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Dear friends

I have been struggling to write this letter, feeling as I was, overcome with gloom about the future of our wonderful organisation. We have had some brilliant talks since I last wrote to you and a hugely encouraging New Members meeting on the 14th November. The room was filled with enthusiastic Group Leaders and equally enthusiastic members, not all new, engaging in animated conversation. Just what the U3A is all about. However, as well as a welcome, I had to deliver the devastating news that unless someone came forward to continue production of our successful newsletter this would be the last. However, I am very pleased to tell you that Sheila Ayling and Judy Smith have agreed to take over from Roger Warr as joint Newsletter Editors. It is as if a huge load has lifted from my shoulders. To think that all the years of dedicated work should end when I am chairman was a very unhappy thought for me.

Yes, this crisis may have been averted but as we go forward into 2020 we shall need a new Subscriptions Secretary, a new Speakers Secretary, a new Tea Rota Secretary and indeed a new Secretary. Since Pam Underwood was obliged to give up I am again wearing the Secretary’s hat. None of these tasks is of itself overwhelmingly onerous and the present holders of the roles have prepared well in advance into 2020. Our committee members support each other magnificently and any of the jobs could be done by a team. Six committee meetings a year and some time in correspondence is basically all that is required. Please do think about it - we are all busy people but it is clear that our 1300 members find the organisation valuable -let’s keep the show on the road.

We do have something to look forward to in the December monthly meeting. Three members will entertain us with a musical offering (still under wraps!), there will be a bit of a quiz and Christmas cake and mince pies.The 80 places are filled but elsewhere in this newsletter Nick Vernon explains how you might still be able to come and share in a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

May I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year and a memorable 2020.

Freda Bates




Winchester U3A needs an independent examiner to review its accounts before the Annual General Meeting in March 2020. This work can be done by anyone with a bit of financial acumen and the gumption to say “that’s wrong” if necessary.

There must be hundreds of members with relevant experience who could help next year so I look forward to receiving lots of response. Don’t just let someone else volunteer; this is your chance to help your own U3A.

Please contact me via


Vernon Tottle Treasurer, Winchester U3A




As the Strictly dancer Anton du Beke wrote, “My perfect morning is spent drinking coffee, eating porridge and reading the paper at a local cafe.” I am sure the paper he had in mind was the Winchester U3A newsletter. Those of you who receive this valuable beacon of communication by email need to substitute “iPad” for “paper” but you get the gist.

But the Winchester U3A Newsletter isn’t the only way that you can receive news of what is happening in the wider U3A world. The National U3A issues a monthly newsletter of its own that can be viewed online or sent to you by email. The latest edition covered news of various summer schools, information about the Annual General Meeting in August, advice for treasurers and various items about interest groups. To receive this every month you need to visit the national U3A website and click on the “newsletter” tab; you cannot ask for this to be sent by post.

On a more glossy scale, and in a magazine that can only be read in its full glory on paper, is the national U3A Third Age Matters. Many of you already receive this in the post every few months and will know it features comment, opinions, reviews, news, games and many pages of readers’ letters. A text only version of the magazine is avaible online under the resources tab but for the full impact you must read the paper version. If you don’t already get the magazine and would like to try it, you need to contact our membership secretary Lianne Hill via .

Sending out the national magazine is part of the £8 subscription you pay to us every year and this has so far also applied to the Winchester U3A newsletter. It costs almost nothing (except a lot of hard work by the editor, subscription secretary and webmaster) to send out the newsletter by email but it costs about £4.90 per year per recipient to distribute it by post. The committee is considering whether to make an additional charge of £5 per year to cover these costs, otherwise those who elect to receive it by email are in effect subsidising those who like to get a paper copy. If you have any thoughts on this, please write to me .

Whatever you read and in whatever medium, do please continue to enjoy your mornings like Mr du Beke.

Vernon Tottle




Tuesday 10 December

Following the now well-established tradition of a sociable December meeting, this afternoon will include tea with Christmas cake and mince pies, a quiz, and a special entertainment from a few of our members. This is now full, but if you would like to be put on the waiting list please e-mail – members only please. We do not want to have to turn disappointed people away on 10 December.

For the few members who do not have e-mail, you can telephone Freda on 01962 855707 to go on the waiting list, but please telephone if, and only if, you cannot e-mail.

Julia Whitburn




I am group excursions and holiday organiser for Alton U3A.

I am planning a group holiday to the Isle of Man from 10 to 15 May 2020 and still have some single and double room availability.

I would be very grateful if you would forward this email to an appropriate person in your organisation to distribute to your membership. If anyone is interested, I would be happy to email the itinerary and booking form. ( )

Very many thanks and best wishes

Mary Tricker .




Do you want to sing but can’t read music? Maybe not even sure if you can sing but would love to have a go? Are you already a singer?

There’s a new singing group started in Winchester. it isn’t a U3A group as we don’t have one at the moment, but I enjoy this new group so much I would like you all to know about it (and it saves us organising our own).

This friendly happy group (with a young & very enthusiastic leader called Joe) meets on a Wednesday morning at the Wesley Methodist Church on Fromond Road in Winchester from 10.30 am - 12.00 pm. Joe leads two similar & already very established groups in Totton & Romsey.

The sessions are £5 a time, and the group can be found at www.achoiringvoices.co.uk.

I can’t read music, and I’m not even sure if I can sing, but I go every week to enjoy trying, only missing it when I have no alternative.

If you can’t find a companion who is also interested, I’m happy to be your U3A link & confirm that I will certainly be there when you go, although they are all very welcoming if you just turn up alone. I can be contacted at . (Please don’t miss the “8” or someone in Hampshire County Council will receive your e-mail!).

Joe can be contacted directly on . He has given his permission to be advertised through U3A as he would love to encourage you along.

Gill Goodwin




Isles of Scilly are a ‘must do’. From an initial visit of three days a couple of years ago, to two glorious weeks last summer I fell in love with the delights of the archipelago and its people. Curious as to what life was like on the Isles in winter, I have just returned from another two weeks savouring all it offers in the depths of January. I wished for storms to indulge in scenes of wild seas crashing on the rocks and foaming white rollers climbing the sandy beaches: the storms I longed for were storms I had… in glorious abundance as they headed the snow laden weather fronts to the mainland.

As a lone traveller, I decided to contact Scilly U3A to ask if I could temporarily join during my stay. I was welcomed to all group meetings. I truly enjoy Mahjong and when I saw there was no group I offered to teach this delightful game. The response was heart warming and four members took the plunge.

The welcome opened up thoughts about whether Winchester U3A offers the same to those who may be visiting our City and the local area! I was greeted with much interest. Questions were asked about Winchester, its Groups, membership. I was also greeted with a warm response when I said that anyone who visited Winchester was most welcome to join my Group for a cuppa and a slice of homemade cake made every week by one of our players at our Mahjong Group in Easton Village Hall. We welcome membership who are tempted to put their toe in the waters of Mahjong.

The Isles of Scilly U3A has a membership of 120 so everyone knows everyone in a total population of 2,300. There does not appear to be difficulties with members volunteering to be on the Committee or stepping in to other roles so vital for any U3A to survive. However, on my return to Hampshire I received an email sent to Group Leaders about the growing difficulties in getting membership to volunteer for our vitally invaluable Committee. I am left wondering about how a close, small U3A community such as Scilly flourishes in its infrastructure and a U3A community such as Winchester with a population of 122,000 and a U3A membership of around 1,300 has challenges in getting new blood on a retiring Committee, without which the reality is Winchester U3A would go under. In fact, I understand that some present committee members have taken on two roles in order to carry out vital services for you and me.

Meanwhile, whilst my Scilly storms were exhilarating I fear storms ahead with the prevailing downpour of NIMBYism over the depressingly lack of enthusiasm for Winchester Committee membership. This failure goes against everything that U3A lays down in its Mission statement of ‘facilitating growth and support’. How do each one of us promote growth and support in the groups we belong to and the U3A Organisation?

These are hard words to write which hopefully induces waking up to the realities of the vital work of our volunteer Committee. We are in hard times in the task to tempt membership onto our Committee… and we all know which way the wind blows if this continues.

Anne Wright




The new regulation on data protection (the GDPR) requires us to get the consent of our members so that we can contact them via post, telephone or email. Thanks very much to all members who responded to our email or returned our form with their preferences on how they would like to be contacted. Anyone who did not respond or want to change their consents can contact our membership secretary, Lianne Hill ().

Just one clarification: a significant number of members who responded did not give us their permission to send them ‘bulk emails’. These are the updates we send out via email about Winchester U3A events and newsletters etc. These emails come from Winchester U3A - we will never give your email address to any other organisation. We apologise if the term ‘bulk emails’ was unclear, and if you would like to receive these email updates, please let Lianne know by email.

Barrie Brinkman

Following up Barrie’s notice, please note that members may not receive a printed copy of the Third Age Matters in future if they have not sent back the GDPR form.

Lianne Hill




Moving on line, that is...

I have a friend who has lived here in Winchester for many years, but as she was born in Poland she needed to apply for “settled status” to be sure to be able to live here into the future. She found she had to do this on line, no options.

My daughter went for a holiday in Canada this year and had to provide her personal information to get an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) allowing her to fly into Canada. She too found she had to do this on line, no options. Two examples of how we are being forced to do things in a new way. Whether we like it or not, the digital world is pushing us to do more on our computers in whatever form they may be. For lots of us tablet devices such as the iPad are a godsend. They allow us to do things easily and without much of the hassle associated with traditional p c computers. Smartphones such as the iPhone do much the same but with their tiny keyboards they may not be to everyone’s taste.

Scary? Well if you are new to the world of the iPad and would like to have some friendly faces around you, you might consider coming to a meeting of the Apple Mac users’ group, where once a month some 25 like minded folk share their experiences, how to resolve difficulties without being embarrassed or by feeling they should be able to sort something but somehow can’t.

The 4th Tuesday morning of each month offers this chance to feel confident in the strange digital world, and to be able to do things yourself without having to ask one of the younger generation. They may have grown up with this but we aren’t dead yet and I personally like to do things for myself if I can.

Give me a call if you feel interested, I’m Nick Vernon and you can reach me on 01962 861680 or 07714 768398




martinA joint 6-month long project by two members of Winchester U3A has resulted in the publication of this book. Ian Douglas, who has self-published his own books on Amazon, and Hazel Spencer, whose father kept a diary of his wartime experiences, were put in touch by Colin Chase, leader of the photography group.

Bert's attempts to have his diary published in the 1950s were unsuccessful as were those of his daughter, Hazel, after his death. Now, 75 years after his capture at Tobruk, its publication enables this story, of an ordinary soldier living through extraordinary times, to be told.

The book is based on Bert's handwritten account, documents and photographs, and his interview with the Imperial War Museum. It details life in PoW camps in North Africa, Italy and Germany, and the horror of Dresden after the firebombing.


This is the true, unheroic but moving story of a PoW and his comrades and gives an insight into the prisoners' lives: the fears, the boredom, the hunger and the comradeship.

Royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to the Red Cross, in recognition of the food parcels which they sent to PoWs.

In Bert's own words:
  "As one may gather, the Red Cross parcels we received meant quite a lot to us. I dare not even try to imagine what would have happened to many of us had we not been fortunate enough to receive parcels."

Now available from Amazon, postage-free, cost £10:

Till We Meet Again: Gunner Bert Martin: 1941 to 1945: Amazon.co.uk: Hazel Spencer, Mr Bert Martin: 9781544048703: Books




Some of our members would love to come to our interesting monthly meetings but have no transport. If you know of someone in this predicament please let us know as we are trying to set up a car buddy system to tackle this. We also need help identifying members with visual difficulties who have no access to the internet and would benefit from a modified large print hard copy of the newsletter. please help us to get in touch if you know such a member.

Freda Bates contact details.




With a membership in the region of 1300, your Committee realises that not all members enjoy good health and that some may have a disability of some kind which affects their ability to access U3A activities.

We are keen to know whether any members feel there might be more we could do to help them access our activities. This might include, for example, obtaining car lifts from other members to monthly meetings or groups.

In order that we can establish what difficulties any members may have in this respect we should like to hear either from anyone in this situation or who is aware of anyone experiencing difficulty.

Also, if any member has experience how other organisations deal with this situation we should appreciate any ideas.

Obviously we cannot promise anything but we are prepared to consider any suggestions or requests.

If you have any views on this matter please contact either of us – if we are away when you contact we will get back to you as soon as possible.


Freda Bates
contact details