Newark & District U3A

The self-help organisation for older people, no longer in full time work where learning is just for pleasure

Newark & District U3A #History

Newark & District U3A

Registered Charity

No 1147496

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The first University of the Third Age began in France in the 1970s. In France the U3A is closely allied to the universities, but the situation was different in Great Britain because of the existence of the Open University. In this country learning within the U3A is less formal.


In 2003, two members of Lincoln U3A, Sandra Hardman and Sally Leaper, came to Winthorpe Community Centre in the Newark area with two things in mind. They were looking for a decent venue for the regional meetings of the East Midlands group of U3As and they were also aware that the numbers of the already large Lincoln Group were being swelled by people from the Newark area. So they were interested in seeing whether Newark could form its own U3A.


At the community centre – a fairly new and well appointed building ,  they met Peter Foden, a villager and hall committee member and discussed both these things with him. Subsequently the hall was used by the regional body, but, just as importantly, a launch meeting was held in Winthorpe to set up the first U3A in the area.


Articles appeared in local newsletters and in “Focal Point” and libraries in the area displayed posters giving information about the U3A and inviting anyone interested along to the inaugural meeting, and the rest as, as they say, is history.


At that meeting, on Tuesday 8th April 2003, not only was a committee formed but ten separate groups were established, with leaders, ranging from Spanish to dancing.


The organisation flourished and a year later an AGM was held in Newark itself. This meeting had been announced in the local newspaper the “Newark Advertiser” and was very well attended. New members came on to the committee, the only office being difficult to fill being that of chairman. By the end of the meeting, which was attended by Sandra and Sally from Lincoln, two people had agreed to share the secretary's job and our two friends from Lincoln felt that they could now bow out and leave Newark & District U3A to its own devices.


In the years that followed our numbers and our groups have grown steadily. We accept that some groups come to a natural end, some groups are intended to be time limited and others have stayed the course because the members wish them to. We have lost some friends to infirmity, re-location and end of life. Very few have simply left. The Southwell U3A (our nearest neighbour) was set up by one of our members just as ours was initially launched by Lincoln members and some people even now maintain membership of both U3As. Others with a view to time distance and travelling costs, have opted for the organisation nearest to home.


Since that inaugural meeting, the groups have branched out into day-visits, residential visits for the Archaeology Group, still lead by Peter, annual philosophy days which are open to other U3As, theatre visits and our German Group is planning the first venture abroad in 2013.


We are now on our fourth venue for our monthly meetings when groups come together and our most recent innovation is to use some of these meetings to showcase various groups and to have a social afternoon rather than an invited speaker.


At the end of May in 2012 Newark & District U3A was registered with the Charity Commission.


Our U3A was and is the creation of our members and will evolve through time to meet the wishes of the members.


There is a lot more information which can be found on the University of the Third Age website.

Our History