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CHAIRMAN'S REPORT AT A.G.M. of WINCHESTER U3A ON MARCH 10TH 2020

Once again our 1355 U3A members have enjoyed an interesting, educational and entertaining year, with lively talks, stimulating outings and many other exciting activities. This is due entirely to the hard work of the small committee and the group leaders who do the organising for us all.

I must particularly thank the committee who shoulder the heaviest burden of keeping Winchester U3A the thriving organisation that attracts new members every month. Thanks go to Vernon Tottle, our treasurer, Julia Whitburn, our Groups Secretary and Speakers Secretary, Barrie Brinkman, our webmaster, Lianne Hill, our Membership Secretary, Nick Vernon, who will take over as Speakers Secretary and Sylvia Leyton, our long serving Subscriptions Secretary who is standing down at this meeting. Our team of Sheila Ayling and Judy Smith who took over the newsletter editorship from Roger Warr after Christmas are also to be congratulated. Rose and Steve Saunders are no longer able to organise the tea rota - Julia and I will cope in the short term but we need to find someone to take that over as well. We must give an extra special thank you to Sylvia, Rose and Steve for doing their bit for us for so long. In my personal opinion every one of these roles could be a shared responsibility - as demonstrated by Sheila and Judy and Rose and Steve. No-one need go it alone.

We have come to a point where every single member needs to reflect on how the U3A has enriched their lives. On a personal note, membership brought me great comfort from the misery of bereavement. Among our fellow members we find support, interest, fun and the exploration of exciting new things which help keep our minds and bodies active when so many around us are stagnating from lack of human interaction and new ideas in their lives. Such reflection makes us all realise that sitting back and enjoying the results of other people’s efforts without giving something back just doesn’t feel right.

In my last chairman’s letter I spoke of the bombshell dropped by Hilvary Robinson, one of our regional trustees, at the January committee meeting. The fact that I was secretary AND chairman was simply not legal because for two years I have been signing my own minutes. There was also the fact the we didn’t have a vice-chairman. Without the four officers, chairman, vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer, our organisation is not acceptable to the charity commissioners. The U3A is a charity and we are required to abide by their rules or lose charitable status. Hilvary stated that unless those roles were filled I would be instructed to give the membership thirty days’ notice of an extraordinary general meeting, at which she would be present, to oversee the closing down of Winchester U3A and the distribution of our funds.

David Body has offered to take over from me as secretary. However still no vice-chair! Then last night I had to rewrite a large part of this report because, after much thought, Richard Costard has been persuaded to take on the vice-chairmanship - for a maximum of two years and without any requirement to become the next chairman. So thank you Richard - we shall propose you and David for these two key roles later.

In fact we have been so preoccupied with this that we failed to see the elephant in the room. Our constitution stipulates a two year tenure of office for the chairman. I have now served two years. If no-one steps up this afternoon to take over I am prepared to continue for one more year but this would mean your permission to extend that time as a special amendment to the constitution. We shall deal with these issues at the appropriate time.

But now in the words of the immortal Max Bygraves “I wanna tell you a story.”

“There were four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t. It ended up with Everybody blaming Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. So in the end that important job just didn’t get done.”

Addendum:

The Virus

There is now a huge hole in our lives - it makes very clear how important the U3A and our other interest organisations mean to us. Social interaction is a vital part of our lives. Please be vigilant and don’t let isolation and depression be yet another triumph for this unprecedented attack on our health, both physical and mental. I know the phone call and the email, even the letter are no substitute for a good old face to face encounter but they are better than nothing.

We will come out of this having learnt a lot and look forward to re-establishing a “normal” life. Information from National Office can be found on the website.

Freda Bates Chairman

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A CHANCE TO HELP WITH COVID 19 RESEARCH

Those of you good at downloading apps may find taking part in this research a worthwhile use of some of our unexpected free time.

Go to https://covid.joinzoe.com/ .

Freda Bates Chairman

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GROUP LEADER'S EMAIL

The following message was sent to all Group Leaders on 17th March:-

Dear Group Leader,

With the best interests of all our members at heart the committee have decided to cancel the April and May monthly meetings and re-schedule the speakers. This message will be put on the website. We will make every effort to keep you informed about developments for subsequent months.

We are relying on group leaders to pass on this information as not all our members use the internet. Given the diversity of our groups, their members and their venues we ask group leaders to consult with their members and make a decision to meet or not on this basis. A possible outcome of this projected lockdown is depression and feelings of loneliness and isolation. Please keep up everyone’s morale with phone calls and emails etc as much as you can. Already the brighter light and welcome spring flowers are helping to lift our spirits until, in the words of Vera Lynn, “We’ll meet again!” and not before too long I hope,

Freda, your chairman.

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NATIONAL U3A CORONAVIRUS - UPDATE

To Chairs and Secretaries

Following the Government and NHS announcement yesterday, the Third Age Trust has created a dedicated page on the national website to keep you up to date with the latest guidance and advice - both general and specific to U3A.

Please let your members know that they can find it here

Living History in Unprecedented Times

U3A members are being asked to help craft a shared learning project where they create living history of this extraordinary time.

The project will look for personal thoughts, ideas and reflections on how this feels to you and what you are doing to deal with it. Members may want to keep an electronic diary or to find a little note-book which you can have close at hand to scribble down thoughts as they come.

We are asking people to write up anything they think relevant to having to be at home and your thoughts and reactions. You may wish to write something each day for example, or once a week or simply when something of note happens. You may read an article, book or see a programme which triggers some ideas or thoughts.

We are also looking for ideas and reflections on how you are keeping your interests going if you are online and if you have access on your television, radio or via the internet.

It's also pretty important to think of good things that happen so in the journal make an effort every day to list five things that gave you pleasure however small.

We will be expanding our support of this project in the coming days including suggested questions that you could ask yourself to help structure your thoughts.

We are currently recruiting volunteers to be contact points to offer support and advice.

If you want take part - please keep in touch with us. At the moment share your ideas at but in the next few days we will have a dedicated email address for this living history project. So keep checking the website and national newsletter.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Please see below an updated Q and A summary of advice sent over the last few weeks.

Summary Q and A

Freda Bates Chairman

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NATIONAL U3A NEWSLETTER MARCH - LINK

To Chairs and Secretaries

Please find enclosed the link to the National Newsletter for March (button below).

The National Newsletter is crucial in reaching out to members, as we have no direct contact with them. During this period we would be very grateful if you could assist members who are happy to do so, to sign up to the national newsletter.

Thank you - its very appreciated.

Link to National Newsletter - March

Freda Bates Chairman

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CHANGE OF VENUE FOR OUR AUGUST MONTHLY MEETING

As the Littleton Hall is closed in August we have booked the King Alfred conference chamber in the Winchester Guildhall for our meeting.

The subject will be “The Arab Spring: did it fail, how it still affects the middle east countries”, given by Adrian Sindall, who gave the extraordinarily popular presentation on Syria recently.

guildhallThe Guildhall Room

 

The hall accepts 150 people so we will ask you to book if you would like to come.

Booking will be in person at the general meetings in June and July, and subsequently by email or phone to Nick Vernon, starting in June (not yet, please!).

Please pop the date in your diary or calendar. It’s Tuesday 11th August at 2pm

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