Those who think of ‘university’ as almost exclusively for the young might be surprised to find that it also embraces the older generation too. The University of the Third Age provides on-going learning opportunities for more senior citizens who retain their intellectual curiosity and want to continue to learn. The growing number of local members who belong to the Wellington and District University of the Third Age – or U3A – have more than sixteen courses, study and activity groups to choose from, ranging from architecture and calligraphy to Italian and Victorian history. Other groups in the pipeline for this year cover gardening, classical music and quizzing, and committee member Alan Shepherd is leading a group to plan ahead to the U3A regional study day in 2014 examining the development of Wellington from a country backwater to an industrial hub, including its interactions with other countries.
In February U3A member Rachel Fenwick presented a lecture on her experiences as an international bowman who represented Britain in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games and was a bronze medalist at the Berlin World Championships. She was a founder member of the Wellington Bowmen Archery Club in 2003. Other speakers this year will include Wellington Mayor Vivienne Stock-Williams, Colin Spackman from Wellington Museum and Taunton U3A member Mike Jones whose subject is ‘Old Taunton in Art’.
The Mah Jong group spent three days at Exmouth both competing and enjoying social activities and excursions on the River Ex with members from other local U3A groups. Despite winter weather turning paths to bogs, separate country walking groups have already covered routes past Culmstock Beacon and Culm Davy Hill, Snowdrop Valley and Brent Knoll, each walk ending with a pub lunch. Members can take advantage of inclusive U3A holidays to Norfolk and York and access advice regarding consumer rights.
The U3A is a self-help, self-managed life-long learning cooperative for older people no longer in full-time work. It provides opportunities for members to share learning experiences and to pursue intellectual interests not for qualifications but for fun. It acts as a pressure group nationally and works to represent the voice of older citizens. With their number rising rapidly this is a voice that is becoming increasingly audible.
Members of the local group meet on the first Monday of the month (excepting August) at Wellington Rugby Club. Details of membership and courses can be found on the U3A Wellington and District website.