ANNUAL REPORT 2016-17
This is my first report as secretary of Settle District U3A. The year has been a steep learning curve assimilating the various responsibilities and skills required; also getting to know the full (and remarkable) range of activities undertaken by the members.
Membership: Has increased this year to a healthy 363 with four honorary members. In March we held a very well attended meeting to welcome ‘New Members’.
The Groups: are set up and ably managed by Debi, the Group Organiser. We have had an impressive 35 groups this year, from Archaeology to the ever popular Walking Group. The U3A philosophy of participation and sharing is very apparent in all our groups where people share their enthusiasm and expertise with others who choose to learn more.
A lunch was held at Debi’s in April as a ‘thank you’ to the group leaders who give their time, dedication and knowledge to support our ever increasing membership.
Five members attended the Regional Summer School near York and enjoyed themselves immensely.
Autism: A departure from the usual U3A events was the two day course held in November on Autism given by the international expert Phoebe Caldwell. When Phoebe offered to do this after moving to Limestone View it was too good an opportunity to miss. The subject was the communication with those on the Autistic Spectrum. Over fifty people attended each session which were open to all. Parents, grandparents and carers came from over a wide area.
Short videos were shown of Phoebe engaging in Intensive Interaction with those who have no speech by making similar sounds to those which they use. Other useful information on how to assist in the lives of those with Autism was also given.
Many thanks were given to Phoebe for her time and commitment and to members who gave invaluable assistance on the two days. These sessions were arranged by Gill Rawlings who has a son with Autism and wished that this information had been available when he was born in 1970.
Monthly Meetings: Our monthly meetings continued with interesting talks and with a wide variety of subjects. The committee continues to review the monthly meetings and welcome comments and ideas from members. Christmas: It was agreed that our Christmas Social this year was one of the best to date. Members were entertained by some of the braver groups: French Conversation (le Brexit), Singing for Pleasure, Ukulele Players, Exercise, Circle Dancing, Family History and Play Reading.
Website: Many thanks to Paul Cochrane who continues to twitch and tweak and improve our excellent website. To those members who don’t visit it, you don’t know what you are missing! There is so much interesting information on there from group activities to National and Regional news.
The U3A Beacon System: Since we have had a website, David Holdsworth has provided us with software to enable the Membership Secretary and the Group Coordinator to store and manipulate your information and members have been able to see the Group information and renew membership on-line. This has worked well with some help from David but is reliant solely upon David’s expertise. In order to ensure that we can keep an IT system running and maintained into the future the committee has looked at several options and decided to use a system created by U3A volunteers nationally which has been made available to U3A groups throughout the country over the last few years. Over 100 groups are now using it and the volunteers are still developing aspects of the software and responding to suggestions for improvements. Some of the maintenance has now been contracted out to a software company and as a consequence we are paying a levy of 50p per member to generate a support fund held nationally. This amount is reviewed by the National U3A so that a fund of money to support the system is adequate.
After transferring last year’s data and doing some testing we went live with the system from the start of July this year. It is being used for membership and group information only at this stage but has the ability to include the accounting side as well.
We decided not to implement the accounting as our treasurer has his own system that is working well and is readily transferrable to another treasurer if needed. There have been a few minor teething problems but Keith and Debi are happy with the operation of the system so far. Members now have access to their own information which they can change, if necessary, through a ‘Members Portal’; they are also able to join groups online and renew membership online when needed. The schedule of meetings is also available as a calendar. The only aspects of David’s system we are still using are for the booking of equipment by group leaders and the week’s schedule of group meetings. David is still looking after the hosting of the website on a server at Giggleswick School for which we are very grateful.
If anyone has any suggestions for the improvement of the new system then please let Keith Waterson know. Similarly Keith will be willing to help if users are having problems with using the system.
My thanks (on your behalf) go to all the committee members, group leaders, tea ladies, and every member who gives of their spare time and commitment to make Settle District U3A the ongoing excellent organisation it is.
Finally – Ian has completed his two year term as Chairman and is stepping down from the committee. We shall all be sorry to see him go. He has held us all together at committee meetings with enthusiasm and humour. Our grateful thanks go to Ian who has worked with dedication behind the scenes on our behalf in so many different ways. Let’s hope that 2017/18 will turn out to be another successful year for Settle District U3A – and my thanks to you all for your support.
Anne Webster: 14 September 2017
This has been another busy year for Settle U3A with an increasing no of members and a record no of groups in operation involving new activities and trips.
Our membership grew to 324 members over the year and we welcomed over 50 new members and we held a well attended new members meeting in April this year
We have had 34 groups in operation with regular favourites retaining a faithful and growing following. It is difficult to give a full mention to them all many attract small but dedicated followers. Singing for Pleasure, Circle Dancing, Line Dancing, Exercise and Geology continue to attract large support. Other groups such as Poetry Appreciation, Great Lives, French, Art Appreciation and Looking at Old Buildings and Philosophy all have a faithful following. There has been an interesting development in physical activities this year with a weekly Badminton and Table Tennis group meeting in Langcliffe Village Hall and a fortnightly Yoga group and the Walking group maintains a regular weekly programme of walks which cater for all abilities. Other new groups this year have included a Painting Group and one looking at the Three Abrahamic Faiths. More recently a Lunch Group has successfully started. This year we add Sociology and Spanish for beginners to the list.
The monthly meetings have continued throughout the year with an attendance of between 60 – 120. Speakers have presented a wide variety of topics. These have included The Chinese Education System, the History of the Mobile Phone, Pub Signs and talks on Beatrix Potter and Lady ‘Randy’ Churchill. The Christmas Social reverted back to a participation event with 8 groups performing and this was much enjoyed by a record audience filling the Victoria Hall to its full capacity.
We have continued to have the full use of the Victoria Hall for our monthly meetings and for many of our group meetings with some groups such as the Book Group and Card Making meeting in private homes and others making use of the Friends Meeting House when necessary. We are fortunate to have the use of such a good range of facilities.
This year we have experimented with a ‘coffee rota’ to provide refreshments at the Thursday meetings and this has mainly worked well – thanks to everyone who offered help and please can we have more volunteers for next year!
During this year we have been concerned to look at the ways in which we enable participation from all our members and in the course of the year the committee discussed and passed a welfare statement. One important aspect of full participation is to ensure that the hearing loop in the VH works with our microphones and this has certainly taken time to sort out. We have purchased one speaker and a mixer box to improve the rather ageing amplification systems in the VH and we hope that VH will be successful in the future in getting funding to upgrade these facilities.
The committee have been discussing our web based information and investigating potential new systems to increase accessibility and a decision has been made to go over to a new web- facility being promoted by the National U3A organisation. We are currently on the waiting list for ‘migration’.
There has been a lot of activity in our region this year. Jackie Allott has been actively involved in all the developments. A network of local U3As -West Net – has been formed to include Ilkley and District, Settle, Bradford, Craven, Keighley U3A’s. West Net now has an agreement that members of the individual U3A’s can attend groups in other U3A without having to pay additional membership fees. Several successful events have already been arranged with a second Quiz night being arranged for September 20th in Ilkley.
Thirty three members of Settle U3A went by coach to the Regional Showcase Event at Askham Bryan in August with 10,000 U3A members attending. Our Singing for Pleasure group gave a bravura performance, but our painters were rather less impressed with the arrangements for displaying their efforts.
Last year we recorded our thanks to Hilary Baker as she stood down from our committee after being a founder member of Settle U3A and giving many years of service to us. Earlier this year she was added to the National U3A Roll of Honour in recognition of her wider service to the National and Regional U3A movement and we presented her with a certificate at the April Meeting.
We must also record our thanks to Alison Tyas, as she retires from her post as Resident Friend at the Friends Meeting House. In this role she has collected and banked the group subscription money on a weekly basis and given much informal and generous support to our activities.
Thanks to all members of the committee who contributed to the successful running of the organisation and have taken on the myriad of jobs to be done with mainly smiles and the occasional sigh! Nita Hart stands down after a stint as chairperson and committee member. I too will be standing down now after my three year stint which has been mostly interesting and as an off cumber to Settle in 2012 has made me a lot of friends very quickly. Thank you.
This is my second year as secretary of Settle U3A and hopefully I have settled into my role and even improved some of my skills (though there is still room for improvement!)
The year has been a busy one for all members of our committee and for our army of group leaders with a significant increase in membership, new groups on offer, a busy monthly speaker programme and many different outings and visits arranged on many different topics. We continue to move forward in our efforts to increase web based communication between members with information about regional and national activities and training events and summaries of our committee meetings available on line.
As well as our local activities we are part of an active national and regional U3A organisation, though geographically Settle U3A remains rather isolated from national activities which tend to be focussed on the London area. One of our members, Jean Stevens judged the regional poetry competition which involved reading through ? number of entries
As we go into the new U3A year we are offering 34 groups for people to enrol in . Long standing favourites such as Singing for Pleasure, Gentle Exercise, Circle Dancing,Walking, Geology, Looking at Old Buildings, Philosophy, Great Lives Languages and many more (apologies for not mentioning them all!) have been joined by new groups such as Badminton and Table Tennis, Painting, Play Reading, The 3Abrahamic Religions , Science and Poetry Appreciation has made a welcome comeback.
Different groups have been on a variety of trips across the region examples include Old Buildings to the Leeds synagogue, Art Appreciation to the Whitworth Art Gallery and Lindisfarne for the Geology ‘field trip’ (again in glorious and unseasonal April sunshine). We entered a photograph of this trip for the national U3A magazine entitled ‘The Old Rockers’
Settle U3A is fortunate to be able to use the facilities of Victoria Hall for the majority of our group activities. We are grateful to the staff, Anne and Alan and the committee of Victoria Hall for making this possible.
All our groups are free to find their own way of operating which suits members best. All groups must rely on their own resources and no one can be paid for their input.We must acknowledge and thank our group leaders who all put in extensive efforts and enthusiasm into co-ordinating, researching and servicing the groups because without their input and commitment we wouldn’t operate at all
Our monthly meetings has been well attended with between 70 – 100 attendees and the programme has included a variety of speakers from around the region and on a wide range of topics covering historical, wild life and current and local issues. We are aiming to get a better system of feedback for these sessions and are asking people to complete a questionnaire about last year’s programme so that we can undertake a proper review at the end of this year. Thanks must go to Debbie and Gill for organising this programme and ensuring it runs smoothly ( perhaps with the odd hiccup of IT and microphone issues).
Thanks must also go to Michael and Margaret Cullingworth for their long standing service in the kitchen serving coffee at monthly meetings. Next year we are now moving to a coffee rota with people working in pairs and we are always grateful for more names for this.
Finally thanks must go to the committee members who fulfil many different functions to keep Settle U3A afloat. Our treasurer John Parry who as ever keep us ‘in balance’ with a tight hold on the finances, but with occasional largesse available for new equipment or free coffee! Alison Tyas for stepping in as interim chairperson for this year whilst new people were ‘trained up’.
Chris Taylor, our newsletter editor, has done an excellent job in introducing a new format for the newsletter (perhaps not an entirely welcomed by everyone!) and she regularly struggles with a very varied range of input (some peoples idea of ‘no more than 150 words’ is widely interpreted!) as well as the committees demands for last minute notices and must do’s.
Keith Waterson, Paul Cochrane, Frank Woodhams and David Holdsworth have all put much effort into continuing the long process of making Settle U3A move into the digital age which has not been without its problems. We are grateful for their efforts even though some of us get quite confused and muddled at times.
Paul steps down this year from the committee after stirling work as groups’ organisor and hands the baton over to Debi Burridge who in turn hands her programme and publicity roles to Gill and Nita. Frank Woodhams will shortly step down from his role as ‘web master’ and Paul has offered to take this role on – a glutton for punishment some would say.
Hilary Baker also steps down after six years on the committee having been a valued link with the Regional committee as well as ensuring that the paper copies of the newsletter get distributed.
Thanks to all those on the committee and group leaders who are ‘retiring’ from ‘active service. We look forward to welcoming new committee members and group leaders and look forward to another successful year in 2015\16.
This is my first report as secretary of Settle U3A (and I apologise for not reading it in person, thanks Debi). The year has been a steep learning curve learning my role, improving my minute taking and organisational skills,and getting to know the full and impressive range of the activities and people that make up Settle U3A.I have been helped in my work by the other members of the committee, some have had long experience and others who are just ahead of me in expertise!
Our membership has remained steady at just under 300 members. We have developed a new members pack, improved access to membership on line and held a new members coffee morning in the course of the year to welcome new members and to hear their views about our activities and encourage their particpation in the future.
We have run over 30 successful groups with several new ones being offered in the course of the year. The U3A ethos of participation and sharing is very apparent in the these groups where people share their enthusiasm and expertise with others who choose to learn more. Paul Cochrane has continued to co-ordinate these activities and to patiently support group leaders in using our new computer equipment. Many groups have travelled widely to further their interests in walking, old buildings, and art appreciation. The walking and geology groups coincided with reasonable success in a trip to Anglesey in May and were lucky in experiencing the beginning of this summers good weather. The Singing for Pleasure is broadening its influence with singing events at Airedale Hospital and soon at ……?? We held a lunch for all our group leaders in April to thank them for their time and effort in making this key activity of the U3A work so well.
Our monthly meetings have continued throughout this year with mostly excellent attendence for a wide variety of speakers co-ordinated and booked by Gill Rawlings and Debi Burridge. I have been surprised by the variety of topics covered at these meeting including the History of the Gardens at Bolton Abbey, Hypnosis, Bell Ringing, Wild Life Photography and Inventions. I have often felt only dutiful in my attendance at these meetings, especially on a cold winters morning, but have come away surprised and entertained by these speakers and know other people who feel the same. We should also record our thanks here to the Cullingworths who have faithfully delivered our refreshments each month and are even prepared to continue for another year. The committee continue to review the monthly meetings and welcome comments and ideas from members. One suggestion we have considered this year is running brief ‘pop up’ discussions on topics of immediate local interest. The demise of the Pennine bus service was one such topic, U3A made representations to our MP and Councillors and currently support the new arrangements made. The ‘pop up’ idea remains a possibility in the future.
At the beginning of our year last September we were saddened to hear of the death of Roy Gillson, our Treasurer, after a long illness. We would like to put on record our appreciation for the work he undertook for our organisation. John Parry our assistant treasurer was subsequently elected into the role of Treasurer and has kept a close eye on our finances throughout the year ensuring we maximise our resources at the bank, collect the fees owing and helping the committee to review its financial decisions. He has been successful in maintaining our subscription rate for a second year, again made possible by the donations by many members and our reclaiming Gift Aid. We will pay a slightly higher fee for the use of Victoria Hall this next year but remain grateful for its use and share the concern of many others in Settle at the news that its grant form Craven District Council has been cut.
Nita Hart completes her two year term as chairperson this September and thanks must go to her for working hard on our behalf in so many different ways. She is usually the one to have checked our constitution or our rules for committee procedure and has maintained good liaison with the Victoria Hall and ensured the details of our use of it run smoothly. She has tried to visit many of our groups in the course of the year as well as attending regional events. She has also been an enthusiastic advocate for the U3A on line courses which expands the potential of U3A learning. We express our thanks to Nita for taking on the duties of chairperson at rather short notice and for carrying them out so competently.
Sue Simpson and Derek Hewitson step down from the committee this year and we thank them for their contributions to the committee over the past few years. Sue handed over her duites as newsletter editor to Chris Taylor at the end of 2013 and she has embraced her new role with enthusiasm and flair ie colour! The committee have reviewed the newsletter in the course of the year looking at its funtion and content in some detail and it will have a new format.
Finally I would like to thank all the people who have worked hard to improve our ‘on line’ facilities. As a committee we know that some members prefer to stick with paper methods of communication, but increasingly there is time saved by investing in on line communication as more of us embrace this new technology. We can now get membership renewal forms, membership packs, newsletters, resumes of committee minutes, resumes of national and regional news, links to national information, photographs of our walks and many other things through our website. We have also developed email links for the newsletter and membership renewal to all members on line. Thanks must go to our long suffering ‘web master’ Frank Woodham and to Paul Cochrane, Keith Waterhouse and David Holdsworth for undertaking the work necessary to make this happen.
Lets hope 2014\15 will turn out to be another successful year for Settle U3A and thank you all for your support.
Pat Taylor August 13.8.14
This has been another busy year for Settle U3A with new members joining us throughout the year so that we numbered 300 at the end of April. The Committee has dealt with information from National and Regional offices as well as ironing out problems locally – not least the temperamental projector that had finally to be replaced, much to everyone’s relief!
As usual our finances have been carefully watched during the year to make sure we are able to pay our way and make best use of our income. We have been able to keep the minimum annual subscription and also the group session meetings the same as last year. The generosity of many members who choose to donate more than the basic subscription and/or Gift Aid the amount helps us to do this. Nita has kept in close contact with Trustees from the Victoria Hall during the year and has managed to keep our monthly fee as low as possible. I know you all appreciate the convenience of being able to meet here and that feeling is reciprocated by the staff and Trustees of Victoria Hall.
At last year’s AGM Nita Hart bravely offered to stand as Chairman, after only having been co-opted onto the committee the previous January “to see what happens”. She has done a great job in chairing committee meetings, introducing visitors at our speaker meetings and especially in ironing out issues with Victoria Hall. She always remains calm and supportive of everyone on the committee and, I’m pleased to say, has agreed to stand as Chairman again for another year.
I think Debi has worn nearly every ‘hat’ on the committee this year, except Secretary! As well as being our Vice-Chairman, she has distributed the posters, organised the speakers for next year’s monthly meetings, hosted all our committee meetings and acted as Treasurer when Roy has been unable to put in an appearance. She has been unfailingly cheerful and efficient in all her roles and we thank her for that.
This is Pat Smith’s final appearance as our Membership Secretary, a job she has done extremely well for the past 5 years. During that time our numbers have risen from 238 to 300. Our thanks go to Pat for all her work on the committee and also for recruiting her replacement, Keith Waterson, and guiding him into the role.
At our last AGM Sue Simpson indicated that she would be looking for someone to take over as newsletter editor. Almost at the last minute a replacement has been found and Sue has agreed to stay on as editor for a while to ease the changeover. Our attractive newsletters are important for giving information as well as offering reports on events. We are pleased that so many of you are able to receive the newsletter online to keep our printing costs as low as possible.
One of our most popular interest groups is Geology and Paul Cochrane, the group leader, has not only led another successful few days away in Whitby but also led one of the Regional Summer School study groups. This was on top of his work as our Groups Co-ordinator. He has liaised with Frank Woodhams, our webmaster, to improve the information about our interest groups and make sure that group leaders can be contacted by those considering joining. Our website is increasingly the first port of call for many prospective members and I think we are lucky to have such an able person to run it and keep it looking so attractive.
Our small social committee has continued to organise twice yearly theatre trips and a summer lunch and we are grateful for their interest and care in doing this for our benefit.
All those who lead or facilitate our groups are to be commended for their hard work. Some of them have taken that role for many years, while others have started new groups. The ethos of the U3A is about all the members contributing and you don’t have to be an expert to lead a group. One of the exciting things about the U3A is the opportunity to gather a few interested people together and learn as you go along, sharing ideas and working together. So if you have an idea for a new group don’t hesitate to publicise it in the newsletter and see who else is interested. The committee will support you in every way. It doesn’t have to be a long-lasting group, a few sessions may be all you need. So don’t be shy! Once a year the committee organises a tea and chat time to meet new members and find out their thoughts about how our U3A caters for their interests. The committee was pleased to meet up with many of our group leaders and co-ordinators in November, partly to thank them for their hard work but also to exchange ideas and suggestions for keeping our U3A vibrant. At our August meeting some new and interesting suggestions were made for new groups so let’s all work together to make them happen.
To finish on a personal note. I moved to Settle four years ago when I retired, knowing nobody, and the first thing I did was join the U3A as a way of getting to meet new people and to give me plenty to do. It was the best thing I ever did and certainly fulfilled my wishes. As many of you know, as a result of my husband’s job move, I am now living in Bradford and so no longer able to take an active role in Settle U3A. I want to say thank you to everyone who has made me so welcome and who has given me the chance to lead an interesting and fulfilling time over the past four years through the U3A. I know you will all continue to support the committee and the groups to make Settle U3A one of the best in the country. Thank you.
I would like to start by thanking all the committee for their support over the past year as I got to grips with the many and varied tasks it seems a secretary has to deal with. I would particularly like to thank Debi, who, for various reasons, has had another challenging year but has been unfailingly cheerful and business-like in carrying out her role.
As in previous years, the committee has had to spend time looking at our financial affairs to ensure that we are able to pay our way but still keep our charge to members as low as possible. Thanks to the generosity of many members, who added a significant donation to their basic subscription, we have been able to keep our minimum annual subscription rate the same as last year and the tax reclaimed on Gift Aided subscriptions has also helped. Our Treasurer, Roy, and Chairman, Debi, have been in close contact with the Victoria Hall over several months to ensure that we get best value for money as a regular user of the Hall. These conversations are continuing!
A sub-committee spent some time looking at the new model constitution to see if we needed or wanted to make any changes to our current constitution. There are some good aspects of the new version, particularly the clearer language but there are some sections of our constitution we don’t want to change. The review is ongoing.
Pat Smith has continued to do a great job as our membership secretary and has been busy enrolling new members throughout the year. The online membership renewal system has helped to reduce the paperwork. Pat has agreed to carry on as membership secretary for another year but is looking to train up someone else to take over from her at the next AGM.
Sue Simpson is also looking for someone to take over the newsletter at the end of this current year. She and Elizabeth Evans have worked well together to produce the monthly sheet which is so important in providing us with information about our various group activities and events. We know many of you now receive the newsletter online and this has helped to reduce our production costs. If anyone still has difficulties finding the newsletter online do please ask one of the committee for help.
Unfortunately, for personal reasons, John Flitcroft was unable to attend many committee meetings this year and he has decided not to stand again for election. We’d like to thank John for his contribution to the committee, particularly in setting up our Gift Aid registration in 2010-11.
Early in 2012 we were able to persuade Nita Hart to be co-opted onto the committee and she has already proved her value. I’m pleased to say she is prepared to stand for election today.
Hilary Baker has once again done sterling work on our behalf as our Regional and National Representative. She has attended many meetings and been fully involved in the planning of the Askham Bryan ‘Big Bash’ to celebrate the 30th birthday of U3A. Our Singing for Pleasure, Line Dance and Circle Dance groups were contributors to the event, as was Wendy Newby’s card making. As I write this, late afternoon on the day of this regional event (15th August), it is hammering down with rain so I’m hoping that everyone who took part or attended was safely on the way home before the deluge began! [I think this was the case for most people!]
It was, of course, our 10th birthday this year so in July we celebrated in style with tea and cakes, lots of cakes! Driven indoors (into St Alkelda’s) by the weather, we were nevertheless able to have a fun afternoon with local and regional guests enjoying our exhibition and the delicious boozy birthday cakes made by Debi and Margaret Cullingworth. If you weren’t there, you missed a treat.
Additional social events have again been organised by our social committee. In October we had our regular trip to the Theatre at Keswick to see Noel Coward’s “Hayfever” and in January we saw “Timing” by Alistair McGowan at the Playhouse Theatre in Ilkley. The summer outing this year was to Richmond and included a very interesting tour of the Georgian Theatre, and more recently many of us enjoyed a lunch at the Plough in Wigglesworth. We thank Janet and Shirley for organising these delightful events for us.
Our interest groups have continued to flourish, often taking themselves outdoors to visit places of interest. In April the walking group took a three night trip to the Peak District, where they encountered some of the very wet weather that has been a feature of so much of this year. The geology group’s visit to Shropshire had to be postponed but will be taking place very soon. The Singing for Pleasure group has recently taken part in a Gospel singing workshop in Leeds. We are indebted to those who organise such trips which add so much to our interest and enthusiasm. Some members of the Art Appreciation group attended a Regional study day in Sheffield entitled “A family well disposed”. It is good to know that Settle U3A is supporting regional events.
Our monthly meetings here in Victoria Hall have once again brought in a variety of speakers to interest and engage us. We have to thank Alan Hemsworth for organising the visits of these speakers. Alan has now handed over the reins of this job to the committee and we are grateful for all his hard work in bringing such diverse speakers to our meetings.
One innovation from the committee this year was to invite new members for coffee and chat in March. This gave us the opportunity to find out about their interests and gave them the chance to meet the committee and put forward any suggestions they had for possible new groups. We hope this opportunity will continue.
And finally, without our loyal and hardworking band of group leaders we would not be able to continue in our task of being “a self-help educational movement for people in their third age”. I think they deserve our very grateful thanks.
As this is the fourth and final time I shall deliver the Annual Report, perhaps I may start on a personal note.
I joined Settle District U3A 6 years ago when I retired from the teaching profession. A month after joining I responded to a plea from Janet Stafford, Chairman at the time and agreed to be co-opted onto the committee as Minutes Secretary. Committee work, even the vocabulary, was quite new to me. A short while afterwards, George Pattison, a fellow committee member, confessed that he had put my name forward for the position. George, for whom I had much respect and affection had come to Settle High School as a teacher when I was a sixth form pupil many, many years ago. “I told them,” said George ” you were a bright girl at school.” I crossed my fingers and did not tell George about the elderly gentleman to whom I deliver Meals on Wheels who, when I informed him that I was the pigtailed child who used to live across from him down Marshfield Road, gave me a long hard look and then exclaimed “By gum, you’ve changed!” Well ………..yes…….! Now, talking of change……..
In my early U3A days, I was responsible for the minutes whilst Genevieve Moss was the official Secretary who dealt with correspondence and related matters. I used to deliver the printed minutes on my bike. Now all committee members are online and I simply press the “Send” button on my computer. (Not that owning a computer is an essential requirement for a committee member, I hasten to add.) At that time I used to email the approved minutes to Frank Woodhams, our Webmaster who, within a trice, put them onto our website. You can imagine how quickly I honed my computer skills when I learned that Frank was a former Professor at the University of East Anglia where he specialized in microcomputing. Eventually the decision was taken not to publish the minutes on the website for all and sundry to access but to have a printed copy available to our members at the Thursday meetings. The fact that this file of minutes can hardly be described as “well thumbed” hopefully indicates our members’ trust and confidence in the committee.
So to the present. What are the issues that have concerned your committee during the past year? As is customary, alas, there was the initial problem of forming a committee with the necessary officers and members. It was with some reservations that Debi Burridge agreed to stand for the office of Chairman as she had many demands on her personal life and was to have more. She did not know just how many or how pressing these demands were to prove. On behalf of all of us I would like to thank and congratulate Debi for the valiant, cheerful and competent way she has dealt with the many tasks and problems she has had to face.
I know that Debi is, like the rest of us, immensely grateful to John Flitcroft, who, as Vice-Chairman, has given her stalwart support throughout the year. As in Debi’s case, John really had no idea of the pressures he would face this year, particularly with regard to the beleaguered question of fees and finance. John was responsible for gathering the facts about our current use of the Victoria Hall – facts that revealed how unrealistic and out of date were our payments. John, aided by a sub-committee, also took on the valuable task of leading us through our application for Gift Aid. As you know, the application was successful and comes into operation this year.
Two years ago we were on the brink of winding up Settle District U3A because no one was willing to take on the office of Treasurer. Jackie Pemberton bravely stepped into the rescue to everyone’s relief and gratitude. For two years Jackie has dealt competently and conscientiously with our finances. I think though, that Jackie herself uttered a small sigh of relief when this year Roy Gillson offered to stand for office. I am told that there was no coercion even though he is married to the Chairman! Our grateful thanks to both Jackie and Roy.
Leaving the committee this time after completing three years’ service are Chris Stephens and David Holdsworth. As Publicity Officer, Chris has produced the eyecatching posters which every month appear in 40 different places, and on our website. She also puts publicity material in the library, the TIC and other appropriate places and keeps the Craven Herald and Community News informed of our activities. We need someone to take over these tasks. It does not have to be a member of the committee.
David’s role as Groups Co-coordinator is being taken over by committee member Paul Cochrane who, as a group leader himself, is aware of possible problems and queries that might arise. David has worked diligently to increase the use of our excellent website for disseminating information. Pat Smith, our membership secretary, has particularly appreciated David’s help in setting up the means for enrolling and registering for groups online.
Sue Simpson, who has also completed her three-year term on the committee, has agreed to stand again and to continue her admirable work in producing our monthly Newsletter. Sue has received cheerful and unfailing support from Elizabeth Evans, who is not a committee member but has always stepped in whenever other duties have demanded Sue’s time. Elizabeth is also responsible for printing the Newsletter every month. We thank them both.
Pat Smith, our hard working membership secretary has likewise come to the end of her 3-year term as a committee member. At the last count we had over 300 members so Pat has certainly been kept busy. Pat is willing to stand again for the committee. She and Sue are joined by Derek Hewitson who has also agreed to stand again after three years of duty during which time Derek has been our IT Officer.
A former committee member who deserves huge thanks is Alan Hemsworth who was largely responsible for arranging not only the last programme of speakers but also the one for the coming year. I am sure you will agree that we had an excellent range of speakers last year and if you look the programme on your new membership card you will see that Alan has given us much to look forward to, not least one of his own inimitable talks in November. We are grateful to Margaret and Michael Cullingworth for serving coffee at our monthly meetings and thereby enhancing the social aspect.
Thanks are also due to Janet Stafford and Shirley Wolfenden for organizing such an interesting and convivial social programme. In September last year they arranged a splendid Get Together at the Falcon Manor. There have been theatre outings to Ilkley Playhouse and the Theatre by the Lake at Keswick giving members chance to see first-rate productions of What the Butler saw, Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Hamlet. There was also an enjoyable summer outing to Lyme Park. In addition, Shirley was responsible for devising the quiz at last year’s Christmas Social where once again, the in house entertainment showed what talented, diverse groups we have.
Different groups have been out and about. The popular Looking at Old Buildings Group has had privileged access to some fine places such as Farnley Hall, home of the Fawkes family, yes, Guy Fawkes, and the Glaziers’ Hall at York Minster. The Heraldry Group has visited Samlesbury Hall
The Art Appreciation Group has been to Abbot Hall and Leeds Art gallery and is now preparing to go to the recently opened Hepworth gallery in Wakefield. The Geology Group has been to Cliffe Castle. The Walking Groups have, by their very nature constantly walked over hill and dale but this year they literally and metaphorically broke new ground with a residential visit to Whitby where I gather there was as much talking as walking! Members of the Circle dance group have danced in Langwathby, Kendal and Ilkley whilst members of Ilkley U3A have come to dance with us at Langcliffe.
We have always been proud of our association with Frank Pedley, who as well as being a founding father of the National U3A and of Keighley U3A played such an important part in founding our own U3A. He was a constant reminder that we are part of a nationwide movement
Hilary Baker continues to maintain our standing at National and Regional levels by representing us at conferences and being a member of the regional committee. Next August the Yorkshire and Humberside Region, (of which we are part) is holding a showcase event at Askham Bryan College. The circle dance group has already expressed an interest in participating. Any other group wishing to be involved should contact Hilary.
The strength of every U3A lies in its Group Leaders. We are fortunate in having a diversity of backgrounds and skills so wide that we can offer 32 groups covering almost the entire alphabet from Art Appreciation to Walking. This year we have two new groups-“Continuing Spanish” led by Linda Martingell and “Landscapes and Townscapes” led by Tony Stephens
I began on a personal note and will end in similar vein. Settle U3A has played a very important part in giving me a full and rewarding retirement. I have made new friends, practised new skills, listened to stimulating speakers, visited interesting places. Being both secretary and a group leader has enhanced my involvement and my sense of belonging to a very worthwhile organization. Long may it flourish!
Everyone who came to our Coffee and Chat meeting last month could see at a glance that Settle District U3A is thriving. Despite the fact that 54 members had already enrolled on our new online system and despite careful organizational planning, the queue to enroll stretched to the door of the Victoria Hall. 28 new members had joined by the end of the morning and more enrolments have been steadily coming in for the past month, Prior to our meeting today, the membership for the coming year had already reached 200.
To think that last year on this occasion, when we had received not a single nomination for the office of Treasurer, it was suggested that we may have to disband our U3A altogether! At the eleventh hour, Jackie Pemberton stood up at the AGM and bravely volunteered. The whole room heaved a sigh of relief. We are immensely grateful to Jackie who has done an excellent job this year ensuring that our finances are in a healthy state as well as sanctioning the purchase of a new computer. No-one has yet risked reminding Jackie how long Shirley Wolfenden held the office!
Last September we welcomed John Flitcroft onto the committee and a short while afterwards Hilary Baker was co-opted. Hilary has a vast knowledge and experience of the U3A movement and of committee work and is always willing to attend meetings at regional and national level. Indeed she is representing us at the National AGM in Cirencester even as I speak. A short while ago I was on the phone to National Office in London and Hilary’s name came up. “Oh yes!” I was assured, “We know Hilary”. Thank you, Hilary, for putting us on the map!
Of course we are also well known nationally through our longstanding association with Frank Pedley. Frank, alas, like several of our members, has experienced health problems this year and the committee was saddened when we received his letter resigning from the position of Life President of Settle District U3A. Wanting to recognise and honour all that he has done, but also wanting to free him from an executive role and duties, David Holdsworth proposed that we invite Frank to become either a Life Fellow or Life Member of Settle District U3A. Frank himself suggested the title of Honorary Member Emeritus, a boost for our Latin scholars. The committee readily agreed.
This time we say “Farewell” to both our Chairman John Jebson, and our Vice-Chairman, Alan Hemsworth.
For the past two years John has been a hard-working and proactive Chairman. Now perhaps he will have time to join some of the groups he has so diligently visited, not in the role of Ofsted inspector, but in order to acquaint himself fully with the scope and enterprise of our 30+ splendid and varied groups. John has also spent time visiting other U3A s and, even when on holiday earlier this year, he did not relax his vigilance, returning to the next committee meeting with a flyer about Wigtownshire U3A which he thought may be of interest to us! Last year, when the Victoria Hall was in grave danger of closing, John was positive and powerful in voicing his concerns. With a number of our members, he went to Skipton, to a meeting of the Craven District Council where he was permitted to speak. He and other protagonists won the day and here we are right now, in this very special building which means so much to us as an organization and to Settle district as a community.
As well as losing our Chairman, we are, alas, no longer to have his right hand man, our Vice-Chairman Alan on our committee. I know that John will wish to express his own thanks to Alan. On behalf of the committee, I would like to say how much we have enjoyed Alan’s unique wit and wisdom at our committee meetings in addition to the wonderful talks he has given at our Thursday meetings. To have such a talented speaker on our team is indeed an honour. Alan has also been responsible, with a little help from Pat Smith and David Holdsworth, for planning and organizing last year’s speakers and those for the year ahead! I can assure you that this is no mean task. I’m sure everyone will agree that the quality and variety of monthly talks has been excellent. In addition to all this, Alan finds the time to run the Madrigal group.
A great deal of behind the scenes work goes on to ensure the smooth running of our U3A and every one of our 13 strong committee contributes. At our monthly meetings our officers and co-ordinators give their reports and pertinent matters are discussed. The minutes are displayed at our monthly meetings together with communications from National Office. Work goes on throughout the month, particularly for Chris Stephens who produces excellent posters for each meeting and for any extra publicity events such as the one we held in Booth’s foyer during National Awareness week. Also busy throughout each month, but especially as deadline approaches, are Sue Simpson and Elizabeth Evans who together are responsible for publishing and printing the monthly Newsletter, a task very few would choose to tackle.
This year, Margaret Cullingworth ends her three-year term on the committee but has kindly offered to continue to make coffee at the Thursday meetings.
Two former committee officers who continue year after year to do a stalwart and much appreciated job are Janet Stafford and Shirley Wolfenden who organize and run our highly successful social outings and events. This year there have been theatre outings to Keswick for Alan Ayckbourne’s play ” A Chorus of Disapproval” and to Ilkley for “Going Straight” by Richard Harris. Janet and Shirley also organized an enjoyable tour of Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, and a fascinating excursion combining Nostell Priory and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Later this month there is a get-together at the Falcon Manor, following the success of a similar event at the same venue last September. Mention of our social activities would be incomplete without thanking the host of members who contributed in one way or another to our splendid Christmas party, which certainly set the festive ball rolling in style.
On behalf of the committee, I would also like to thank Alison Tyas, a former committee member who continues to work tirelessly behind the scenes cheerfully doing countless tasks, which ensure the smooth running of our U3A.
Our website continues to flourish under the expert hand (or should I say “mouse”?) of Frank Woodhams, our Webmaster. Our Group Organiser, David Holdsworth, is another computer wizard, responsible for devising this year’s virtually foolproof systems for online registration and enrolment. Pat Smith, our membership secretary whose workload is particularly heavy at this time of year, is very grateful to all those members who actually did register and enroll online. Everything anyone needs to know about Settle District U3A can be found on our website. You can read the Newsletter, investigate the groups and receive up to the minute bulletins about groups, meetings and events.
As a group leader I know something of the commitment, hard work and preparation which go towards the group meetings. We now have 32 different groups. All of our group leaders are volunteers who work in a variety of ways, some as teachers, some as co-ordinators, some as enablers. Some share the role of leader, others take sole responsibility. Whatever their modus operandi they are the very centre of our U3A and we thank every one of them. This year we are delighted to welcome two new group leaders, offering two new subjects. Pam Elstub is running a course on Relaxation for Health and Well-being whilst Rowena Magdan is leading a jewellery- making course.
Every now and then there is discussion at national or local level about our title “U3A” – “University of the Third Age”. It has been suggested that “University” is too lofty and academic a name for what we hope is a friendly and welcoming organization, addressing the mental, physical and social needs of those no longer in full-time employment. This was touched upon at one of our committee meetings. Derek Hewitson made a very fitting comment. He said, “When people ask me what the “U” stands for in U3A, I tell them it stands for YOU”. What an excellent maxim! The U3A is an organization which exists for YOU, to benefit YOU. Above all, your U3A needs YOU!
When Settle District U3A formally came into existence on September 12th 2002 there were 64 members and 14 groups. Since then there has been a steady increase in membership and in the number of groups. We now have approximately 300 members and 34 groups. Over the years, the groups have varied in response to the interests of members. Last year, with the approval of National Office and our own membership, a small change was made to the wording of a clause in our constitution to accommodate those groups, such as the dance and exercise, the bias of which is physical rather than intellectual. With a range of groups now covering such varied topics as philosophy, art appreciation, madrigal singing, family history and circle dance we can surely claim, in line with our constitution, that we are advancing the education of those no longer in gainful employment and, at the same time, providing leisure and recreational activities.
Last September we appointed a new Chairman, a new Vice Chairman and 5 new committee members. Hilary Baker, Pat Dewey and Alison Tyas had been members of the original steering committee and had continued to serve for the following 6 years. Pam Servant had likewise served on the committee for the full 6 years and had edited the Newsletter whilst Shirley Wolfenden had held the office of Treasurer right from the start and was looking forward, like the retiring committee members, to handing over to someone else. However, for Shirley, it was not to be, as no one was willing to stand for the office of Treasurer. We were immensely grateful to Shirley for agreeing, at the AGM, the eleventh hour, to stand again, but she stipulated, for one year only. We all thank her sincerely for her hard work, her efficiency, and her unflappability throughout the years. She has been an excellent treasurer. Our finances are healthy, with money already ear-marked for the purchase of a new laptop. Although the annual enrolment fee has increased to £12, mainly to accommodate the proposed increase in the subscription payable to National Office, the 50p cost of individual group meetings remains unchanged.
Shirley will continue, with Janet Stafford, to organize our very popular social calendar which again, last year, started in style with a visit to the Theatre in the Lakes to see
” Arsenic and Old Lace” and was rounded off splendidly, last week, with dinner and entertainment at the Falcon Manor.
An eagerly awaited event was the Christmas Social. The new committee decided a few changes were called for and, in particular, there should be more involvement from our members. As a result, as well as our customary and enjoyable quiz, we were agreeably entertained with music, song, recitation and the French group’s memorable Piece de Resistance “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge”.
Michael Cullingworth, the unforgettable and saucy grandmother of the French Group’s Christmas Tour de Force reappeared 3 month’s later at our monthly meeting, this time in his own clothes, to give us a fascinating talk on the history of pantomime. Other in-house speakers this year were Alan Hemsworth and John Chapman. We are very pleased and proud to have such talented speakers in our midst. Bill Mitchell, the renowned local author, came to speak about Beatrix Potter whilst speakers “from away” spoke on a variety of topics.
The monthly general meeting gives us a chance to get together as well as the opportunity to hear some excellent speakers but it is probably true to say that the main strength of our U3A lies in the many and varied groups. For 50p per session one could be busily involved almost every day of the week.
Many groups have been out and about. The Art Appreciation Group has been to Abbot Hall in Kendal, the Peter Scott Gallery in Lancaster, the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate and Blackwell Arts and Crafts House. Our recent and most privileged visit was in August to the studio of Norman Adams in Horton. Meanwhile the Old Buildings group has been to East Riddlesden Hall, Slaidburn, Bramhope, Adel, and Wray. Family History has been to Chorley, the Heraldry Group has visited Bolton by Bowland church, Richmond and Staindrop churches and the walkers have walked, strode or strolled, in places far and near, ranging from Giggleswick, (strollers), to the Lake District, (striders). Members of the Circle Dance Group have trod measures in Penrith and Langwathby as well as enjoying a delightful workshop in Langcliffe, led by a visiting teacher from Cumbria. Shirley and Janet organized a theatre trip to Ilkley Playhouse to see “The talented Mr. Ripley” and the summer outing was to Raby Castle.
Most of our groups meet here at the Victoria Hall, in one or other of the different rooms. We have always recognized how fortunate we are in having this splendid, central meeting place so it came as a shock to learn in January of the high possibility of its imminent closure due to a financial shortfall of £10,000. The immediate threat was lifted by a number of donations but the grant funding from Craven District Council for the forthcoming financial year was still in grave doubt. Seven of our members, including four of the committee, went to the Council’s all-important Policy Committee meeting at Skipton. Our Chairman, John, was allowed to address the meeting for a few minutes to put our case, explaining how the Victoria Hall is vital to our organization for the kind of activities we are able to offer people in the Settle area. We were delighted when grant funding was approved for the next 3 years. On our behalf, John has made formal application for a place for one of our members on the Board of Trustees. So far this has not been possible but the matter is still in hand.
As Chairman, John has made it part of his job to visit different groups each month which has given him an insight into the diverse activities as well as enabling him to make a card, do some exercises, solve challenging mathematical puzzles and learn, amongst other things about the development of the camera obscura. (And YES, he did pay his 50p each!)John’s curiosity about U3A activities also led him to a meeting of Clitheroe U3A where he was welcomed by their Chairman. The two Chairmen were able to exchange useful information about group structure, fees and functioning.
We are very fortunate in having Hilary Baker, a former Chairman, very actively in our midst, willing and able to represent us at National and Regional meetings, thus ensuring that we are up to date in all U3A policies and decision making. Over the past two years, there has been considerable re-organisation at regional level. Our normal day-to-day functioning has not been affected. Suffice it to say that we are no longer part of the Cumbria Region but have joined the newly named Yorkshire Ridings Forum. Hilary, our intrepid representative, attended the inaugural meeting of the Yorkshire and Humberside Region and was rapidly voted onto the committee. In July she attended the Ridings Forum and in October she will represent us at the National Conference. We are also both fortunate and honoured in having Frank Pedley as our President and are grateful for all the wisdom, knowledge and experience he is able to share with us.
Our website goes from strength to strength. We are indebted to Frank Woodhams, our Webmaster and David Holdsworth, our Group Organiser for their expertise, enthusiasm and rapid response to any queries or problems that arise. Our members can now enroll and register for groups online as well as accessing the monthly Newsletter and all past Newsletters. The website also contains information about the groups and monthly meetings and has many useful links. You do not need to own a computer to benefit from the modern technology. Simply join our Computer Group or go to Settle Library and ask the librarian to help you access Settle U3A online. You will be amazed how easy it is.
Incidentally, if you do decide to access the monthly Newsletter online instead of receiving a hard copy, please let one of the committee know. This will help cut down our running costs as well as helping you to reduce your personal mountain of paper! Taking over production of the monthly newsletter from Pam Servant was a daunting task for Sue Simpson and Elizabeth Evans. Pam kindly helped smooth the takeover by giving of her time and expertise in the initial months. We thank Pam very much and at the same time congratulate Sue and Elizabeth on their achievement.
Thanks also to John, who has been a very pro-active Chairman this year and to all our committee, each of which has a specific role to ensure the smooth running of our U3A.
The final thanks go to our hard-working group leaders without whom our U3A could not function. Our membership numbers have risen steadily over the 6 years. The number of people offering to lead groups has not risen comparably. The continuing vitality of the U3A requires a steady flow of new blood so please don’t hide your light behind a bushel. You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to teach but simply be a willing co-ordinator.
Our vision for the future is one of continued growth, with new groups and new leaders to provide for changing needs, appropriate accommodation and resources, stimulating monthly meetings and enriching social events to be enjoyed by all our members.
Last September the National U3A celebrated its 25th anniversary whilst we ourselves celebrated our fifth. With a membership hovering around 250, 31 different groups, an exemplary website, an informative, well produced monthly Newsletter and a healthy balance in our accounts, it could well have been a time for self-congratulation and resting on our laurels.
We bid a fond farewell to Janet, who had so ably chaired the committee for 2 years. Then along came Tony Stephens, our new Chairman, a man with not one but several missions. Complacency was not to be! Changes were afoot.
One of Tony’s first aims was to formalise our arrangements with the Victoria Hall. Ever since its inception in 2002, Settle U3A has enjoyed, on favourable terms, the facilities of this splendid, centrally placed establishment. As a result of attracting more members, Tony was able to offer an increased payment to the Victoria Hall. In return, the monthly Thursday slot for our general meeting was guaranteed and the large screen was made available for our use. Accommodating an increased number of members and use of the large screen called for a change in seating. Not only have we “turned round” to face the stage, but we also use the balcony for our monthly meetings and very good it is too!
We have had 9 speaker meetings, all in the Victoria Hall and all well attended. Two of our speakers, David Holdsworth and Tony Stephens are “home grown”. It was fitting that David, who spoke on “matters digital” should be the first to use the large on-stage screen with a digital projector, with excellent results. Tony gave a fascinating account of his life as a young Westminster chorister, using both the digital projector and our recently purchased CD/tape player. Other topics have ranged from a light-hearted look at the history of anaesthesia to an absorbing description of an enameller’s life. Dorothy Cockrell, the renowned enameller in question, certainly had us “fired up”, bringing with her as she did her own electric kiln! We are grateful to our speaker organisers for arranging such an interesting, varied programme.
Sincere thanks go to Shirley Wolfenden and Janet Stafford for organising our social calendar, which got off to a great start with the annual autumn outing to the Theatre by the Lake at Keswick to see a breathtaking production of “Around the World in Eighty Days”. Other outings included a visit to Saltaire, and a cruise to Liverpool along the Manchester Ship Canal.
Our Christmas social almost underwent a drastic change when, ten minutes before the beginning, we realised that no wine had been ordered. Needless to say, this was swiftly remedied and everyone was able to relax and enjoy Pam Servant’s challenging quiz followed by a Jacob’s Join lunch, rounded off with seasonal songs and carols performed by Val Baulard and Hugh Stalker. This year’s Christmas social will be under the direction of Shirley Wolfenden and will follow a somewhat different format. Please contact Shirley if you wish offer help or to participate other than as a guest. A large number of members and potential members came to the August “coffee and chat” meeting where much interest was generated by the displays and digital presentation as well as by live demonstrations from the line dancers, circle dancers, exercise group and “Singing for Pleasure” group.
Surely between them our many and varied groups provide all that is needed to ensure we have healthy minds in healthy bodies with plenty of culture, bonhomie and bon vie included for good measure. The Art Appreciation group has visited Leeds City Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery and the Abbott Hall at Kendal. The Heraldry Group has been to Gisburn, Marton, Ulverston, Great Witherslack and Staindrop churches as well as Bishop Auckland Palace and Redworth Hall Hotel. Guided tours of a fascinating range of buildings from an ancient cruckbarn to Skipton Castle have been the privilege of the Looking at Old Buildings group whilst the various walking groups have covered the miles locally and further afield in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The family History Group has also been on the move, visiting Chorley family History Centre whilst the Sunday Lunch Group has enjoyed meals in local establishments as well as travelling to Appletreewick, Kirkby Lonsdale and other places with attractive menus. Too numerous to mention are the bottles of wine consumed by the ever-popular wine groups whose members seem to smile a lot whilst the Circle Dancers have participated in the Women’s World Day of Prayer at the Congregational Church and at the Music Festival in Settle Church. We are grateful to all our group leaders for their time and expertise and for providing such a rich variety of subjects and activities
We are likewise enormously grateful to Frank Woodhams for our superb website which keeps our members up to date with internal news as well as demonstrating our strengths to the rest of the world. Any members who usually read the Newsletter on line may wish to cancel their hard copy, thereby cutting down production costs a little.
Our monthly Newsletter is the lynchpin of communication. How many times when confronted with an “I did n’t know……… ” does the cry go up “It’s in the Newsletter!” Pam Servant has been the excellent editor of a publication which is informative, amusing and entertaining. Alas, she is leaving the Committee this year but is willing to help the next editor for a short while. Should the next editor feel unable to emulate Pam’s style, there is no reason at all why the format of the Newsletter cannot change
As a committee we were aware that at the end of the year i.e. now, a large number of committee members, all experienced, hard-working and able, would be stepping down. We are very grateful to Shirley Wolfenden, our Treasurer, Pam Servant our Newsletter Editor, Alison Tyas our Group Organiser, Pat Dewey our Membership Secretary, Hilary Baker and Ray Wolfenden, for all their hard work over the years. Shirley, Pam, Pat, Hilary and Alison have been committee members from the start. Hilary also served as Chairman for 2 years and was our representative at this year’s National AGM and EGM.
With this huge depletion of the committee in mind, another of Tony’s stated aims at the start of his year in office was to have a recruitment drive for new committee members. Tony began by employing charm but had to resort to more forceful tactics as volunteers failed to materialise. So, apologies if you are one of those whose arm was twisted-but all in a good cause. Without a committee, our U3A cannot function. Being a committee member is not onerous, nor does it demand a huge commitment in time. It has been suggested that our future rallying cry should take its note from John F. Kennedy “Ask not what your U3A can do for you. Ask what you can do for your U3A”.
To sum up, this has been a year when we have tried to build on our strengths whilst making changes in areas deemed weak. Tony, we have much to thank you for. Now Tony is stepping down and we hope to welcome John as our new Chairman. John has already, as Vice-Chairman, demonstrated commitment and energy, chairing as he has, several sub-committees, including that which examined the Constitution and the Speakers sub-committee.
Finally, on a personal note, I truly believe that our U3A is one of the important institutions that make the Settle district a good place to live. There is a wealth of talent, knowledge, experience and expertise amongst our members and we are enormously indebted to all those who are willing to contribute.
At National level, this year has been both a year of disaster and of celebration. The disaster struck in December 2006 when a massive fire destroyed most of the N.Office premises- Fortunately all data was recovered and after swift re-organisation, business carried on as usual until complete restoration in Feb. 2007. On a much happier note, this year is the 25th. anniversary since the USA inauguration. The highlight of the National celebrations is 4-day conferences cruise to Europe in September on board MV Athena and culminating in the A.G.M. at Falmouth, where Hilary Baker will be our representative. She and Frank Pedley will also be joining the cruise.
We have had an excellent year under the chairmanship of Janet Stafford and supporting committee. Pat Dewey our membership secretary reports that our membership is steady at around 240. Sadly five members have died during the year, these are: Len Moody, Leoni Hudson, Betty Holgate, Liz Percy and Titch Meyers. Many members will have read the tribute paid to Titch in our July issue of the News Letter.
In addition to fostering friendship and community spirit, USA is chiefly a co-operative self-help group, where everyone has something to contribute from their store of knowledge and experience. Alison Tyas, our group co-ordinator does a superb job in collating these resources into study groups. She reports another good year, starting in Sept. with 30 groups and ending with 29. Of the original groups 8 have run continuously since we started 5 years ago, and of these 4 still have the same leader. A new group which started after Easter this year is one run by Gillian Walton who leads exercises especially designed for the older person. What will be a popular course starting this month is that of digital photography to be run by Frank Woodhams. Already many people have shown an interest. Alison also liaises with the Victoria Hall in booking our meetings. She finds the staff there very accommodating and helpful. We are the main users of the hall.
There have been 9 speaker meetings this year all of which have been both successful and entertaining and which have been enthusiastically attended by some 80/90 members. The subjects varied greatly from travelogues with a difference, to WW.l memorabilier; some were quite hilarious, others serious, but all of them were very interesting. Congratulations to our speaker organisers.
Our publicity has worked like clockwork under the supervision of George Patterson and his team. We have had regular coverage in the Craven Herald, Events magazine and Community News. Posters are delivered to 28 locations by a team of volunteers, and the value of this was clearly demonstrated at one Thursday meeting, when two holiday makers from East Anglia saw a poster and came along. They so enjoyed the morning that they decided to look out their nearest U3A on returning home. George has also sent photos and copy of our circle dancing group in action to the National Magazine. We will wait and see the results of that one.
As you will know from your News Letter Pam Servant has now introduced a new feature which is a reported interview with one of our members. She is also entering our News Letter in the National “News Letter” competition. We exchange News Letters with several other U3As. Recently we received an accolade from the Clitheroe USA secretary and I quote: “1 wish I lived nearer to Settle your News Letters are always very interesting”. The web site run by Frank Woodhams continues to maintain interest and communication over a wider area. It has generated several enquiries from potential members, and also telephone calls from interested people. There have even been calls from reps. wanting to sell us something.
During this year computers have been the responsibility of Tony Stephens. The digital projector and laptops have proved invaluable, enabling material on a monitor to be projected onto a large screen, thus making it available to whole groups at one time. Because the IT equipment is used by several study groups, transporting it safely has always been a problem. I am pleased to report that we have now been allocated space in a large cabinet in the Victoria Hall where it can be securely locked.
The IT equipment has also been used for advertising Settle USA in a wider context. November 11th. 2006 was the start of an “Aspire and Renew Festival” organised by the Settle Parish Church. The aim of the festival was to celebrate our community and launch an appeal for the church. Many clubs and groups in the town had stalls demonstrating their skills and industry which ranged from clog making and spinning to fine embroidery. Our computer monitors, which showed some of our group activities, were quite an attraction. It was surprising to discover, however, how little was known about USA by the general public. This was important information in view of the National ^U3A awareness^’ campaign.
Our Social calendar got off to a good start with an annual visit to Keswick Theatre by the Lake to see Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”. The members enjoyed a brilliant performance in 1920 style. During February we saw the disturbing play “Mind Games” at Ilkley Playhouse, which was followed in March by a trip to the Lowry at Manchester for a back stage tour. There was a summer outing to the walled garden at Scampston Hall near Maltby, which included a tour of the house by the owner himself. All of these outings were well attended and efficiently organised as usual by Shirley Wolfenden Our Christmas social took the form of a quiz by Pam Servant followed by a recital of songs and carol singing by Valeric Boulard and Hugh Stalker. The event was rounded off by a Jacobus Join. The August meeting, a ” coffee and chat” morning, brought together members and potential members. Again we were able to generate interest in some of our group activities with the aid of our IT equipment.
The highlight of our year was a celebration of our 5th. year anniversary at he Rugby club on August 31st. This was a attended by 75 members and was a very successful evening indeed. The new venue of the Rugby club proved successful, the finger buffet provided byCaterbell was much appreciated and the speaker, Maria Glott whose subject was Titus Salt and Saltaire town, was extremely amusing and informative. It is hoped to follow up the talk with a visit to Saltaire
This year has seen the commencement of two new ventures: Christine and John Rose have offered to keep a register of people who have equipment suitable for the under 5s to lend –ie. cots highchairs and toys etc. and those who would like to borrow such items.
A group of four members have volunteered to be in charge of sending cards or visiting, if appropriate, other members who have such needs. The volunteer co-ordinators in this venture are: Olwyn Bolger, Margaret Cullingworth, Beryl Slan and Janet Stafford. The names of anyone ill or in need, should be passed to one of the team.
Hilary Baker has one more year to serve as chairman of the Cumbria Region. She has been supported by our chairman Janet and other members at a variety of meetings and functions. Tony Stephens, Gillian and Alison also represented us when they attended a day conference at Lancaster entitled ^Managing your U3A.” This considered legal and insurance matters* They were impressed with the information imparted and the depth of the discussions.
Mike Long from the U3Atrust attended the June committee meeting to discuss development issues of local U3As. He distributed copies of a booklet about problems which may arise when Membership reaches a critical number with no room for further enrolment. The discussion was useful but it was agreed that at the moment we have no significant problems.
One of the enduring strengths of the USA is the regular mandatary turnover of our officers and committee, ensuring a continuing supply of new ideas and enthusiasm from which we all benefit. This year some officers and committee members are stepping down and as you will see from your agenda we have received nominations to replace them. With a new chairman and elected officers supported by a new committee, we can look forward to 2008 with anticipation and enthusiasm.
I have arrived at this illustrious position by the back door so to speak. As a new member of the committee I was prepared to listen and learn. The committee entered a crisis after its first meeting when Audrey Daykin the secretary was compelled to resign due to ill health. In the ensuing emergency it was decided to split the duties into two distinct functions, i.e. a correspondence secretary and a minute secretary. We were very fortunate that Gillian Walton agreed to be co-opted onto the committee to be the minute secretary whilst I agreed to do the less arduous job of correspondence. However, as Gillian was a co-opted member, it was my name that had to go forward as “The Secretary”. I feel a bit of a fraud because Gillian does most of the work! I am very grateful to our chairman Janet and the other members of the committee for their help throughout the year. We were unfortunate in that another of our members, Graham Walker, also had to resign through ill health.
In spite of this initial setback we have had a splendid year. Pat Dewey, our membership secretary, oversees the registration and subscriptions and our membership now stands at 220. The purpose of USA is to encourage lifelong learning for older, retired people. With that in mind we have been very successful both in our study groups and our monthly meetings. Our group coordinator, Alison Tyas does a remarkable job in organizing the study groups, finding group leaders and coordinating with Victoria Hall to ensure that everything runs smoothly. There have been 26 different groups meeting at various intervals of time as well as 3 shorter courses; new ones that have been tried this year range from Genealogy and Bridge to Computer programming. Two discussion groups turned out to be non-starters, and the exercise group ran only to Easter. Next year there will be a total of 30 groups, these will include Circle Dancing and Book Reading and also some courses for beginners will be added to existing subjects.
There have been nine speaker meetings this year all of which have been enthusiastically received by a regular audience of 70 to 80 people. There has been a wide breadth of topics covering law, music, language, literature and outdoor pursuits, the year ending with a fascinating insight into the meticulous and diligent research undertaken by Lesley Horton in writing her successful crime novel.
Good publicity is essential for the continuing success of our U3A, and we are fortunate in havingGeorge Pattison in charge of this. His team of distributors deliver posters to 23 shops in the towneach month, and in addition there is regular coverage in the Craven Herald, their Events magazineand Settle Community. The effectiveness of this publicity is reflected in our increased membership.
Our monthly Newsletters are now exchanged with the U3As at Ilkley, Ambleside and Clitheroe; this has proved extremely useful in finding interesting speakers. The Newsletters, produced by Pam Servant, along with our informative Web Site, run by Frank Woodhams, maintain communication both with our own members and also with those in a wider area. I wonder if it would be helpful to know how many hits on our Web Site we get? It would certainly be interesting.
Wearing his other hat, George Pattison is responsible for Information Technology. We were fortunate this year to have received a grant of £3,526.00 from “Awards for All” (from the National Lottery) for the purchase of computer equipment. All but £5.00 has now been spent, and we have been able to purchase a projector, a spare lamp, 2 laptop computers with mouse, photo element and a trolley case. This equipment is not only used by George with his computer group, but is also much appreciated by many other leaders of groups in their presentations of material, ranging through subjects such as French, Art, Genealogy and Philosophy. In conjunction with the projector, the laptops have been indispensable for presentations at Monthly General Meetings.
The great benefit of our I.T. equipment was clearly in evidence at the “Coffee and Chat” meeting in August, when it was used to show members and potential members pictures of the various activities that have taken place during the year.
All of the social functions and outings have been very enjoyable this year. The first outing was a trip to Keswick Theatre by the Lake to see”Dick Barton, Special Agent”. Before the performance there was time for a walk around the lake i in the autumn sunshine. Our Christmas meeting took the form of a Jacob’s Join at St. John’s Hall, followed by a Quiz- fairly taxing, but most enjoyable. Valerie Boulard entertained us during the morning with her singing It was a pity that fewer people attended this event than was expected. Nevertheless it has been decided that our 2006 Christmas meeting will follow a similar pattern. There have been two very successful evening visits to the Ilkley Playhouse. We’re fortunate to have such an accomplished company on our doorstep. The day trip in June to the Yorkshire Mining Museum was a real education. A descent down the mine seemed a bit daunting to many of us, but, equipped with hard helmets and lamps, it turned out to be really interesting and we all enjoyed it.. We are grateful to Shirley Wolfenden for organizing these events. An evening gathering at the newly opened Cricket Club in Settle took place in July This was a buffet provided by the Cricket Club, 45 members attended.
We have been represented this year at Regional and Area events by our Chairman, Janet, past Chairman Hilary Baker and other members. Hilary was our delegate at the National AGM and she will tell us about this after our AGM. She also attended the USA Summer School in Cheltenham. From a wide range of subjects she chose Architecture. In her own words “It was brilliant”. In future there will be a Northern venue at Chester and she highly recommends that members consider this if at all possible.
In July, an Extraordinary General Meeting was called to consider the Executive Committee’s proposal that the Membership fee should be increased to £10 as from September. Financially we have ended the year slightly down on last year, and whilst we do not want to have a large surplus, in the bank, we do need a contingency fund. This decision was confirmed in the Annual Audit by the advice given by the Independent Examiner.
In May this year we received from the USA Trust, the first of a series of bulletins regarding the growth of individual U3 As. There were eight issues raised that might be of concern, for example, “Are you concerned that your membership is falling?,” “Is your publicity failing?” or “Does your USA suffer by not having enough interest groups and leaders for them?”. It is a measure of our success that none of these problems apply to us. The committee members who have served us so well were each elected for three years and none of them is up for election this year. They and the elected offices will continue their tasks and we can look forward with confidence to 2006/2007.
For the third year running we have recorded a steady growth.
Last year we reported having 154 members taking part in 2063 student hours of study over the year. We have now enrolled 200 members and have recorded 2,264 attendances at group meetings. Group sizes vary from three to twenty six while the frequencies range from once a week to once a month. Attendance tends to be erratic as retired people take holidays at any time but there is also a seasonal variation in the use of Victoria Hall from 48 meetings per month in October to 7 in July.
During the year we have had nine monthly meetings which have been attended, on average, by half of the membership. Topics have ranged widely from ‘Windmills’ to ‘Life in the House of Lords’ and from mathematics to local historical events. The speakers have been of merit and have maintained the interest of members. Suggestions from the membership for future speakers would be welcome.
One new feature of our 2004 programme has been the establishment, in October, of coach trips to places of cultural interest. Visits have ranged from a full day at Beamish open air museum to an evening at Ilkley Playhouse. The visits have been very popular and will be continued in the new year. Shirley Wolfenden would welcome suggestions for future outings.
Our central business is the organisation of study groups and we now have 28 groups. As in previous years, Alison Tyas continued to find new leaders to form new groups but more leaders are needed. We now have 200 members with many years professional experience in all walks of life. This is our most valuable asset and the sharing of this experience through participation in group activities is the principle on which we work. While some of our groups are taught courses, most are not. They consist of people with a common interest who come together both to contribute and to learn. Content varies from highly academic to purely social and the pattern of meetings varies to suit the particular group. Groups arise through the enthusiasm of a group leader and the expressed needs of our members. At the moment we need more members to lead groups in areas not yet covered and we hope that in the near future, new leaders will come forward. We need both members with a professional knowledge of an area and those with interests new to their retirement. There are bound to be others who would like to share your interest. We are thankful to Victoria Hall and the Friends Meeting House and individual members for providing facilities without which many of our activities could not take place.
Publicity has been upgraded this year with the appointment of George Pattison as our new Publicity Officer. He is now responsible for press notices and posters. Along with three other members of our committee he attended a course for U3A publicity officers and gained a useful insight into the mind set and priorities of editorial staff. The outcome so far, is better coverage of our activities in both the Craven Herald and the Settle Community News and a stronger poster coverage in the area. From this we expect to strengthen the U3A presence in the area and, over time, to increase our membership.
Communication with our members has continued through our excellent monthly Newsletter produced by Pamela Servant and through our fine Web Site run by Frank Woodhams. The web site, being universally accessible is becoming widely admired by other U3A groups who are much influenced by our example.
Our executive committee has met monthly to facilitate the smooth running of Settle U3A. The minutes are now displayed at monthly meetings and on our web site so that members may be fully informed of its activities and future committee members can see what is involved. We regard all members as ‘future committee members’. We cannot expect the same members to give their time year after year while others see themselves only as consumers. Length of office is limited by our constitution for the express purpose of getting fresh minds to work on our routine business.
As usual, this year various members have represented us at Regional and Area meetings and our Chairman, Hilary Baker, has represented us at the National AGM.
This year we have been very fortunate to have received from ‘Awards for All’ [The National Lottery] a grant of £3,526.00 for the purchase of computer equipment for use in introducing members to the use of computers and to help groups in the presentation of lecture material. This should make a significant contribution to our courses in the next year.
The final event of the year on which you are to be asked to vote is the establishment for the first time of the position of President of Settle District U3A.
The Financial Statement, which is attached, shows that under the careful management of Shirley Wolfenden our finances remain in a healthy state and that no increase in subscriptions is necessary this year. One change in the presentation of the accounts this year is that the social account which deals with visits has been separated from the educational account at the suggestion of central office. This is because receipts for visits appear to inflate the current balance of the organisation. The other apparent inflation is the grant from ‘Awards for All’ for computer equipment which will shortly be spent. Apart from these variations, things are much the same as last year. Expenditure on room hire, stationery, fees for direct mailing and speakers’ expenses are all up but so are membership fees.
The above record indicates that changes are being made – we are still evolving and making progress. With new members on the committee this progress should continue into 2006.
The executive committee wish to express their thanks to the departing Chairman and Secretary for their service to the committee since its inception. Both were members of the original Steering Committee, formed by Frank Pedley, which brought Settle District U3A into being. Hilary Baker has been Chairman for the last two years. Roy Anderson has been Secretary throughout.
Sec. Settle District U3A
Our membership is steadily growing. Last year we reported having 136 members taking part in 1447 student hours of study over the year. We now have 154 members who have taken part in 2063 hours of study.
Our membership covers an area which extends to Horton in Ribblesdale in the north, Kirkby Lonsdale in the west, Skipton in east and Earby in the south.
One third of these members are on the Internet which allows them privileged access to news and information about their organisation. As more groups post information about their activities on our web site, it becomes the essential source of information about Settle District U3A. Our excellent monthly Newsletter is shown on the site as are the minutes of committee meetings.
This year the Internet has become the principal means of communication between ourselves and central office and also the Charities Commission.
During the year we have held nine monthly meetings which have been attended by an average of 55 members per meeting. Speakers have ranged from our new Chief Constable to our own members and so far, due to the efforts of our chairman, the quality of speakers and interest of the topics have been sufficient to hold members’ interest. But the supply of willing local officials will not last forever and at some time in future we may have to consider paying speakers, as other groups do, in order to preserve the standard of the meetings.
Behind the scene the committee has met monthly on eleven occasions to conduct the business of the group and under present circumstances this has been sufficient. But on top of this a considerable amount of unrecorded time is put in by individual members and also by group leaders and other volunteers in order to keep things running smoothly. Without this effort our activities would come to a halt.
Our presence outside the area has been registered in several ways. Our chairman and secretary have attended two meetings with Cumbria Region with which we are now associated. This keeps us in touch with other U3As of a rural character and when necessary will give us a voice nationally which may differ from that of the much larger urban groups.
Our chairman has also represented us at the National AGM and will give a report of the proceedings to the AGM.
Contact is maintained with other U3As through an exchange of newsletters. Those we receive are usually posted on the notice board during monthly meetings
Another indicator of our presence in the national scene has been the appointment of one of our group leaders, Kathleen Kinder, as National organiser for cookery. Other members have tasted the larger scene by attending the Summer School at Cheltenham. No doubt this trend will increase in time.
Our main activity is the provision of study groups of which there are at present 27 running. During the year groups have been lost and new ones gained as we focus on the needs of our members. The size of the groups vary from over 20 to 3 which is to be expected from the differing nature of the groups.
Accommodating groups has worked smoothly due to our arrangement with Victoria Hall and the diligent management of Alison. Only an occasional class has had to be cancelled. We do however still have problems with groups which require special facilities.
A new programme has been assembled by Alison for 2004 to 2005 and is now available for registration. New classes have been added and existing classes modified in an attempt to provide what the membership requires. Classes vary in style considerably, from taught courses to mutual activities. Most are designed without rigid continuity and this, together with information via newsletter and web site about their progress, should enable members to find areas of interest to them. There is still a demand for courses for which we have no leader and it is hoped that in due course, leaders will appear. The principle on which we function is the free exchange of the knowledge we have gathered over a lifetime. It is not a question of the wise teaching the unenlightened but more the case of the enthusiast gathering together a group with similar interests and sharing those interests. Amongst our membership exists a vast resource of knowledge and experience waiting to be tapped. We hope that in due course new leaders will come forward to form new interest groups.
A similar reticence is beginning to decline in the matter of running the organisation. More members are showing an interest in joining the committee which improves the circulation between the providers and the consumers. We hope that this process will continue.
In the final matter of finance we can report that we are in good shape due to the careful husbandry of Shirley and the cautious attitude of those who need to spend. The financial statement is appended.
With these matters in place, we look forward to another year of growth and improvement..
Settle District U3A was conceived by Frank Pedley in 2001. He placed an advertisement in the Craven Herald and subsequently called a meeting in Victoria Hall, Settle. At this meeting a steering committee was formed from which the Settle District U3A became a possibility. The first meeting was held on 25 May at 23 Duke Street, Settle. The Committee members were Roy Anderson (Secretary), Hilary Baker, Pat Dewey, Christine Rose, Anne Sheard, Althea Shevill, Alison Tyas, Shirley Wolfenden (Treasurer). The Chairman was Frank Pedley.
Following a year of preparatory work, an inaugural meeting was called in Victoria Hall, Settle, and the organisation formally came into existence on 12 September 2002.
At this meeting, the steering committee became the first committee of the Settle District U3A, and 64 members were enrolled. From those members, fourteen study groups were formed.
We now have 136 members who have taken part in 1447 student hours of study over the year.
Over the year we have held twelve monthly meetings and have enjoyed hearing twelve speakers on a wide variety of topics, from The Craven District Health Trust to the personal inspirations of two of our own members.
Group Organiser’s Report
We started the year with 14 groups varying in size from 3 to 25 members. Most of these members were new to the U3A. Over time numbers fluctuated but the trend was upwards. In January 7 new groups were formed, some of which flourished while others did not.
Monthly meetings were attended by about one third of the membership. The talks were useful, informative and enjoyed by most. These meetings were also an opportunity to circulate local information and to distribute our constantly improving monthly Newsletter. Members present have been very helpful in passing these on to those unable to attend.
We have enjoyed a very happy relationship with Victoria Hall where about half of our groups meet. Our arrangement has worked well and only occasionally have we needed to use the Friends Meeting House across the road.
On the whole we got off to a better start than expect and look forward to consolidating this success next year. We are very fortunate to have so many good and enthusiastic group leaders.
During the year our group has been represented at the National Conference and at a National philosophy conference.
Financially we have raised £942.50 in membership subscriptions and £850 from grants, including a most generous grant of £675 from the Small Project Fund. We have spent £759.21 on room hire and contributed £363.44 to U3A HQ in affiliation fees. We now have a healthy £1319 to take us forward into our second year.
While most of the routine running of the organisation has been spread amongst our original committee members, eighteen course leaders and volunteer members, some important changes have taken place over the year.
Our founding chairman, Frank Pedley, has stepped down to be replaced by Althea Shevill as acting chairman. Since February she has shown great commitment to this onerous task. However we still enjoy the benefit of Frank’s experience as a committee member.
Pamela Servant has been brought into the committee to act as publicity officer. As a result we now have a reliable and informative monthly Newsletter and a conduit to the local press. During the year we have made valuable contacts with Clitheroe U3A and with Cumbria Region. The opportunity to share experience and take part in combined events should prove very useful for our future development.
A further development has been the establishment of Settle District U3A website run by our volunteer web master Frank Woodhams (www.SettleDistrict U3A.org.uk). This should ensure that information about the group and its activities is available to all at any time.
These embellishments to our flowering organisation are perceptible indications of growth but are under -pinned by a substantial increase in learning activities over the year. This springs from the continuous and daily attention given to the smooth running of the courses by Alison Tyas. It is these courses that are our raison d’être.
For the future is most important to get more people involved in the running of the organisation. The present committee is not big enough to cope with the expansion which is taking place. Not only is the membership growing, but the scope and type of course we offer is increasing.
The ethos of the U3A is that those of us with specialist knowledge make it freely available to those who have a need for it. To be successful, this must happen at all levels. While some are in need of activities which relieve the apparent boredom of retirement, others need activities which inspire them to new levels of intellectual achievement. Without the latter our image will be degraded and those with much to give will be deterred from associating with us.
In this respect it is imperative to attract a high level of visiting speaker to our monthly meetings. This in turn requires the commitment of some of our own members who are prepared to work on the committee towards this end.
New courses and activities are envisaged, some of which are set out in the new programme while others are still mere ideas. More will probably emerge from our association with Clitheroe and our recent attachment to Cumbria Region. This heralds a wider interaction with other U3A groups in the north and a broadening of our vision of educational activities. This anticipated expansion of our activities at all levels means more work for our active members. We need more group leaders for courses and more committee members to ensure continuity in the smooth management of the organisation and to replace those who fade. In view of the coming election for chairman, we look forward to appointing someone with imagination to see the possibilities, the energy to exploit them and the time to devote to this very worthwhile cause. With the right people in place we can go forward into 2004 full of hope.