serves 4

My family love this slow-cooked recipe of chuck steak braised with bacon, onions and red wine. I like to serve it with creamy mashed potato, carrots and broccoli.

3 tbsp olive oil

900g good-quality braising steak, cut into 5cm pieces

2 red onions, sliced

75g bacon lardons

2 fat cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp flour

Salt and pepper

425ml red wine

100ml beef stock

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs thyme

1 Pre-heat oven to 150°C, 130°C fan, gas 2.

2 Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large flameproof casserole until very hot. Add ⅓ of the cubes of beef and quickly brown them on all sides.Transfer to a dinner plate using a draining spoon.

3 Repeat step 2 until all the beef has been browned. Add the remaining oil to the pan and, when hot, add the onions and bacon. Stir-fry for about 5 min, until the bacon starts to crisp and the onions soften. Add garlic and stir-fry for a further minute.

4 Stir in the flour gradually then add a seasoning of salt and pepper. Gradually stir in the wine and stock. Add the browned meat with the bay leaves and thyme. Stirring continuously, bring to the boil. Cover with a lid.

5 Transfer to oven and cook for 2 hours, until meat is meltingly tender. Remove herbs. Serve.

Pineapple upside-down pudding

Serves 8-10

A real retro pudding, this hot dessert seems to be a undergoing a revival, as
I notice variations such as ginger or chocolate appearing on restaurant menus and recipes in magazines.

Many recipes include making a sugar syrup to pour over the baked dessert.
I think pineapple juice is just as good and a little better for you!

You will need

1x 20cm loose-bottomed square cake tin, base lined with baking parchment

For the Topping

40g soft light or dark brown sugar

40g butter

1 x 435g can pineapple rings in fruit juice, drained well, reserving juice

For the cake

175g softened butter, plus extra for greasing

175g golden caster sugar

3 large eggs

Few drops almond essence, optional

2 tbsp milk

135g self-raising flour

40 ground almonds

To Serve

1x 200ml carton pineapple juice, plus reserved juice from the can, combined; a few toasted flaked almonds (optional but nice), vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche

1 Preheat oven to 190°C, 170°C fan, gas 5. Grease and line the cake tin.

2 Prepare the topping. Melt the sugar and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, stirring to melt the sugar. Increase temperature a little, then fry pineapple rings for 2 mins on one side, until golden. Remove from heat and arrange pineapple in the prepared tin, golden side down. Pour over caramel from frying pan.

3 Prepare the cake mixture. In a large mixing bowl, combine the soft butter with the sugar, eggs, almond essence (if using), milk, flour and the ground almonds. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat ingredients together until light and creamy. Continue to beat for 1 minute. Don’t worry if the mixture curdles.

4 Spoon mixture over pineapple and level the surface using a table knife or spoon.

5 Stand cake tin on a baking sheet, to catch any drips of caramel. Bake for 35- 40 mins until well risen and golden. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

6 Leave cake to stand in tin for 3-4 minutes, then turn out onto a large platter. Sprinkle with flaked almonds, if using.

7 Serve, in small slices, with the pineapple juice, hot or cold, poured over, and some vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.



Have you tried making Beverley's
recipes? Send your photos to We'd love
to hear from you.

Celebrity contestants for BBC show Strictly Come Dancing come in all shapes and sizes, so how do the designers and dressmakers make them feel on top of the world when they step out onto the stage before millions of viewers?

Like the viewers, the team at Dancesport International (DSI) are kept in the dark about who the contestants are until shortly before the show starts, with only the designer, Vicky Gill, being allowed a sneak preview. So they begin making the outfits on dummies with just the measurements to go on, says Carole Williams, who conducts tours of the company for the public.

As the show progresses, the contestants change shape through all the dancing, so the dummies have to change shape too.

“We work on tailor dummies but they are only a certain size, so we pad them out with bubble wrap to the size of the contestant,” explains Carole. “As the contestants tone up or lose weight, we unravel the bubble wrap every week so that dummy mirrors the person on the show and so we know what shape we are working to.”

The contestants can’t choose what they wear, so it’s down to Vicky to make sure they feel comfortable. She meets the contestants individually with a selection of different dresses and chooses the style that suits them best, and that style is then used for the rest of the show for them.

“We are very mindful as to what they feel comfortable in,” says Carole. “For example, if an older lady doesn’t want her upper arms or back showing, we have ways of camouflaging that, so we would never expect anyone to go out on stage feeling uncomfortable. But generally speaking, they have to have what they are given.”

DSI was founded by Peggy Spencer MBE and Geoffrey Hearn in 1982. They opened a dance school in Penge, south-east London, which was the forerunner of the popular BBC programme Come Dancing. DSI also makes outfits for West End shows, dancers on cruise ships and professional dancers.

All the dresses are hired by the BBC and available to anyone to buy or rent after the show through the company’s website.

Maris Sharp, of Colchester U3A, said: “I have never watched Strictly but I was captivated by the excellent tour that Carole took us on and the secrets of a successful costume.

“The finished sewn dresses do not look very special – the oomph factor is supplied by Ash, the main embellisher. He gets his tube of specially formulated glue and draws patterns onto the fabric with it and then, painstakingly from a tin lid, each rhinestone is picked up by a pencil with beeswax at the end and applied to the line of glue. The end result is the shimmering, colourful costume that you see on the show.

“Any last-minute alterations are done in the Strictly studios at the BBC where contestants can be sewn into their costume as they run up the stairs towards their appearance. Nail-biting stuff!”

DSI conducts tours of its workshop. For group bookings, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Costumes on the rail.

Right: Carole Williams

talks to U3A members

on Zoom

Give us a twirl!

As Strictly Come Dancing returns to our screens, Trust U3A Fashion (Hybrid) members were given a peek behind the scenes at the company that makes the dazzling dresses

Ashraf Hydrose

adds the final




Keeping up with the
fashions in scammers

You have to keep your wits about you these days to avoid being duped, says Dame Esther Rantzen, who is wondering whether she has come across a new scam in olive trees ...

A few weeks ago, a large lorry arrived outside my house and a man in jeans rang the doorbell and said: “Your neighbour says you like olive trees.” Well, who doesn’t love these glorious trees with their silver leaves redolent of sunshine Mediterranean holidays? He opened the back of the lorry to reveal half a dozen gnarled trees and explained that he’d just finished exhibiting garden furniture at a show, and these trees were left over, so he could do a ‘special price’ for me to get rid of them. He said he’d paid £20,000 to bring them into the country, so when
I offered a measly couple of thousand for the lot, he drove away at speed without a deal.

Last week, I went to see my daughter 60 miles away.

“A man drove into my drive yesterday with a lorry filled with olive trees,” she told me – a different man with the same story and the same offer of a ‘special price’ to get rid of them. Like me, she decided her idea of a special price was not his, so he drove away. So was this coincidence? Or is
a new olive tree scam
taking root?

There are fashions in scams, so it’s important that we warn each other of any new ones. Some current scams target us via digital technology. Today, my mobile phone pinged with a message: ‘Post office: Your Package Has A £2.99 Unpaid Shipping Fee. To Pay This Please Visit …’ and there was an internet address to click on, otherwise my ‘Package’ would be returned. I was taught in my grammar classes only to use capital letters for proper nouns, so I ignored it. Shame this scammer hadn’t paid enough attention in his English classes.

Conmen are completely unscrupulous. I once investigated fake lottery wins that tried to persuade victims to buy rubbish from
a catalogue to collect a huge prize. One elderly lady with dementia had been put on a ‘suckers list’ which conmen use to pass their customers’ names to each other, so she was inundated with these cons and spent most of her precious savings on them.

Another shocking scam right now is an advertisement on the internet selling ‘UK Esther Rantzen CBD Gummies’. It has absolutely nothing to do with me – I had no idea ‘CBD Gummies’ were sweets containing cannabis oil until complaints began to reach me. The ad claims they cure everything from chronic pain and insomnia to constipation. So it’s aimed at vulnerable people and it costs them a fortune. But try as
I will, and I have, I can’t get the ad banned.

So if you do suffer from chronic pain, I am certainly not recommending CBD Gummies, and if you long to be holidaying on the Mediterranean, no matter how tempting the ‘special price’ offered by a man with a lorry, buy your olive tree from a garden centre near you.

We used to have a saying on That’s Life – if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.

Disappointing, but sensible.

I was taught in my grammar classes only to use capital letters for proper nouns, so
I ignored the message. Shame this scammer hadn’t paid enough attention in his English classes

esther rantzen

peter alvey


I would like to thank you for electing me as the new Chair of the Third Age Trust at the AGM in August, and for your support in trusting me with this responsibility, especially at what is an exciting and challenging time as the rules surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic change yet again.

As I take up my new role,
I am conscious that Ian McCannah is a hard act to follow – thank you Ian for all you have contributed to the Third Age movement. I am sure we haven’t seen the last of you, but I do hope you are enjoying having more time to pursue your other interests.

At the beginning of 2020, the world as we knew it changed as a virus came to dominate our lives. Although we have experienced lockdown, learned to wear masks and to socialise onscreen, U3A members have also demonstrated their resilience and willingness to do things differently by celebrating U3A Day, taking up new hobbies and using our creativity in myriad different ways. While some joined the queues for toilet rolls and bemoaned the lack of supermarket delivery slots, our thoughts are with those who have faced real tragedy.

As we move into autumn, there is a sense the world is slowly opening again. We know more about the virus and vaccination has given us a sense of security.

Restrictions have been lifted and U3A members can meet in person again and enjoy the social contact a computer screen cannot replicate. But things are not quite the same as some of our members are not yet confident to leave the safety of their homes and meet up in crowded rooms. Some prefer to view presentations on a screen as that way they can hear and see better, and some find it physically difficult to do things they could a year ago.

Just as we have found innovative ways of including U3A members outside the ‘tech bubble’ in activities, perhaps we now need to consider how to continue to include those unable to get out and about. I recently attended a meeting of the Canadian Later Life Learning network where several people talked about ‘going hybrid’ in the winter, when many were often reluctant to go out due to severe weather. UK winters may be less challenging, but we can sometimes use what we have learned in the past months in continuing our activities.

As Chair, my role is not only concerned with the challenges we face locally, but also with the wider agenda of the Third Age Movement. I know U3A members can feel they know little about the Trust and its decisions, and part of my job is to encourage information sharing and transparency.

In 2019, we did not know what lay ahead, and we still don’t. But we do know U3A members will rise to a challenge, learn new skills and find ways of enjoying life whatever surprises it throws at us. I look forward to the journey ahead and I hope we enjoy travelling together into our new normal.

U3A will rise to the challenges of whatever lies ahead

Just as we have found innovative ways of including U3A members outside the ‘tech bubble’ in activities, perhaps we now need to consider how
to continue to include those unable to get
out and about

Liz thackray: view from the chair

Back to Contents


Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy Stock Photo

What did we do with ‘yoofs’ of the 1880s?

It was in the 1880s when
the phenomenon of ‘adolescence’ was first recognised. It was partly demographic. A swiftly rising population was self-evidently unbalanced. In the mid-19th century, the mean age of the population was just over 26 (it is now over 40); almost half the population was under 20, with only a quarter over 45.

Technological changes in the economy made for a less straightforward morphing from child to adult. There was an uneasy hiatus between school and work, with thousands of young people at something of a loss. It might be said that the adolescent found him or herself in a kind of no man’s or no woman’s land. But society was faced with a mass problem rather than an isolated one; youth in high numbers were not so easily dealt with as in scattered ones and twos in a much smaller population of previous generations. A mass answer, an organisational answer, was demanded.

It came with the notion of the disciplined youth agency. In 1883, in a mission hall in north-west Glasgow, William Alexander Smith established the Boys’ Brigade. It was the world’s first voluntary, uniformed organisation for boys. By 1910, it had 100,000 members and 10,000 officers in its 2,200 companies. Its aim was to combine Christian values with healthy, cheerful activities. There were similar bodies, including the Boys’ Life Brigade and the Church Lads’ Brigade – CLB or Cheeky Little Buggers in the vernacular. There were equivalent organisations for girls. The enormously successful Boy Scout movement in the 1900s, something of an offshoot of the Boys’ Brigade, certainly reflected the general anxiety about youthful lack of martial vigour. It is estimated that a third of boys born in the UK in the first 20 years of the 20th century became boy scouts. Wartime also brought the chance to join the Army, Sea or Air cadets.

A pragmatic aspect of all these quite militant agencies was their reliance on church halls. While scout huts were also built, there was a heavy dependence on religious connections. Churches also played a major part in the second wave of youth organisations, the less formal mufti-clad mixed youth clubs that were established in the 1930s and 1940s. Before that, deprived areas had seen more paternalistic efforts to socialise youth, primarily in all-boys’ clubs.

I wonder whether, like me, there are those who won their spurs or sowed their wild oats (whichever is applicable) in a church-based youth club. I spent many happy Monday nights in a Congregational church hall, where there were talks and debates as well as the statutory table tennis and periodic ‘socials’, with light refreshments and callow experiments in ballroom dancing. I played my first formal football for that youth club team – but there was another bonus. A very close friend and tireless member of the club has written this of me: ‘His eyes lit up when he saw the church hall had a proper stage with curtains.’

He was right. From about 14, encouraged by my father, I organised revues and concerts. After Army service, I reassembled ten of those youthful performers and ran an amateur concert party for eight years, the foundation for an engagement with cabaret, pantomime and light entertainment that has been life-long, including an element of study and publication. Apart from the enjoyment, it helped give me the confidence to negotiate a career that has involved substantive public presentation.

That youth club was very much part of my education.

eric midwinter: u3a founder

Church Lads Brigade ...
CLB or Cheeky Little Buggers in the vernacular

Lord Robert Baden-

Powell inspecting

boy scouts, circa 1920

Wellcome library, london

Tracing the lives of abandoned babies

A new U3A Shared Learning Project will see members research stories of children
left in the care of London’s Foundling Hospital by their
impoverished mothers

It’s 1783. Elizabeth Sharp, under promise of marriage by her suitor, has given birth to a baby daughter who is now two months old. Sadly, her fiancé has died and Elizabeth is now penniless with no hope of supporting her child.

In desperation, she writes to the Foundling Hospital in the hope they will take in her baby. The ‘Humble petition of Elizabeth Sharp’ to the Worthy Governors and Guardians of the Foundling Hospital reads: “Her circumstances are so impaired that she is totally incapable of procuring proper conveniences for her situation and her fatherless offspring in imminent danger of perishing unless relieved by your benevolent institution.”

Elizabeth is supported by a Mrs Attwood, of Back Hill, Hatton Garden, who says the petitioner has lodged at her house for six months and has “behaved well and is in distress”.

It is not known if Elizabeth was successful in her petition but a total of around 25,000 children were saved by the Foundling Hospital, which was run by the Coram Charity and named after its founder, Thomas Coram. Coram is the oldest children’s charity in the UK.

In London in the 18th century, babies of unmarried mothers or very poor parents were often abandoned or left to die.

Philanthropist Thomas Coram was shocked at the sight of these children on the streets. In 1739, he was granted permission to establish the Foundling Hospital, where children whose mothers could not look after them would be cared for and trained for employment. The word hospital originated from the Latin ‘hospes’, which meant guest or visitor, and was used to indicate the hospitality of looking after the children. It took in its first children two years later.

After admission, children would be baptised and given a new name to protect the identity of the mother. Babies would live with foster families outside London and return to the Hospital when they were five. Many would be trained for domestic or military service.

Staff at the Hospital kept meticulous records from the 1700s to the present day, which include letters from mothers seeking admission for their child and the tokens they left in the hope that they may in future be reunited. These tokens were often pieces of fabric from their clothing to identify the child.

The records, which also include entrance registers, medical records, nursery books and minutes of decisions made, amount to more than 800 linear feet of shelving and an estimated eight tons of paper.

The project

‘Voices Through Time: The Story of Care’ is a four-year programme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund that will reveal untold stories about the lives of children at the Foundling Hospital.

The archive of records from Coram’s Foundling Hospital is held at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). Much of it is in a fragile condition, which means it’s not easy for people to access them. The programme aims to digitise 25 per cent of the historic archive, approximately 112,000 pages of records.

The records will be scanned by staff and volunteers will then transcribe them to ensure the charity has a readable text alongside the images of the original records.

Once digitised and transcribed, these records will be made available on a dedicated website for anyone to use.

Get involved

U3A is collaborating with the Coram Charity to offer a special project exploring this fascinating history.

Coram’s comprehensive archive means it’s possible to trace the journey of a child from their admission to the Hospital until they left. Combining them with other public records such as birth, marriage, death, Census and Electoral Register records, it is possible to uncover the stories of the children, staff and mothers.

This autumn, U3A members will transcribe a unique set of scanned records from the archive, which they will then use to carry out further research. There is no need to travel to London for this project. A feast of information for those who love history, the project will start with letters penned by mothers who sought to place their babies in the Hospital’s care.

To enrol, sign up using the online form at The deadline is 8 October. For more details or enquiries, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • More details about the Foundling Hospital and the Voices Through Time project are available at

for more inspiring stories, visit

a yearn to learn. in each issue, we showcase learning
projects and subjects to inspire and educate

From left: An engraving

of the Foundling Hospital

in 1827; Elizabeth Sharp’s

letter; baking lessons at

the Hospital

Back to Contents



P41 The Coram project

P45 U3A chess league; new Subject Adviser for Film

P47 Countdown to COP

P48 U3A Subject Advisers’ contact details

P51 U3A radio podcast’s first anniversary


Wellcome library, london

John’s story

John Bowles was one of the first
30 children admitted to the Foundling Hospital on 25 March, 1741, although he was known only
as child number five.

About a month old, he was dressed in a cloak marked with the letters ‘I’ and ‘A’, which would have been used to identify him if his mother should reclaim him.

Of the 30 children, only John and five others survived until old enough to be apprenticed. He was fostered with a family in Yorkshire before returning to the Hospital in 1746. At age six, he would have been expected to work outside, such as digging or pumping water, to prepare him for his future life.

Food at the Hospital was meagre, consisting of porridge for breakfast, meat and potatoes for dinner and bread, sometimes with cheese, for supper.

On Charter Day, 17 October, the children were given a day off work and roast beef and plum pudding.

At age ten, John was apprenticed to Stephen Beckingham, one of the Hospital’s governors, most likely to work in the house or grounds. His master died four years later and it is not known what happened to John. He may have stayed on at the property, which was inherited by his master’s son who was also a governor of the Hospital.

While John’s life at the Hospital was quite harsh, he did well compared with children who lived on the streets or ended up in workhouses.

Babies of very poor parents were often left to die

A token left

behind by

a mother

Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

We have shown in the past few years that a chess club can be sociable, interactive and co-operative


Check out new chess league

Lights, camera - U3A goes to the flicks

Sales of chess sets soared in the wake of Netflix drama The Queen's Gambit. Now you can see what the fuss is about with a new U3A network and league

The network aims to promote the study and playing of chess in the U3A at a local level and nationally online.

“Chess, unlike bridge, has never flourished in U3A – probably because it has the reputation of being a difficult, aggressive, complex game, played in silence,” says chess Subject Adviser David Castle.

“On the contrary, the rules are straightforward and easy to grasp and, after a short while, interesting,
thought-provoking games can be played. Also, we have shown in the past few years that a chess club can be sociable, interactive and co-operative, where the intention is to explore the theory and play well but also to enjoy playing the game and meeting other people.

“There is little doubt that playing a game like chess improves concentration, memory, decision-making and spatial comprehension, so a real advantage for all of
us in U3A.”

The objectives of the new U3A chess network will be to encourage new chess groups, to collect and make available information relevant to U3A chess groups, and to encourage online chess groups and leagues.

  • To join the U3A Chess Network and sign up for
    the league, go to

Claire Salisbury, of Belper U3A and Nottingham U3A, is the new U3A Subject Adviser for Film.

Claire has a background in languages, libraries, the public sector and customer service. She has lived in London, France and Australia.

She enjoys learning – mostly via films and Spanish courses.
“I love film, it has been important to me my whole life, from my first Disney film through student film societies to multiplexes, independent cinemas and today’s streaming services,” she says. ”I’m also aware of how much film expertise is out there among many U3A members! I hope my role will be supporting, facilitating, kindling a spark, finding out information for people, and hopefully providing whatever members and groups need. For me, film at U3A – however interest groups approach it – is social and brings people together.”

Claire’s film tip: The Life Ahead

Sophia Loren stars in this very different look at modern-day Italy. She is Madame Rosa, an older foster carer, battered by life but with deep compassion for the lost and wayward children who come her way.

Also burning bright is the young actor Ibrahima Gueye as Momo, a boy whose life teeters between crime and brilliance. Listen out, too, for the beautiful song played over the end credits.

The Life Ahead is on Netflix now.

  • You can contact Claire on her U3A Film Subject Advice page at under learn/subjectadvice tabs


Claire Salisbury

New Subject Adviser for Film

Netflix drama The Queen's

Gambit was watched by

62 million people


million people

wayne hutchinson/alamy stock photo



Steps we can take to save the planet

The full article can be read on

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties takes place in the UK in November. Here, the U3A Countdown to COP group debates the pressing issues. Compiled by group leaders Eleanor Brooks and Brenda Ainsley

Eat less meat!

As agriculture has a high carbon footprint, members discussed whether meat should be considered a luxury.

Peter Holmes, of Helensburgh & District U3A, said farmers should be supported but meat consumption should be reduced by around 20 per cent, while Idris Hughes, of Pershore & District U3A, suggested meat should be rationed. Clive Teague, of Odiham District U3A, argued that people should avoid eating beef and lamb as livestock are significant methane producers.

Some members wanted to see a ban on importing animal products from countries with lower welfare standards and a ban on exporting live animals.

Consumption of local foods should be encouraged. Catherine Budgett-Meakin, of Hampstead Garden Suburb U3A, said: “Encourage a ‘flexitarian’ diet, more organic farming and regenerative agriculture. Encourage seasonal and local eating. Ban food products flown in. Reduce food waste massively. Encourage composting and food waste collection by councils. Phase out pesticides and fertilisers.”

David Dundas, of Lichfield U3A, felt stopping the use of fossil fuels was more important in the climate debate than animal husbandry. “Healthy food and good animal husbandry are important issues but not in the climate debate, which is about burning fossil fuels, not biomethane given off by farming,” he argued.

Heating our homes

There was concern that not enough action is being taken to tackle carbon emissions from domestic heating, which amount to around 15 per cent of UK carbon emissions. But what are the alternatives?

Catherine Budgett-Meakin had hoped to replace her gas boiler with an air source heat pump but said the technology was not quite ready. Alan Briggs, of Camberley & District U3A, said there was a lack of Government commitment to heat pumps, with too few trained installers and high costs.

Dump the car

The transport industry is responsible for around 27 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gases. Reducing the need for travel was a first step, with future homes built close to workplaces, and encouraging working-from-home initiatives, car sharing and cycle hire.

Public transport needs to be frequent and cheap to entice people away from their cars, said Frances Halliday, Subject Adviser for Climate Change.

Joe Grimm, of Edinburgh U3A, argued that road-building plans needed to be cut back and diesel taxis removed from the roads. “They are spewing pollution,” he said. “The Government must launch a ‘no stationary idling’ campaign.”

Several members are interested in, or already have, an electric vehicle but Peter Holmes said: “The use of electric cars must be made more attractive with lowering of costs and improvements in range.” This is in addition to rapidly increasing the electricity supply to our country through sustainable means.

Joe Grimm called on the Government to stop subsidising air travel and use the money instead to improve and reduce the cost of rail travel. Idris Hughes suggested air miles should be rationed per person while increasing taxes on petrol and other high carbon fuels.


The U3A Countdown to COP group would like to see an urgent government strategy to install green infrastructure including safe, usable cycle routes and charging points for electric vehicles, with green developments joined up across all departments.

They would also like to see grants and subsidies directed away from fossil fuels and into green technologies.

They would support sustainable, organic farming, encourage more home cooking from raw ingredients and help the nation see meat as a luxury, to be enjoyed sparingly.

subject advisers

Are you looking for support to set up or run a group? The u3a has around 80 Subject Advisers who can help you. Each Subject Adviser also has a page packed with useful information AT under the ‘Learning’ tab


BOOK GROUPS Richard Peoples This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01313375914

Classic Rock and Roll Martin Hellawell
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07914 847722

COMEDY & HUMOUR Geoff Futcher This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contemporary Art David Byrne
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FILM Claire Salisbury

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

JAZZ APPRECIATION Michael Rance This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01252 616937

OPERA Colin Davison This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

POETRY Ray Solly
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01303 250144

SHAKESPEARE Ray Waterhouse This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07808 928826


CRAFTS Kelly Benton
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01824 702624

CREATIVE WRITING Marcia Humphries This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PAINTING AND DRAWING TECHNIQUES Gail Lea This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01304 206892

PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Read This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01722 501218

PLAY READING Ann Anderson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01539 533696

STAGE PRODUCTION Andrew Ings This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01376 322884

Story Telling Stella Porter This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY Maria Chester This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01890 781500

ARCHAEOLOGY Marilyn Palmer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0116 231 4657

BRITISH HISTORY Ian McCannah This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01707 870142

Egyptology Neil Stevenson
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

GENEALOGY Stephen Dyer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07557 134343

GERMAN HISTORY Michael Austin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07792 892578

LIVING HISTORY Jo Livingston jo_This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01322 440539

MILITARY HISTORY Mike Fox This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01737 350452


CLASSICAL GREEK Steve Addis This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01570 434691

ETYMOLOGY Mario Molinari This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FRENCH Sylvia Duffy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01584 872807

GERMAN Alastair Sharp This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01903 856397

LATIN Trevor Davies This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01925 261030

modern LANGUAGES - focus on italian Heather Westrup This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01923 283577

Portuguese Geoffrey Phoenix
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RUSSIAN Chris Rock This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07714 309882

WELSH Gareth Williams This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01443 451517


Amateur Radio Mike Meadows
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

AVIATION Clynt Perrott This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01793 695149

BALLROOM DANCING Gill & Greg Greenhalgh This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01900 267051

Birdwatching Mary Gibbons This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bridge Jack Rouse This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07930 983214

Canasta & Bolivia Margaret Thompson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07798 736909

Chess Rob Kruszynski and David Castle This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and

Cryptic crosswords Henry Howarth This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01202 760478

Cycling – social Les Jarman This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01730 261349

English folk dance Ann Taylor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0151 327 4667

FASHION Ruth Lancashire This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MAGIC Mac McKechnie This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mah jong Hilvary Robinson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01590 672825

Metal detecting Sue Fletcher This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07725 404515

PHILATELY Jeff Armstrong This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 018907 81400

Quizzes AND MURDER MYSTERIES Chris Wright This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ukulele Kenneth Cockburn 01925 764571 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wine appreciation John Scottow This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Research Rodney Buckland This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01732 820031

Shared learning projects Maggy Simms This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Astronomy Martin Whillock FRAS This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01347 821849

Climate change Frances Halliday This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 020 8886 3773

Geology – earth science Ros & Ian Mercer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01245 441201

GeoGRAPHY Jeff Armstrong This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 018907 81400

Maths and stats David Martin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0115 877 6488

Natural History Timothy Williams This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

psychology Jane Bellworthy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07974406959

Science Mike Hollingsworth This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0161 439 2865

Sociology Lora White This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01271 870171


Boating Nick Hoskins This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CROQUET Sally Slater This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Crown green bowling Andy Cowan This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01543 274966

PICKLEBALL David Pechey This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07785958940

Petanque Andrew Lloyd This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01666 861037

Racketball Terry Wassall This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01274 617963

TABLE TENNIS Tony Shapps This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tennis Charles Jeans 01765640553

walking & Walking Sports

walking Terry Dykes, Kevin Millard and Bernard Owen This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07816674356

Walking cricket Mac McKechnie This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Walking Football Edward Hagger
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Walking Rugby Graham Truluck
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Current affairs Bill Garvey This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 020 8868 5030

Exploring world faiths Peter Rookes This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0121 477 2282

Philosophy Shri Sharma This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0121 711 4568

Theology Keith Anderson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Health matters Richard Franklin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07968802173

Learning to be Retired Carol Ellis This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 020 8462 4849

Mindfulness and meditation Nancy Taylor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07847 547125

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Yoga Peter Burton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07885 907662

Members mark a year of U3A podcasts

U3A Radio Podcast is a year old this September. Here, we look at those behind the scenes who make it all happen ...

If you have a story for the podcast, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Achieving a lifelong ambition to go to Glastonbury Festival and swimming with seals are just two of the members’ stories that U3A Radio Podcast has covered during its first year.

Edited and narrated by the former voice of Classic FM, Nick Bailey, of Looe & District U3A, the podcast team have interviewed members on a whole range of topics.

As well as Nick, the team includes Ela Watts as producer and Peter Clift as the roving reporter. Since they started,
they have been joined by two more interviewers – Jo Watson and Val Dawson.

The podcast is hosted on the U3A’s YouTube channel, and you can share the link with friends and family. You’ll find it at the bottom of the U3A website page, at

Here's more about the team behind the broadcasts

Nick Bailey

Editor and narrator

Nick was the first voice of Classic FM when it launched in 1992. The son of actor Robin Bailey, he made his broadcasting debut as a newsreader on the original pirate radio station, Radio Caroline, as portrayed in the film The Boat that Rocked.

Nick presents Classic Choice for British Airways and recently published his memoir, Across the Waves - From Radio Caroline to Classic FM.

Peter Clift


An interest in radio stemmed from listening to the pirate stations in the mid-60s, and after ‘dabbling’ in youth theatre, Peter worked as a freelancer on a BBC local radio station.

University and a different career path meant only occasional local radio work and some voiceover jobs to keep his hand in. Retirement allowed more time for Peter, who is chair of Witney U3A, to get back into radio.

Ela Watts

Interviewer and producer

Ela, of Grantham U3A, had a career in finance and is a presenter and producer for Grantham’s local community radio station, 97.2 Gravity FM.

Ela’s passion is singing with In-Voice, Rock Choir, Grantham Singers and the Grantham U3A Singing Group. Ela has performed in choirs for G4, Sam Bailey, the Rock Choir Christmas single for 2020, MJH Productions’ Jesus Christ Superstar, and Sam Bailey’s music video Sing My Heart Out.

Working with the U3A radio podcast team has helped Ela through lockdown and the other team members have brought Ela new skills to build on in the future.

Jo Watson


Jo, of Farnham U3A in Surrey, worked for BBC Radio Sport for 30 years, covering major international sporting and national events including Royal weddings and funerals. Still keenly involved in watching sport and volunteering with a local cricket club, her other hobbies are singing, playing in a saxophone band and enjoying numerous U3A classes.

Val Dawson


As a child, Val, of Knutsford & District U3A, wanted to be a newsreader. It didn’t happen but hospital radio in Liverpool was a useful substitute. Occasional contributions to radio programmes, live and recorded, and a freelance course over the years, have kept the ambition alive. She still wants to read the news…

Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

The birth of the modern computer can be linked to many historical events: the invention of the Charles Babbage Difference Machines, 1820; mathematician Countess Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, for her foresight into programming machines, and the 1936 paper written by Alan Turing on computable numbers, which is claimed to be the foundation of every computer device in use today.

However, the very first electronic digital computer had nothing to do with the above. It was the work of a humble, but brilliant, telephone engineer called Tommy Flowers, who was working with the GPO experimental telephone exchange at Dollis Hill in north London. The machine he designed became known as Colossus owing to its size. The Mark I incorporated 1,500 thermionic radio valves and was used in February 1944 at Bletchley Park to break extremely high-grade intelligence from the Nazi High Command to Hitler’s generals on the battlefield.

The Colossus machines were so successful that ten were built. The Mark II, containing 2,500 radio valves, were up and working just before D-Day in June 1944. Ahh! Breaking Enigma codes,
I hear you say? Alas, no! The Enigma machine was used by most of the German military during World War II and was deemed impossible to break. The
code-breakers at Bletchley Park did break the Enigma codes, but not as often as you may think.

One of the problems was serious underfunding. It was so bad that the code-breakers wrote to Prime Minister Winston Churchill just weeks after he visited Bletchley Park. Churchill was so livid to learn that his ‘Golden Geese’, as he called them, were so underfunded that he headed his memo to his Chief of Staff ‘ACTION THIS DAY’ and demanded the issue be solved with extreme priority.

So if the Enigma was so secure, why did Germany devise a machine that turned out to be a million times more secure? The machine in question was the Lorenz SZ40, known as a cypher attachment as the machine was linked to the Lorenz teleprinter. Rather than typing one letter at a time, as with the Enigma machine, and then sending the message by radio Morse code, the message could be typed on a standard keyboard, automatically encrypted and sent by high-speed radio teleprinter. This system was used by the Nazi High Command to send battle plans and high-grade intelligence directly from Hitler to his generals.

Wireless intercept stations (Y Stations) all over Britain received the coded enemy Morse signals which were then passed to Bletchley Park. The Metropolitan Police Y Station at Denmark Hill in south London was listening out for clandestine spy radio transmissions.

In late 1940, they were hearing what they called a ‘new music’ or non-Morse traffic, which was identified as foreign radio teleprinter signals. The wave form o
f these signals was printed onto paper tape, which could be identified as letters
and laboriously punched onto teleprinter tape.

These signals were not compatible with British teleprinters. The tapes were sent by dispatch riders to Bletchley Park, where a department had been established to investigate these new electronic communications, but to little or no avail as the department was almost shut down as it tied up too many brilliant people who were redeployed to other departments.

Then, on 30 August 1941, an urgent message was received at Bletchley Park from Denmark Hill Y Station to tell of extremely important documents that would be arriving within the hour by dispatch rider. It turned out to be a double sending of a Lorenz message of 4,000 characters in length.

This was gold dust for the code-breakers as these messages appeared to have the identical wheel settings of the Lorenz machine. You need to bear in mind that Bletchley Park never knew what Lorenz was or looked like. The top code-breaker, Brigadier John Tiltman, matched the two tapes and teased out the message within 10 days. The tapes were then sent to the research department at Bletchley Park to be analysed.

Bill Tutte, a brilliant chemist and mathematician, took two months to work out the complete internal structure of the Lorenz machine, establishing that it had 12 wheels. As no one knew the name of this machine, the code-breakers called it ‘Tunny’. All non-Morse traffic was given the name of ‘fish’.

We could break Tunny but it was taking up to six weeks which, in many cases, resulted in the message being out of date. The whole operation was a gigantic counting job. Alan Turing did help by developing a procedure that became known as a ‘Turingismus’ but this was not until Prof Max Newman, a mathematics lecturer from King’s College, Cambridge, now at Bletchley Park, convinced senior management to set up a new department to mechanise the Tunny operation.

Newman had contacts at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, and they were experimenting with radio valves as counters. Also, with the help of Charles Wynn-Williams at the Telecommunications Research Establishment in Malvern, Worcestershire, and Frank Morrell at Dollis Hill GPO, they developed a machine called the Heath Robinson, as it looked like a Heath Robinson cartoon of machines that could not possibly work. The Heath Robinson machine had its issues – tapes breaking at high speed and resistors overheating. But it did work and sped up the operation from six weeks to two weeks.

The Heath Robinson established the position of the Lorenz rotor wheels, enabling it to run the tape through our version of Lorenz, called the ‘Tunny Machine’. One of the noted success stories of the Heath Robinson was the decryption of Hitler’s final push into Russia, Operation ‘Zitadelle’ (Citadel), known as the Battle of Kursk. The complete order of battle of the German forces was decrypted and passed on to the Russians. Hitler’s Luftwaffe were destroyed on the ground and then the longest tank battle in history ensued. The Germans never crossed the River Kursk as the Red Army was waiting for them. But even given all the improvements, the system still needed speeding up.

In early 1943, Bletchley Park again contacted the GPO at Dollis Hill for an even better machine. Newman was Turing’s lecturer at Cambridge. Turing suggested to Newman that he should speak with Tommy Flowers.

Flowers was familiar with using radio valves for speeding up telephone switching systems and went to Bletchley Park to be shown the problems with the Heath Robinson machine. He returned to Dollis Hill and in less than 12 months, together with a team of dedicated engineers, designed and built a machine that could break the settings of the Lorenz SZ40 cypher attachment, with many of the components paid for out of Flowers’ own pocket.

Codes were now broken not in weeks or days, but within three hours! Colossus could read data at 5,000 characters per second, with the tape spinning around at 30mph without shattering. Built within its circuitry was the logic of the Lorenz SZ40.

Colossus used the original punched teleprinter tape then analysed it, eliminating trillions of possibilities which enabled the code-breakers to decipher the original message. This gave Bletchley Park the ability to read messages of extreme importance.

The best example of this, to enable D-Day to proceed, was a massive deception plan set up by the Allies to ensure Hitler’s belief that the location of the D-Day invasion was to be at the Pas de Calais. This would confirm to the Allies that the D-Day invasion could go ahead, 150 miles to the west on the Normandy beaches with minimal heavy resistance from the Germans. For this to happen, Colossus enabled the allies to read Hitler’s mind. This was Colossus’s
finest hour!

The machines can be seen at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. Michael also has a series of books to complement his lectures. For more details, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Code-breaking, On the road with the silver bikers . . . and life at bush house

The mighty Colossus

Michael Kushner, of Milton Keynes U3A, is a guide at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. Here, he explains the history of the world’s first electronic digital computer

Back to Contents

fast rewind

Colossus computing

machine used to read

Nazi codes at Bletchley

Park, England, during

World War II


Graham Prentice/Alamy Stock Photo / World History Archive/Alamy Stock Photo / michael kushner

Bletchley Park Mansions,

home to the codebreakers.

Right: The Lorenz SZ40

The system was used to send battle plans from Hitler to his generals

Thomas Flowers designed

and built Colossus


Louis Berk/Alamy Stock Photo / michael kushner

Left: Teleprinter tape. Below: Teletype terminal connected to the Colossus. Right: Michael Kushner

Colossus used the original punched teleprinter tape then analysed it, eliminating trillions of possibilities


The love of biking

Tony Gurevitch, of the Isle of Man U3A’s Silver Dream Bikers group, explains what he loves most about being on two wheels

What do Prince William, Captain Sir Tom Moore, T. E. Lawrence and Charles Lindbergh – to name a few – have in common with me? A love of motorcycling, of course.

Prince William has owned some seriously powerful motorbikes including Ducatis, Hondas and Triumphs. Captain Sir Tom Moore rode motorbikes during World War II and delivered messages by motorbike through the jungles of Burma. Lawrence of Arabia loved riding Brough Superiors, although his untimely death at age 46 came on one, swerving to avoid two boys on bicycles, while aviator Charles Lindbergh rode his 1920 Excelsior bike to flying school.

And me? I was brought up in a working-class home. We didn’t have cars, but my dad had motorcycles. I passed my test at 17 and my best friend, Pete, and I were the only pupils in our school to turn up on motorbikes. We went on a road trip to the continent, which started my life-long love of touring.

Two years after retiring, my wife Eileen and I joined Bridlington U3A. We were members of various groups and I felt I should start a group. But what? Then came my lightbulb moment – motorcycles! I love touring abroad, riding through snow-capped mountain passes. So I set up the Silver Dream Bikers group, the first U3A motorcycle group in the UK.

Four years ago, Eileen and I moved to the Isle of Man, the biking Mecca, so naturally I joined the U3A and formed the Silver Dream Bikers (IOM).

Here’s what other members of the group love about biking …

Jem Cotton: “I’ve been hooked on biking since
I was eight. It’s given me great friends, travel and a few broken bones! Nowadays, I indulge my passion at a somewhat slower pace.”

Paul Dunderdale: “Riding means nothing else to do but concentrate on the road. Everything else fades for a while.”

Eileen Gurevitch: “I was 65 when I decided to learn to ride a bike. We put a scooter on the back of our motorhome and went to Ireland. We were enjoying the ride until the police stopped us, two on a bike displaying L-plates. All was explained and the police wished us a happy holiday. And I passed my test!”

Mark and Victoria Dolman: “When we moved to the Isle of Man, Victoria’s search for a ukulele group led her to the U3A and then to joining the Silver Dream Bikers. I now go on regular ride-outs, particularly around the
TT mountain course.”

Andy Corrin: “I wasn’t a motorcycle fanatic but this changed when I went on holiday
with three other Silver Dream Bikers to
Gran Canaria. We had 10 days riding in
the mountains. I wouldn’t have missed
it for anything.”

Clive Williamson: “I’ve ridden extensively in Britain and Europe. I have four classic bikes: a BSA Bantam, Norton Commando, Honda VF500 and a Kawasaki ZXR400.”

Ian Watling: “For me, motorcycling is the freedom of an open road, the wind, engine noise, acceleration, speed and cornering on two wheels. When these coalesce, they result in an exhilarating ride.”

David Steele: “My biking started at 18.
The engines fascinated me; I could appreciate their intricacy and power. Now, after 62 years and 19 bikes, I ride a Harley-Davidson Softail.”

From top: Eileen in

Ireland, 2007; Jem on

a Suzuki TL1000S at

Donington, 2001; Andy

in Gran Canaria, 2019

Tony, on the right,

in Brussels, 1962.

Below: Dave on a

Norman 250

Sports, 1959

terry brown

From locks of hair to pressed flowers, precious items found in books collected by Terry Brown, of Bradford on Avon U3A, tell their own stories ...

If only it could talk!” How often have you heard that said of a treasured antique possession? Well, some of my old books do talk – or at least they communicate, writes Terry Brown.

For many years I have collected old books, mainly about France,
dating back to the 18th century.

In past times, a book wasn’t just something to read and pass on to a charity shop. It was a treasured possession, and you didn’t have many. So some books of 100 years old or more contain messages or have precious items safely hidden between their pages. I always leave anything I find exactly where I found it.


If you were rich enough, you could label your books with your own personal artist-designed bookplate. Some are extremely posh with coats of arms and Latin tags, like that of William Ashton Tonge, who has a coat of arms with the motto ‘Ret ineo vi leonis’ and describes himself as ‘Gent’ in A Cruise upon Wheels by Charles Allston Collins, 1863. More modest book owners could buy a set of printed plates with space for them to write their name.

Some bookplates are little works of art. A Mirror to France by Ford Madox Ford, 1926, was owned by Frances Gould Ryman. The plate includes a scene of yachts at sea and several images which must have been personal to the owner. It was a gift described, bafflingly, as a ‘steamer book’ from ‘Mug’.

W.S. Galpin owned An Adventure by Elizabeth Morison and Frances Lamont, 1911. The authors’ names are pseudonyms of two ladies who wanted to remain anonymous. In view of its subject – a wholly unconvincing account of mysterious happenings in Versailles – I’m not surprised. However, Mr Galpin knew exactly who they were and uncovered their secret in clear red ink on the flyleaf. But I must respect their wishes.

Monica Bussy’s bookplate in Paris by Sidney Dark, 1926, takes us deep into French history. It contains a portrait of Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy, presumably her ancestor. This was naughty Roger who lived during the reign of Louis XIV. He wrote a book, privately circulated, which lampooned amorous goings-on in the French court. Unfortunately for him, it came to the notice of Louis XIV and Roger was imprisoned in the Bastille and then banished to his rather lovely chateau in Burgundy. From there, he wrote letters trying, unsuccessfully, to seduce his cousin Madame de Sevigne, the famous letter-writer of the time.

The Path to Paris by Frank Rutter, 1908, was ex libris Mr Butler Wood ,who enjoyed puns. His bookplate pictures a formally dressed butler holding a tray of drinks and standing under a tree. Groan.


Before the advent of public libraries there were plenty of private libraries, often intended to educate working people. My copy of Through Central France by Maude Speed, 1924, was from one of these. It was in the library of the Railway Mechanics’ Institute at Horwich and contained a list of firm rules for handling, including “The leaves of Books must not be turned down” and, underlined, “No person must write in them”. Lastly, a disturbingly contemporary-sounding note told the borrower what to do “if a Book has been exposed to infection”. Note the capital letter every time a Book was mentioned.

The Community of the Epiphany of Truro had Auvergne And Its People by Frances M. Gostling, 1911, in its collection. However, this book must have been sold on because on the facing page is stamped a new owner, Miss Vyvyan of Trelowarren, Cornwall. This was actually Lady C C Vyvyan who wrote several books including Down the Rhone on Foot, 1955. On part of this trip she was accompanied by Daphne du Maurier and two other ladies; she dedicated the book to her ‘good companions of the Rhone’, who included Daphne. Indeed, Daphne used Vyvyan’s estate of Trelowarren as a backdrop to several of her novels.


A simple pen inscription announces that A book of the Cevennes by S. Baring-Gould, M.A., 1907, was awarded to Muriel Temple Lazenby in July 1914. It was the form prize and is beautifully bound with the crest of Bulcote House, Scarborough in embossed gold on the front.

A more elaborate plate from the Convent of the Assumption, Kensington, is in Berry: The Heart of France by Percy Allen , 1923. This was awarded to Betty Riddell of Form V for ‘Good Work’ in 1925. ‘Good Work’ reads to me like an also-ran prize for someone who tried hard but didn’t quite make it to the top. Of course, I could be wrong.

Perhaps that contrasts with my copy
of The Boy’s Own Annual, 1899 – 1900, handsomely bound in leather. It was awarded to J. Reeves for good work and conduct (10 Stars!) from St Dunstan’s School, Burnham, Xmas 1909 – a bit late perhaps, nine years after publication.


My copy of Picturesque Old France by Herbert B. Turner, 1930, is signed by the author with a charming message thanking his friends ‘as a reminder of interesting conversations held at St Ives’ and dated January 4, 1932. D.T. Holmes also signed my copy of his book A Scot in France and Switzerland, 1910. This copy is marked as a ‘Presentation Copy’ and a later owner has written ‘Happy Birthday! We are looking for the sequiteur [sic] to this one – part 1 just misses Grenoble!’

Several books were clearly presents for birthdays or Christmas and given with love by mother or father – often expressed very formally around the start of the 20th century. An E. W. (identified only by his or her initials) wrote an entire poem in Tyrolean June by Nina Murdoch, 1936. It begins ‘In Tyrolean June the skies are blue, Meadows are carpeted with flowers of every hue.’

It continues for four more lines but I’m afraid it doesn’t get any better. This poem is dedicated, mysteriously, ‘To Edwin 2nd Oct, 1926 – 2nd Oct, 1936’.


I often find surrogate bookmarks between the pages of old books – bus tickets, shopping lists, letters and postcards. But sometimes items have been hidden deliberately. Touraine and Its Story by Anne MacDonell, 1910, was given to Margaret E. Evans by her uncle, and Margaret had a penchant for collecting four-leafed clovers. I think her complete collection is between the pages of this book. I hope they brought her luck; they didn’t help my copy of the book, which is gradually falling to pieces.

The contents of Normandy in Colour by Gordon Home, 1905, are more mundane. For reasons I cannot fathom there is a compliments slip ‘With the Sewerage Engineer’s Compliments’ from the Sewerage Engineer’s Office of Leeds.

Florence by Edward Hutton, 1952, is much more ornate. A hand-written quotation at the back informs us: “We are encapsulated in our own moment in time. Like a fly in amber.” Between these pages are numerous pressed flowers. Reading this book is like walking through a preserved garden.

Some owners of travel books keep records of their own travels. Burgundy Past & Present by Evelyn M. Hatch, 1927, contains a list on the flyleaf of all the places in Burgundy visited by a Mr Davis in 1938, 1944-45, and 1947. A paper lists places of interest with detailed notes about the architecture. A letter thanks Mr Davis for his suggestions of out-of-the-way places to visit. The sender and recipient are clearly both academics as reference is made to a thesis and lectures.

The Land of France by Ralph Dutton and Lord Holden, 1939, can be found in virtually every secondhand bookshop. But my copy is different. It was bought by Margaret M. Robinson in 1943 when France was occupied by Germany. She collected foreign stamps and she stuck 12 of these, all from French colonies and all including the words ‘France Libre’, in the front and back of the book.

My last book hides a story, rather than tells one. The Tourist in France by Thomas Roscoe was published in 1834. Between pages 62 and 63 is a lock of hair. It is very fair and fine and is clearly from a child’s head. Slight staining on the pages indicates it has been there for a long time. What is the story behind that? We can only speculate.


between the lines

A book wasn’t just something to read and pass on ... it was a treasured possession

Numerous pressed

flowers were found

in Florence, by

Edward Hutton, 1952


terry brown

Book collector

Terry Brown

It was awarded to J.Reeves as the prize for ‘good work and conduct’
in 1909

From left: France Libre stamps from

WWII. Personal notes in Burgundy

Past and Present. Below: Some

bookplates are steeped in history


The lock of hair

hidden in The

Tourist in France

terry brown

heritage image partnerhip ltd/alamy stock photo / bbc / jill heller

There was once an island, about the size of a city block, where the people spoke 46 languages. They didn’t argue; they were all saying the same thing at the same time.

The island was building in London, between Kingsway and the Strand, with a constant river of traffic swirling round it. In pride of place stands Bush House, once the home of the BBC’s World Service. High up on the building, facing Kingsway, a statue holds a torch. Above it the legend reads: ‘Nation shall speak peace unto nation.’ At the time, ‘speaking peace’ meant news – unbiased words that tended to be believed all around the world. Bulletins in English were issued from the newsroom to be translated into those 46 languages. Or was it 47? 48? Did the different dialects count?

In the language sections, secretaries sat poised at typewriters, nervously eyeing the clock. Clocks ruled. The translator picked up the newly arrived bulletin and began translating. No time for corrections – straight on to the typewriter while the clock ticked. ‘We’re on air in 30 minutes.’ To fit the allotted broadcasting time – and to allow for a snatch of Lillibullero, the World Service signature tune – news bulletins had to be exactly 90 lines long.

After the news bulletin, each language section became individual, broadcasting programmes on current affairs, the arts, sciences or sport. One Christmas, the Russian Service broadcast a Winnie the Pooh story, in Russian of course. Without understanding a word, it was obvious that the gloomy chap with a lugubrious face was Eeyore and the lady who kept jumping up and down in front of the microphone was Piglet.

The World Service shone at big royal occasions, such as the coronation or a royal wedding. BBC vans, tucked into any available driveway, spewed out wires trailing towards dozens of broadcasters lining the streets, giving live commentaries. When a golden coach came into view, voices rose with excitement.

Strange, unpronounceable names appeared when a new leader emerged somewhere across the globe. To be safe, the Pronunciation Unit was phoned. When they answered the phone, there was a distinct ‘ow’ in the word ‘pronunciation’. Imagine trying to say ‘Dag Hammarskjold’ without checking. And, inevitably, some names were decidedly rude in another language. The Czechs refused to say Nasser, which means something unspeakable in Czech, so they used the Arabic form, Nassir. In the canteen, every time a Romanian was called to the telephone over the loudspeaker, the Portuguese did their best to stifle their giggles. Almost every Romanian name is rude in Portuguese. The fact that there is no H in Russian caused a few problems, too. A visiting dignitary called Hobbs found himself introduced as Mr Gobbs.

English pronunciation often caused difficulties as well. Due to difficulty in pronouncing our short ‘i’, people from Spain and Portugal would sometimes pronounce ‘ship’ as ‘sheep’, so we could have ‘a sheep in full sail docking at Tilbury’. Articles, or lack of them, also caused problems. A furious Slav woman was heard to say of her arch-enemy, ‘She is cow.’ When the use of an article was explained to her, she told us that her brother would soon be coming to ‘the London’.

Our idioms are also a minefield for foreigners. A Portuguese translator who always got the bee’s pyjamas and the cat’s knees muddled up, was heard to say on the phone, ‘Let us sit down on brass tacks’. The English people who worked at Bush House smiled at these slips, while being humbly aware of the erudition of the linguists. Most spoke more than one language fluently. There were people from all walks of life – authors, professors, art historians and actors. Sometimes in a crowded lift you would find yourself nose to nose with a familiar face. Ah yes, he was a Nazi in the play on television last night.

It’s a cliché, of course, but there was a certain elegance about the French Section – and the Poles. Members of the Polish section exuded a distinct sophistication, probably helped by the presence of a genuine prince in their midst. There were aristocrats and princes in other sections too, from countries that had kicked out their royal families. Politicians of all persuasions had to keep their views in check while they broadcast ‘peace unto nations’.

With so much news on TV now, the sections concentrating on radio broadcasts dispersed; people no longer rush about clutching bits of paper, leaping into lifts with seconds to go before they went ‘on air’.

The last broadcast from Bush House was in 2012. BBC World Service is now at Broadcasting House in Portland Place.

Mind your


Jill Heller, of Dacorum U3A, worked in the Portuguese department for the BBC World Service. Here, she recalls some of the humorous incidents

Jill Heller, below, worked at

Bush House in the 1960s.

Below left: The news room

at Bush House


There were aristocrats and princes … from countries that had kicked out their royal families

Far left: Bush House. Left, Jill on the right, holding the rail, with Portuguese translators

the print collector/alamy stock photo / jill heller

john wildgoose

Enjoy a two-night stay in
a luxury hotel - worth £450

win a break in scotland; tickets to shakespeare's globe theatre

Set in 365 acres on the outskirts of Perth, Murrayshall is one of Scotland’s prime visitor destinations

The historic hilltop luxury 40-bedroom hotel, golf club and country estate was built in 1664.

We’re offering a prize of two nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast for two at Murrayshall, worth £450.

Dining is a culinary delight. The Lynedoch Brasserie serves traditional and modern dishes using local, seasonal ingredients. Enjoy the best of gastropub fare in cosy, cheerful and friendly Stutts Clubhouse Bar and Grill.

Murrayshall is just an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow, 90 minutes from Aberdeen and less than 30 minutes from Dundee. It’s a short taxi ride from Perth’s railway and bus stations.

Maps of walking routes around the estate are available, helping guests enjoy the spectacular views of the Highlands.

Guided tours by boat will take you under the 18th-century A-listed bridge through the heart of Perth – known as The Fair City after the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Fair Maid of Perth in 1828 – or further downstream on the Tay to Newburgh in Fife, finishing at Lindores Abbey distillery. Or perhaps try paddleboarding or kayaking.

To enter our competition, answer the question below and email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post your entry to U3A Competition, Murrayshall Country House Hotel and Estate, Scone, Perth PH2 7PH. Entries close on 30 September. The prize must be taken by 31 March 2022. Please include the name of your U3A and membership number.

Q. Who wrote the novel The Fair Maid of Perth?

a. Robert Burns

b. Charles Dickens

c. Sir Walter Scott

Terms & Conditions: The winner will receive two nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast for two (based on two sharing a double room) plus a bottle of house wine on one night. The first dinner will be served in Stutts Bar and Grill and the second in the Lynedoch Brasserie. No activities, travel or other meals or drinks are included. The stay is subject to Government regulations on travel and hospitality in place at the time.

how to enter

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Murrayshall hotel and

estate. Below: the

Lynedoch Brasserie


We’re offering a first prize of tickets for a matinee performance in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (the indoor theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe), a guided tour and afternoon tea for two, worth up to £200, and a second prize of two tickets for the guided tour with a copy of our beautifully illustrated guidebook.

Group visitors are also welcome back and tours can be tailored to include a performance and refreshments in Swan at the Globe, the theatre’s on-site bar and restaurant.

The open-air theatre, the Globe, on the banks of the River Thames, has productions for everyone. After the show, experience afternoon tea with a Shakespearean twist at the Swan.

For more information, go to

Win tickets, tour and afternoon tea at Shakespeare’s Globe

To enter our competition, answer the question below and fill in your details, including the U3A you belong to, at The competition closes on 10 October 2021.

Which river is Shakespeare’s Globe positioned next to?

a. Thames

b. Wye

c. Severn

Terms & Conditions: Prize has to be redeemed by 1 April 2022. Travel expenses not included. There are no cash alternatives and tickets and tea are non-transferable.

how to enter

A guided tour

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brain games

puzzle page - solutions page 86


From Leicester U3A Cryptic Crosswords Group 2


1 See C-in-C involved in Physics say (7)

5 Bridge-like language (7)

9 Teachers from Brazil? (3)

10 Game involving nine battles (5,6)

11 We all have an ID body (8)

12 Some of these ski mostly on a journey to the Inuit (6)

15 Good boy is pleased (4)

17 College once unknown with no record threin for application of 1 across (10)

19 Those going between to bury TV etc (10)

20 That man heard a song (4)

23 Checks German car on back street (6)

24 Evening suffered by Wagner’s gods (8)

27 Child stationer as soldier (11)

29 A rower sits inboard (3)

30 They favour bearskins we hear (7)

31 Purported that lion played with man (7)


1 Chant in key - squealing (7)

2 Fibre found in some thistles (5)

3 Record that gallery is closed (6)

4 Dissatisfied with beer in Eastern sea (10)

5 Dogs and cats move up a notch (4)

6 Dislike of one kind (8)

7 Charged particle - not a Scottish
island (3)

8 The man’s a conservative? - that was in the past (7)

13 Metal unknown, that’s sarcastic (5)

14 Presidentess might one say? - female seat? - no the reverse of that (10)

16 Performed account by poet Hughes (5)

18 Scripts may be ‘Creative’ (8)

19 I chat endlessly with a Scotsman in
this language (7)

21 Beat up a Russian mountain - that’s simple (7)

22 Ample numbers will include a full assembly (6)

25 Queen in formal dress has become
larger (5)

26 Supports - they’re not wanted
by 30 across (4)

28 Fashion and Design leaders create
a short-lived enthusiasm (3)

To submit a Crossword, grids should be no bigger than 15 square. email it to Quizzes and maths challenges are available online at



From Michael Cleaver, of Lancaster & Morecambe u3a

Your Lead, Partner

If defence is the toughest part of bridge to master, as most writers maintain, then the opening lead must be the single most difficult aspect of the game. While it is possible to speculate on the best opening lead by listening carefully to the bidding and looking at one's own hand, there are woefully few times when an intelligently conceived opening lead will turn out to be a real “killer”. The best anybody can aspire to is opening leads that are above average in the long run.


1 You hold: AJ75 853 KQ6 KJ5. You would open 1NT, but RHO bids 1NT in front of you. You pass and LHO raises to 3NT. They have 25/26 points so partner can hold nothing of value. Lead 5, and keep leading ♥ whenever you can.

2 With the same auction as above, you hold: AQJ9 ♥96 ♦J9764 A2. Lead A then Q; you hope to cash Q and 9 when you win A

3 Again, with the same auction as above you hold: QJ103 ♥K972 ♦QJ102 5

4 Your choice is between Q and ♦Q. Better to lead the major suit, because responder did not bid Stayman.

5 When they have bid two suits; 1♦ - 1 - 1NT - 3NT

6 You hold: 108752 ♥J9 ♦ 104 J1097; Usually wrong to lead /♦. Partner is more likely to be long in ♥ than . Lead ♥J


1 They bid: 1 - 3 - 4. You hold: 9762 ♥KJ83 ♦84 K73. Leading away from a king is a bad idea. Lead ♦8, petering to show a doubleton.

2 Same auction, You hold: 975 ♦QJ854 ♥AQ73 6. Leading a side suit singleton is an excellent idea.

3 Same auction, you hold: J42 ♥A2 ♦K9 1098643. Leading from a doubleton honour can also be a good idea . Lead ♥A.

4 Leading a trump is rarely a good idea, except where they land in their third or fourth suit.

They bid: 1♥ - 2 - 2♦ - P. They will be looking for cross-ruffs. Lead diamonds whenever you can.

puzzle page - solutions page 86




for more professor rebus puzzles visit

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professor rebus



7 Freezing the baker's bonus? (5)

8 Metal said to ban rubbish? (5)

14 Snow home logo with an eye, say, for detail (5)

15 Include second person, say, in farewell? (5)

1a Greet in t' North, making cake for a pud? Yum! (2,2,2,4)

9a US male, say, to sort palette out (4,1,6)

11a Ants' suppers are a mystery drug (11)

16a Dairy product unlocked in tumbler kit (10)



2 Tunis is not ideal for singles (5)

3 Fool of the Beaker People? (3)

5 Biscuit is not cooked to old length (5)

12 Rice made from peanut oil with an 'off' tone (5)

13 A libido, at first used as an excuse (5)

15 Melody herd, say, in dairy farm? (3)

1d Using pittas as bait is rather over the hill (1,3,4,2)

4d Nerds all in a tizzy about meals (7)

6d Terrified to float away in raft, sucker? (10)

10d Hair, portrayed as a bit of a landing spot (7)

peter flude

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Support helped to save me, too

I was very moved by the article about
The Repair Shop presenter Jay Blades’ life, difficult times, recovery and success (TAM, Summer).

I can’t claim anything like the success he has achieved but I can relate to having had a breakdown at much the same age as Jay was and to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

In 1987, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed and, after my first marriage broke down, a couple of spells in hospital and the loss of a job, I found myself one day in my car deep in some woods with a bottle of whisky and a supply of Tamazepam tablets. I could see no future and had resolved to commit suicide. What stopped me, I still don’t know but
I do know the subsequent support of friends and colleagues pulled me round and, slowly but surely, I rebuilt my life.

I started my own management consultancy, rejoined am-dram and musical groups, and met my second wife – we recently celebrated our pearl anniversary.

Looking back from the very good place I’m in now, I can’t fully understand how
I ever got into such a dark place but I do know that to emerge whole again took the unstinting support, warmth and encouragement of a select few people, who I can never thank enough. They don’t need my help, so I try to recognise and help others that I am aware are
suffering from depression.

I found Jay’s story heart-wrenching
and inspiring.

Ray Russell, Sevenoaks U3A, Kent

  • Thank you so much for your fascinating feature on Jay Blades.

I greatly enjoy The Repair Shop and Money for Nothing, and seeing the efforts, imagination and care devoted to restoring or repurposing worn or unwanted artefacts. For many years, I lived in High Wycombe and was familiar with the iconic and still sought-after local furniture – tomorrow’s antiques.

Reading about Jay and his journey brought back happy memories of home life with a bench and tools, making, restoring, repairing or recycling.

That’s a genre we could do with more of; revealing those worthy of admiration.

Terry Quadling, Bristol U3A

  • I really enjoyed the Summer issue of TAM, with so many interesting articles. Jay Blades’ story shows how much we can achieve, as does Dr Ranjit Arora’s life. The articles on fashion and trolleybuses brought back memories.

But the two articles I really want to comment on are Linda Fraser’s I was given the gift of a liver transplant and Growing up with hatred.

At the age of 11 in 1959, I turned yellow. Doctors thought it was hepatitis. However, I did not get better and was referred to Professor Sheila Sherlock, one of the first experts in liver disease, at the Royal Free Hospital. Two-thirds of my liver was destroyed and my parents were told I had six months to live. I had cirrhosis of the liver.

It was decided they would try a new drug, prednisolone. No one knew then about autoimmune liver disease, which is what it would have been diagnosed as today. The prednisolone and strict diet worked and I went on to train as a nurse.

I had two children but had a relapse in 1981. With medication and rest I recovered and have not required a liver transplant. The doctors are amazed that my liver function remains good but they keep a close eye on me. I am now involved in advising on medical research from a patient/public perception through the National Institute for Health Research and Patient and Public Involvement in Health Research at University Hospitals Birmingham.

Turning to the other subject, my mother was German, her mother was Jewish and her father was Lutheran. My mother came to England in about 1936, leaving behind four brothers and a sister in Germany. My mother wanted to become a seamstress and her sister wanted to be a dietitian but they were not allowed to complete their training as their mother was Jewish. During the war, my grandfather was imprisoned as he refused to divorce his Jewish wife. My grandmother was terrified that she would be taken by the Nazis. My mother’s eldest brother was killed and the family went through some very difficult times.

Although my immediate family survived, others in the family did not and we believe some were taken to Auschwitz. The Holocaust is part of my heritage and I will never forget how people suffered during those terrible times.

Anne Phillips, Stourbridge U3A, West Midlands

Evacuee memories

I was an evacuee in the war (Letters, Summer). When I was 18 months old, Mum received a letter from the local council instructing her to take me to an evacuation reception centre at St John’s Wood, north London. I and other children were left in the care of nurses.

The next day we were taken to Paddington station and a train took us to Chippenham, where we were transferred by bus to a large country house. I have never found out where this house was or what it was called. Do any other U3A members who were evacuees have any clues please?

Roy Snelling, Torbay U3A

A life on the stage

I was interested in the article about the history of our theatres (Sources, Summer). I am 86 and have spent a lifetime in amateur theatre. My first performance was in July 1939 at four years old and since then I have performed with many groups at Sunday school, grammar school, a local group in Surrey and even on camp when doing my National Service with the RAF. My last show was a pantomime in February 2020.

What a wonderful time I have had, with so many happy memories. I don’t imagine my 82 years on the stage is a record but it would be interesting to hear from other members of U3A who have spent many years on the amateur stage.

John Smith, Thornbury U3A, Gloucestershire

  • In May 1955, my wife and a friend went to the Nottingham Empire. The top of the bill, and the reason that they went, was the singer Ruby Murray, who was very popular at the time. We still have the programme. When we looked inside it, two of the supporting acts were Bruce Forsyth and Morecambe and Wise.

W J Beed, Exmouth U3A


As the one who started the material published in recent issues on trolleybuses, I feel I must make some corrections to the photo captions on page 64 (TAM, Summer), just to put the record straight.

The captions are transposed, the top one (the single decker) is the vehicle from Mexborough & Swinton (S. Yorks); the middle one is London trolleybus no. 1521 (coincidentally on route 521) and the bottom one is the Reading vehicle.

Colin Read, Croydon U3A

U3A has been a lifeline

The past 18 months have been the worst time in most people’s lives. For those of us on our own, it has been much tougher.

The amount of support and help given by U3A committees, co-ordinators and fellow members has been outstanding and greatly appreciated by everyone.

It is unfair to mention one or two people but the newsletter sent every Sunday is very much looked forward to, as all upcoming events are listed here. This has included roughly 90 classes a week and Monday Morning Talk arranged by a committee member and her team. Indeed a true lifeline, thanks to all.

Christine Bye, U3A in London

  • I was surprised to read Jean Sutton’s letter (Letters, Summer) suggesting that U3A members should take the lead in acknowledging people they pass with a smile as this happens automatically with most people in my village. Generations of families seem to remain in the village, and because of clubs and activities such as U3A where one gets used to seeing the same faces even though we may not know names, smiling when passing people seems to be naturally accepted.

I wonder if it’s also a Yorkshire thing. After all, we’re not exactly known for being shy and retiring, are we? It would be interesting to hear the experiences of other towns and villages. Do people from other counties automatically talk to each other, strangers or not, at bus stops? It’s amazing how many life stories one can hear while waiting 10 minutes for a bus or, in the case of my village, about an hour!

I hope Jean persists in her quest of acknowledging people with a smile and
I hope it pays dividends.

Liz Jesson, Sherburn & Villages U3A, North Yorkshire

No room in the garage

The comments about car parking on the roads (Letters, Summer) do not take into account the very small garages which are built these days. We have a modest car but if we put it into the garage, we cannot open the doors.

If we had an SUV, the most popular vehicle these days, it wouldn’t fit on our drive either.

Susan Brooks, Weston-super-Mare U3A, Somerset

Too many people?

Several correspondents have sent tips on how to resist climate change, all of which are useful. However, I am sure that all these, and many more besides, will not overcome the problems we face in attempting to preserve our planet in the condition we would like.

The basic problem is simple and brutal; there are too many people. If the present population persists, and worse, increases in line with even the most modest predictions, there will not be room for us and the agricultural land and forests we need, still less a chance of preserving the scenery and wildlife we love.

Even cleaning up our waste problems and recycling everything will probably not satisfy the resource needs of a population of nine billion or more, nor could global warming be avoided if we are to live at all comfortably. To be successful in the little time that remains before change and destruction set in, this must be addressed now.

Many readers would be shocked to learn how many people worldwide are not educated in, or given access to, any kind of birth control. Unbelievably, some countries still encourage large families for nationalist reasons, and developed countries avoid encouraging the Third World to act on birth control or abortion.

If you can see the elephant in the room, join Population Matters. At least you can then say that you tried to fix things in
your lifetime!

Martyn Dowell, Southampton U3A

  • You have featured several suggestions about what we, individually, can do about climate change. I’d like to draw attention to the advice given in Ethical Consumer magazine that top of the list should be checking that the organisations providing our pensions, annuities and looking after any investments we may have aren’t using our money to back fossil-fuel companies.

The best thing to do is to change companies if you get an unsatisfactory answer – relatively easy with investments but difficult with pensions and annuities. They may not even want to tell you what they are doing with your money but the more people put pressure on them, the more likely they are to pay attention.

Bob Stock, Three Brethren U3A, Scottish Borders

costly Heat pumps

David Dundas (Letters, Summer) wants us to consider replacing old boilers with heat pumps. We are downsizing to a three-bedroom bungalow from a larger property with solar roof panels and an air source heat pump. David forgets two important points.

The first is cost – nine big solar panels, just over £4,000, the actual air source heat pump, cylinder and equipment, over £12,000. Costs may of course reduce in a larger market, as solar panels have done.

The second is space and a sound floor – the highly insulated cylinder, in our case a 250-litre model, took four men to lift it into the bungalow. The expansion vessel and other kit and pipework takes up the space at least equal to a large fitted three-door wardrobe, much more space than a gas boiler. I wonder how many houses will have enough room for all this extra equipment.

We are in our 70s and aim to future-proof as much as we can, but it isn’t cheap!

Roger Taylor, Wetherby & District U3A

  • I am tired of reading comments promoting the benefits of heat pump technology when there is clearly little understanding of the disadvantages of such systems.

We are often told that heat pumps are the ideal replacements for gas central heating boilers and are the way to solve the problems of climate change.

Heat pumps require electricity. Their ‘green credentials’ rely on the ‘green-ness’ of the electricity generation system.
Solar panels don’t work at night and windmill generation doesn’t work when there is no wind. We need power stations to fill in the gaps in generating capacity and there will be a lot of gaps to fill when we all try to recharge our electric cars overnight.

Heat pumps produce low temperature heat. They are at their most efficient when installed in new houses which are built to high insulation standards and when used in underfloor heating schemes.

To compensate for the lower temperatures when retrofitted to existing homes, radiators need to be much bigger and property insulation standards need to be increased significantly. Most of us would prefer 20°C rather than 18°C in our home in the middle of winter.

What about wall insulation if you have solid walls? Do you want to have your walls coated eternally with insulation, covering up your nice brickwork with grey rendering? And don’t forget that if you increase your wall thickness you might have to increase the eaves projection of the roof, adjust all your rainwater pipes, drainpipes and drains. You won’t be able to if your home is in a conservation area or is a listed building. You might then be forced to consider lining your walls internally.

But can you endure the disruption of having all your skirting boards and architraves removed to allow for the insulation to be installed?

Did I mention the cost of all these things?

Most gas-fired boilers installed within the past ten years are reasonably efficient; newer boilers will be more so. A sensible approach is all that is needed; a modern boiler, installing insulation that is practical and cost-effective, and making sure that any appliance is serviced regularly so that it is at its most efficient.

John Ellaway, Spelthorne U3A, Surrey

we need space research

While agreeing with Fran Burrows (Letters, Summer) that space should probably not be ‘a giant skip for our waste’, scrapping our space technology is not sensible. Economically, our use of space
is valuable.

A new report commissioned by UK Space shows that £270 billion of UK economic output is dependent on data from non-UK satellites. So we need more of our own. It says the space sector is worth around £14.8 billion to the UK economy. Its productivity is nearly three times the national average and its productivity gains are spread across the UK (UK Space Report, December 2020). Space technology has given us huge benefits. From space, we monitor global warming, the change in ocean currents, deforestation, important weather forecasting, the hole in the ozone layer (leading to the banning of CFCs), not to mention communications systems.

The cost? Apparently, what the UK government spends on space is less than £400 million a year – a tiny drop in the ocean compared with our GDP. In fact, the total spend on science, engineering and technology is only about 0.6% of

And what of the carbon footprint of rocket launches? Well, the main propellant of choice for NASA and many others is liquid hydrogen. When burned, every schoolchild knows what that produces – pure water. And I’ll leave you to think of all the non-essentials that produce CO2 in their manufacture and are less useful and far more abundant than a few reusable rockets.

Lloyd Silverthorne, Bishops Cleeve U3A, Gloucestershire

  • Regarding the recycling of plastic garden pots (TAM, Summer), I have redistributed my spare ones via a Waste Savers local Facebook page where articles are given away for free and collected by the recipients. There is also Freecycle, and my local B&Q also takes these items.

Margaret Oldham, Oldham & District U3A

  • How are readers faring with compostable envelopes? Compostable plastic envelopes that have been in my compost heap for some time are largely still intact. I wonder whether this is a ploy by plastic manufacturers to persuade us that they are environmentally friendly?

What do I do with these envelopes? They shouldn’t go into the recyclable bin, nor the black bin. I can’t reuse them and there is no point in putting them in the compost heap.

Peter Caspar, Exeter U3A

Puzzling thoughts

I never thought I would become the sort of person who would have a cryptic crossword puzzle sitting on the kitchen table for days in order to complete it. Then I reached the age of 62 and I received TAM and had a go at Professor Rebus.

I have discovered that I am good at Sudoku and a bit feeble, but improving, at Pitcherwits. The cryptic crossword – well, apart from initially scaring me half to death, I am attempting it and this is the reason for this letter.

How do I learn to stretch my brain away from its logical pathways to solve the clues? Does anyone have any tips? I know that I need to buy a thesaurus but that is all I know about.

Zoe Collins, Lisburn U3A

no more cheques!

As a youthful-minded person in her mid-60s, I am constantly baffled as to why so many U3A activities constantly refer to the need to pay by cheque and do not have the facility to pay online.

A number of times, I have read an article and considered paying for something, only to find it requests payment by cheque, with no mention of online payment. Personally, I have not had a cheque book for a number of years, and I know that is the same for friends of a similar age.

To keep up to date and to encourage membership of recently retired people, we need a modern way of attracting new members. I’m afraid that forever talking about cheques will alienate people.
I know it frustrates me.

Christine Maskill, York U3A

EXPERIENCE vs degree

How much does experience count these days? I am a retired mechanical engineer and currently helping with the voluntary group REMAP, which adapts and makes equipment for disabled people that cannot be purchased.

I obtained City & Guilds Mechanical Engineer Technicians parts I and II and I am a member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

I have worked on engines since the age of 17 and have been involved in a wide range of products, but I did not have a university degree.

Some of my full-time experience involved working on Formula One racing engines. A university degree was not needed for that, but practical experience was most necessary.

I am very much in favour of young people doing formal apprenticeships with both practical experience and theoretical knowledge.

Patrick Kimber (EngTech MIET), Hertford U3A; Ware U3A

email your letters, Including your name AND YOUR U3A, and with “letters” in the subject line, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or post to U3A office

Jay Blades, centre, and The

Repair Shop team


U3A members have

been tracing the

history of our theatres

Plastic pots: How do

you recyle yours?

TAM receives more letters than it has space for, so they may be edited, cut, omitted or held over

trevor ponman

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classified ads

Copy to Jenni MurphyThird Age Trust
156 Blackfriars Road
London, SE1 8EN

Email: advertise@U3A org uk

Deadline for next issue:1 October 2021
Rate £1.87 a word + VAT @ 20%
Box number charge: £10

A box number is essential for any advertisement seeking contact with others, as we do not publish private postal or email addresses, nor phone numbers, in such advertisements.

Send box number replies to: Jenni Murphy, Third Age Trust, The Foundry, 156 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8EN. Write the Box No above the address on the envelope and remember to enclose your contact details

As soon as your order is accepted, you will be sent a formal invoice with the details of your order, and you will be asked to pay this before the deadline. Please include a full postal address (not for publication unless requested) with your advertisement and state if you are a member of a u3a and, if so, which one. Remittances should be sent to Jenni Murphy at the national office (address left) and cheques made payable to the Third Age Trust.

Holiday advertisements

Readers should ensure any offer complies with UK and EU regulations governing package holidays etc, if appropriate, before parting with any money. The Third Age Trust cannot be held responsible for this.

Family Research

Grandfather fought in The Great War? Didn’t talk about it? Let an experienced military family historian discover his experiences for you. 07796 633516

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For Sale

Executor’s sale of fully equipped Greek Island home. Sleeps 6/7, ideal holiday lets or family use. Five minutes walk to port, beach or village. For pictures and full information contact:

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STITCHABLE - selling cross stitch kits, patterns, needleminders, accessories and more.

Holidays Canary Islands

TENERIFE Los Cristianos. Luxurious one bed apartment, quiet area close to sea.

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Mallorca, Puerto Pollensa. Comfortable beach front 2 bedroom apartment. Heating/aircon Access to all summer & winter activities. Available all year weekly or longer lets.

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Holidays Spain

Altea, Costa Blanca. Modern 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, heated apartment. Pool, tennis, garden, garage. Shops, restaurants, beach close. Warm winter area. Transfers available.

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Torrevieja Costa Blanca. Modern 2 bed villa, well maintained, close to beaches and all amenities. Available all year, long/short let.

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Holidays UK

POOLE HARBOUR shoreline cottage sleeps 4. Stunning views. Close Poole Quay. Prices from £350pw - £930pw.

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LAKE DISTRICT - 4-star well-equipped cottage, one mile from Windermere. 2 bedroom/2 bathrooms. Sleeps 4. Great walking from cottage. Wi-fi. Short breaks available. No pets/No smokers. 01695 633376

Topsham Devon. 2-bedroom cottage overlooking Exe Estuary and hills. Local shops, inns, teashops, walks. Coast, moors, Exeter nearby. Tel 029 20759314

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CANTERBURY KENT (7 miles). Just for two. Unique barn conversion, self-catering, rural area. 01227 700428

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YORKSHIRE DALES NATIONAL PARK. The Granary, sleeps 2/3, comfortable, well-equipped S.C. “Hidden Gem”. Picturesque surroundings, good walking, cycling, dark sky gazing. Skipton 9 miles.

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HOLIDAYS JURASSIC COAST 4 berth caravan on quiet site in Thomas Hardy country, modern well appointed.

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u3a members and friends are welcome to our short stay accommodation. Max 3 people in NW London/Herts border. Convenient for travel into Central London and M25/M1. Quiet, self-contained and private. Parking on-site.

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Top professional introduction agency. Specialising in bringing together attractive, intelligent people for companionship, romance and maybe more. Relaxed, confidential personal interviews in your home, London/S England. Call Sandra at Affinity, 020 8832 9030.

Attractive active lady late 70s with many interests WLTM a gentleman to share interests and enjoy life with. Middx/Surrey.

Reply to Box No 362

Widow, early 70s WLTM gentleman for friendship/companionship/outings. Essex.

Reply to Box No 363

Widower (active retired engineer) WLTM lady in her 70s. Bradford on Avon area.

Reply to Box No 285

I’m 74, female. I am widowed and recently moved to Luton to be near family. I’m fit, healthy and financially independent. I love walking in the countryside, and travelling to see new or familiar places. I also enjoy meals out, theatre and movies and having friendly chats, or just sharing pleasant meals at home. I would like to make new friends, male or female for companionship and sharing common interests.

Reply to Box No 297

Female, early 70s, 5’8”, slim build with a positive outlook on life seeks kind and courteous gentleman 5’11” + to share life, travel and adventures. Midlands.

Reply to Box No 365

SLIM ACTIVE WIDOW, 66, WLTM gentleman similar age for friendship, days out. Cumbria/Lanc.

Reply to Box No 366

Slim Blonde fun loving Widow, WLTM an attractive gentleman 66-75, to enjoy happy times together. Cheshire.

Reply to Box No 280

Suffolk. Slim woman, 65, financially independent, enjoys countryside, classical/folk music, history, art, gardens. Seeks male friend for companionship, outings, holidays, maybe soulmate.

Reply to Box No 367

Gentleman. Age 80. Youthful, very active. Widower. Kind, thoughtful, positive. Many interests travel, music, socialising, volunteering. WLTM lady 70+ for friendship/enjoying life. Tonbridge.

Reply to Box No 368

Petite, slim, pretty divorcee, LONDON NW11 seeks charming, funny male companion with integrity and no ties, preferably under 75, to enjoy dining out, days out, flea markets and films. To know more, please contact me!

Reply to Box No 364


Writing memoirs or self-publishing? Need a professional editor’s eye to proofread your material? I can help make your work fit for purpose. Website:

07516 698300

French Tutor Love reading? Always wanted to learn French? Come and combine the two! Email Natalie:

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Fountain Pens, Ball Pens and Pencils. Parker, Mont Blanc, Waterman, Cross, etc.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07860 589959

Ercol Windsor (BLOND) Furniture bought and sold refurbishment service available.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07860 589959

Cover Wanted Large Victorian rocking horse.

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BOOK COLLECTIONS, interesting ones, the older the better, BOUGHT & SOLD.

Martin Johnson 01253 850075

Record Collections Wanted - Nationwide. Complete collections, no cherry picking - best cash prices. Professional service, COVID precautions taken at all times.

Call Chris McGranaghan on 07795 548242

Devon wanted to rent for six months over the winter. Small 2 bedroomed house or flat in the village of Modbury, South Devon.

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ALL OLD BADGES BOUGHT. Bought, including GIRL GUIDES & SCOUTS both Cloth and Metal, Also Nursing, Military, Motor & Motor Cycling, All Others Considered. Also MASONIC & RAOB Medals & SIMILAR. Telephone Malcolm, 01788 810616.

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professor rebus

Across: 1 Ay up me duck 7 Icing 8 Noble 9 Post a letter 11 Suppressant 14 Igloo 15 Adieu 16 Buttermilk. Down: 1 A bit past it 2 Units 3 Mug 4 Dinners 5 Cubit 6 Fear struck 10 Airport 12 Pilau 13 Alibi 15 Air.


Across: 1 Science 5 Spanish 9 Nut 10 Table Tennis 11 Identity 12 Eskimo 15 Glad 17 Technology 19 Intermedia 20 Hymn 23 Audits 24 Twilight 27 Infantryman 29 Oar 30 Nudists 31 Nominal.

Down: 1 Singing 2 Istle 3 Notate 4 Embittered 5 Step 6 Aversion 7 Ion 8 History 13 Irony 14 Chairwoman 16 Acted 18 Writings 19 Italian 21 Natural 22 Plenum 25 Grown 26 Bras 28 Fad.