Bridlington U3A Mission Statement
Coming together in friendship to find joy and renewal in recreation, learning and teaching, through a vibrant, effective and inclusive local U3A supported by a community of dedicated volunteers
Bridlington U3A Chair’s report for the year 2009-10
Welcome to you all to this our third Annual General Meeting. As always I have looked back to where we left off this time last year, when membership stood at 525 members and the number of interest groups at about 60. Membership now stands at 635 with about 70 interest groups. We are now the largest U3A in the East Riding and Humberside. We have not engaged in any membership drives this past year since we believe that steady organic growth best meets our vision of manageability and quality, and that word of mouth is the best recommendation. Alongside, we have a lovely website managed by Mike Wilson and a regular newspaper slot which Hilda Slater faithfully maintains. We feel these airings are sufficient to maintain steady growth and a secure place in the community.
The Chair’s report is an opportunity to look back at the highlights of the year and engage in an historical oversight of what we have been doing. Remarkably the generosity of members stands out as a feature of this past year. You have raised about £1,500 for a wide range of charities, both as a result of one of our monthly speakers, but also through the flourishing musical life of our U3A with the two choirs, the orchestra, the recorder group and of course our super band the U3Mix.
The speakers this past year have enjoyed wonderful audiences -to the shock of some of our speakers who had never imagined such throngs. It was interesting to note at our regional meeting recently held in York that our meetings here in Bridlington attract the largest percentage following (close to 50% compared with about 30%). I know we are now helped by having a venue of this size and quality and, as a committee, we have no regrets about taking the leap to move into the Spa. And in noting subsequent comments about speakers, so many of you have noted that it is not so much the subject of the talk which attracts but the quality of the presentation "Did I really want to hear about donkeys?" said one member. "But I’m glad I did."
Speakers we have enjoyed this past year included a return of Jackie Lomax, the Hull based woodcarver, speakers from two charities close to home, the RNLI and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, a charity which is always in the news, the Red Cross, the passionate scientist Will Watts and the Dinosaur Coast, the local Ian Banks and his charity work in Nepal, and, probably the most talked about speaker, Bill Tetlow and his donkeys. I think he would still be here if we hadn’t taken the microphone off him. These meetings are of course more than just a series of talks -they are where the business of our U3A is conducted, where we can flag up change, identify new groups, appeal for help on particular matters.
The development of the U3A centre in Victoria Road has been a real step forward for our organisation. Christine will talk about this later but I just want to mention the support we have received from Peter Crawford, the Resource Centre Manager. Nothing is too much trouble for him and we have been helped considerably in setting up the Centre through his kindness and support.
We are now beginning to look beyond the confines of Bridlington. I regularly attend the regional meetings held in York under the auspices of the Yorkshire and Humber region but I am managing to resist any further commitment other than as an ordinary representative. It was at a recent meeting that I first met the national chair of U3A Ian Searle. We were urged at this last meeting to take a closer look at our local community and in particular, at the growing numbers of people who might be called 4th Agers - the very elderly in our midst but who are in effect at the edge of society with advancing age. Or those becoming increasingly excluded because of illness and frailty. He asked us what we are doing as U3As for this group. And so when a young social worker Louise asked if we might help out with her project Memory Café for people with Alzheimers and their carers, we felt this was something which we might get involved with. Those of you who attended the last meeting will remember her. Kath Brown is our first volunteer group leader - she will be organising an art and craft session at the end of the month - to be followed by the Spooners, the choir, the line dancers and the recorder group later in the year. And so our first venture of reaching out into the community has made a start.
Our treasurer Christine and our membership secretary Wendy attended the National Conference in Edinburgh last September, and this coming September our group co-ordinator Jennie and I will be going to Cirencester to attend the national AGM. I bet it won’t be as much fun as ours promises to be. We have put forward a motion for the national AGM asking for some serious thought be given to re-locating the national headquarters, currently in Bromley just outside London, more centrally.
In February I was able to attend the World U3A Conference in India which conveniently fell during a holiday I had already planned at that time. As so often happens, the joy of meeting so many different, interesting people remains uppermost long after the content of various talks have dissolved into the mists of forgetfulness. I do still wonder what missed when I skipped a session entitled ’The geriatric wisdom of longevity’. This was followed by a session entitled ‘Diminishing Reflexes with Advancing Age’ - I was all too well aware of what that might have been about. But what wonderful hospitality we enjoyed in India -never to be forgotten.
So what are the issues ahead for us in Bridlington? As always, meeting the demands of members, and in particular new members, in terms of quality interest groups. This will be a perennial question and must remain a top priority for your committee. And we need people to support the work of our U3A; we will always need a strong and evolving committee, supported by a band of volunteers for an organisation of this size. Please do think about finding time, perhaps as a volunteer here, perhaps helping Sylvia maybe once a month at the drop-in session in our Centre, perhaps as a committee member. There are so many ways of supporting but we cannot maintain quality and grow without help. If you have found that the U3A has given you a new lease of life, do think about stepping forward to make a contribution, however small. Christine will raise matters financial with you so I will not dwell on these.
At this point I want to thank those Committee members who are now retiring or resigning. Margaret Holmes has been a long-standing committee member but she is not disappearing but will continue to organise the pub lunches along with Tina Colley, who has also agreed to remain as a volunteer. Malcolm Hall has only been with us for a year but pressure of business and health have meant he must reduce his commitments. However again he will remain as a volunteer co-ordinating the volunteers. Earlier in the year we lost Helen McGonigle but her constant presence in organising trips and outings, including our lovely Party Nights with the U3Mix, means we still have her on board, again as a key volunteer. One key member of the U3A, our founder Sue Mukherjee, resigned earlier this year to take care of her husband. She will soon be leaving Bridlington to return to her home of Newton Abbott. Sue has been the instigator of many initiatives and an enthusiastic participant in many groups. We wish her and Ranj every good wish for the future. Sue will be much missed as a good friend and as a colleague.
This Chair’s report is of course a time for thanking a wide range of key people,
We thank the long suffering and cheerful staff here at the Spa -whatever we ask for they try and meet our changing demands. And then your committee - such a splendid bunch of people, supported by the hard-working volunteers, too many to mention in so many different capacities; enabling this meeting, helping with publicity, getting involved in finance - looking for grants and raising funds, managing the Centre, organising pub lunches, theatre trips, outings and party nights, not forgetting Sally with the raffle (hopefully to restart in September) and Jim and his books. He always seems to go home with more books than he brought and still he makes a nice little profit.
But above all, our collective and most sincere thanks to our group leaders who give so much and who are the core of Bridlington U3A. And it is interesting to note, that so many of these people are already giving a great deal to their community in different charitable and similar capacities. If you want something done, find a busy person!
I nearly forgot - thank you to the Art Groups for their beautiful work - which reminds me of this saying by Eleanor Roosevelt:
‘Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.'
Choose which category you belong to?
I thank all of you for your participation as members and for being here today.
I hereby announce the next AGM for Bridlington U3A. It will be held on 11th July 2011.