U3A Organisers Delighted With Turnout

Organisers of the new University of the Third Age, or U3A, branch on the islands say they’re delighted with the turnout for yesterday’s enrolment event.

Around 50 people turned up to pay their £20 joining fee and put their names down for the various learning groups on offer.

The movement, which started in France in the 70s, is for retired people and part-time workers.

Volunteer tutors, often members of the group itself, offer a range of courses in informal surroundings including private homes.

Organiser Roy Barnes said they have around 19 subjects currently on offer, ranging from wine, art and music appreciation courses, to exercise classes such as Pilates and tai chi. The subjects are the ones that most people expressed an interest in at the inaugural meeting in November.

Roy told us the conversational French class is proving the most popular with so many people signing up that it’s likely they’ll have to divide the group.

We spoke to John Humphreys who signed up for backgammon and astronomy courses.

He thought U3A was an excellent idea and was amazed to see so many people turn up. He also liked the fact that courses are informal with no exam at the end, which he felt was a more relaxing way to learn.

Co-organiser Maureen Carter says the groups will now need to get together and decide when and where they want to meet.

She said the groups are informal and organise themselves and if there isn’t an expert available to tutor the group, they can borrow DVDs and other learning material from the extensive U3A library.

Unfortunately, the poor weather yesterday meant many people from the off-islands couldn’t get to the enrolment meeting but Maureen says they’ll follow up with those people separately.

They also have plans to provide course on using the on-line videoconferencing system, Skype, so people on the off-islands can take part in sessions without having to travel to St Mary’s.