top of page
  • Writer's pictureSue Hooper-Lawrie

UPDATE April / May 2024

Our April speaker Anita Edgar

Anita gave us a highly personal account of starting the El Shaddai charity in Goa, India some 25 years ago whilst on holiday with her daughter and feeling compelled to address the problem of street poverty and child abuse which she saw around her. Anita's faith combined with her commitment to do something practical led her to co-found the El Shaddai Charitable Trust which has gone on to become a well-regulated educational and care organisation helping some 85,000 children and their families over subsequent years. Anita's inspiring story and the evident scope of the charity's achievements provided a motivational and interesting afternoon. Anita brought with her some Indian merchandise for sale and raised a total of £251 for El Shaddai. She thanks all who bought items and those who donated.

Our May speaker

Our long-time member Ken Wood recounts his days as a young man 'Doing National Service for Queen and Country' taking this 'Brummie street kid from Aston' via a training camp in Dorset to the British Army in Germany. As conscription into national service ceased in 1960 not many of our members will have such memories and I'm sure we will have fun hearing about the many experiences Ken encountered along the way! Photo is Ken at Crerar Barracks Delmenhorst Germany.

March meeting speaker Ruth Croome. A note from Lorna.

Our thanks to Gill Sole, our speaker contact, for booking Ruth Croome in March. This is an email I received from her on 11 March which I felt I should share with you all. What an impression we made on her as she did on us.

Hello Lorna

Thank you for making me so welcome when I came to talk to Culm Valley U3A on Thursday 7th March.  It was a pleasure to meet you all, and I particularly appreciated the impressive turnout (97 members?), the attentiveness during my talk, the intelligent questions raised and the kind comments made afterwards. 

I thought you would like to know that I collected £364.10 in my collecting box which, when added to the £50 cheque in lieu of a speaker's fee, totalled £414.10, a wonderful sum of money. It has already been sent via bank transfer to Head Office. Please thank your colleagues on my behalf at your next meeting. I am most grateful.

With my very best wishes Ruth Croome UK Speaker - Mercy Ships 

News from the Interest Groups


Are you thinking about researching your family history, wondering where to start, or having difficulty following the trail and sources of information? The Genealogy Group are holding a workshop on the 10 Most Common Research Blocks aka "Brick Walls" (plus 5 Common Irish "Brick Walls") at the Hayridge Centre Cullompton Library on the 8th of May between 10:30 and 12:30. New members are always welcome. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


It’s really rewarding, seeing your quilt come together. 

Some group members are finishing off sewing together the different block designs we’ve learned about - and some are now at the stage where they have stitched their blocks, tacked them to the wadding and backing fabric and are now ready to start quilting.  This is where all three layers are stitched together, using small stitches, in a pattered effect.

In our last session, we discussed quilting techniques - whether to use machine and/or hand stitching, pattern design and the different types of threads to use.  Although we are near to the latter stages of finishing off our quilts, there will be a lot of time and effort put into this quilting part of our projects. 

Behind the Scenes’ Day at the Races, 26th March

A happy band of 36 more or less race-savvy punters spent an enjoyable afternoon at Taunton Races last month for our first outing of 2024, blessed with a fine afternoon for the RNLI Charity Meeting. After a quick introduction to on-course betting by the knowledgeable Simon, a friend of Paula’s and regular racegoer and steward at Devon’s racecourses, we embraced the sport of kings with greater or lesser success. But richer or poorer, we all went home having enjoyed the atmosphere of this small and friendly course.


 Since the 11th April the ukulele group have been meeting at our new venue Markers Community Room, Uffculme, EX15 3DZ from 10.00 am to 11.30 am every week (with some holiday breaks across the year). We currently have a good-sized group of fourteen players, a mix of complete beginners and some experienced players. We have room for plenty more and we always have fun, mostly playing and singing songs from the 1950's to the present day. Some of the group will be playing at the Coldharbour Mill Summer Fayre on Sunday 28th July!

Beginners French Conversation

This is a small (no more than six), friendly, fun group mostly complete beginners or have very little French vocabulary. Our emphasis is on the spoken word, preparing ourselves for holidays or short trips to France. So far, we have focussed on Introductions, saying something about ourselves, asking questions about themselves and the all-important issue of coping in Bars, Cafes and Restaurants. Soon we will move on to finding our way around, asking questions to find places and understanding directions.


Met at the Beambridge Inn at Sampford Arundel, where we headed off led by Jackie Sims for a four and a half mile walk through beautiful Somerset countryside. Three fairly steep ascents and one boggy patch, but generally the going was good and the company excellent. A good meal & beverages were consumed at the Inn, a lovely day out!


Another busy session in the craft room with necklace making! Inspired by necklaces

previously purchased by two of our group, we were able to make bespoke jewellery using old scarves from charity shops (long thin ones) or material offcuts.

The material strips were sewn to make a tube and then filled with old marbles or wooden beads of various sizes. To separate the beads some used other beads, tied a knot or wrapped thick threads around the material. We were able to display some of our creations at the Monthly Meeting in the afternoon and received some lovely comments from other members. We do love this group.

Cinema and Theatre

A visit to The Theatre Royal, Plymouth in February to see Carlos Acosta, a Cuban-British director and ballet dancer. The performance ‘On Before’ was in homage to his late mother and a very personal work. Laura Rodriguez, an original member of his dance company performed alongside him. The work tells the story of a doomed relationship between a man and a woman: an exploration with exhilarating highs and very tragic lows. It is set to a very diverse musical repertoire from Handel to contemporary Cuban music and culminating in a stunning live choir. I found it to be a very modern interpretation, both balletic and gymnastic. The way they moved and intertwined their bodies was incredible and very moving. However, others may have found it less classical and too modern for their taste. That’s the joy of the Arts! Great company and a very enjoyable evening.


Since we last wowed our readership with details about the awakening interest amongst the citizens of Cullompton, our interest group members have valiantly managed to meet up on most Fridays through March and into April, despite often encountering “damp” and cold weather conditions. We optimistically hope for a warm, dry spell, now that the clocks have moved forward into BST. Which fact, of course, now means that our Friday afternoon gathering time will change to 2.00pm.

Learn to Draw

Another Learn to Draw course has come to an end with 10 members all taking their first steps into an adventure with art. It has been my privilege to watch and support as they learnt about drawing with graphite pencils, developed new skills and understanding and created some wonderful work. Whether learning about Observation, Values or Shading, or we were joining in on a Draw Along, participation was enthusiastically and motivated right up to the end of the course. Thank you to our small group hosts Gill and Josy, for your welcoming hospitality and willingness to accommodate our sessions in your homes. And thank you to all members of this Learn to Draw course for trusting me with the start of your journey into art.

Art in Action

Continue to enjoy painting together twice a month. The photos below show some examples of our work in March. There are spaces available if you are interested in joining us. We look forward to welcoming you."

Jazz Appreciation

We have spent an enjoyable March visiting a variety of gigs in local south west venues, despite the wet, cold and windy weather conditions, made slightly easier now that we are enjoying later sunsets and lighter evenings. The list of SW jazz gigs for April has been mailed to group members.


For our March meeting the members of the Photographic Group pooled their resources to create their own pop-up studio. It was mainly Paul and Paula who produced the equipment. As for the rest of us it was as the saying goes, 'all the gear, but no idea!'. Thankfully we had Paul and Paula to lead the meeting with explanations of what each piece of equipment does. We had the chance to try different lighting effects and to experiment with the equipment for a range of photos. Not everything was successful, but sometimes it is better to learn through your mistakes.

The photographic challenge this month was 'Looking Up' and was won by myself with an unusual shot of alien jellyfish taken at Wake the Tiger. I tried to play it cool that I had won, but it gives you such a boost to win our tiny trophy for the month.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 29th April at 11:00. We will be meeting at Trisha's house. Thank you to Paul and his wife for hosting in March.

The photographic challenge for this month is symmetry. Which sounds an easy subject until you start to take photos. Even people’s faces are not symmetrical, which forces you to look beyond the obvious to get an eye-catching image. What would you photograph? A building - ok, but how are you going to make your picture stand out from all the others? This is what makes our members so talented, they think outside the box to produce stunning pictures.

Committee Report

Following a busy March Executive Committee meeting it was resolved that the subscription fees for Culm Valley u3a Full and Associate members will remain the same for the coming year at £10 for a Full member and £6 for an associated member. We feel this remains a competitive price and allows us to provide good meeting facilities and speakers for the Monthly Meetings.

We will be completing our Annual Return for the Third Age Trust (TAT) in the next month and as for our committee meeting on 27 March we had 197 Full Members. We pay a sum of money to the TAT which enables us to ask for support and information if required to ensure the smooth running of CVu3a.

Thank you for supporting CVu3a and to all our Group Contacts for their continued dedication. We hope that you enjoy the Interest Groups you have joined. Check into our website from time to time for all kinds of useful information at:

See you next time.

Lorna Knowles

Business Secretary

Committee the Groups Co-ordinator

We have come to the end of the 6-week short course ‘Live for Today, Plan for Tomorrow’. This course has been a tactful, well researched and delivered course which has been appreciated by those attending. 

The current ‘Learn to Draw’ short course has also ended but is being repeated with new members this October. You may have read that Sue has new courses that are starting soon too!

I have had the honour of visiting some of our Interest Groups over the past months. Thank you to those members who made me feel welcome. I met members who might only belong to one group and do not come to our Monthly Meetings. I am delighted to say that everyone says that they are enjoying themselves! That is credit to those of you who are the contact/coordinators for out Interest Groups, thank you. 

Thanks also to those members who do so much behind the scenes or even front of house like our monthly Tea Team. 

I have spent quite a while looking at how other u3a run their groups. It is interesting to note that some are run with only many academic interest groups, or only lots of ‘outdoorsy’ ones, only arty ones, or loads of social get togethers for coffee and a chat. Our Culm Valley group, I think, has a really good balance and that, in part, is down to you! 

If you can offer your help, in any way please do get in touch with me or any Committee member as we would love to hear from you.


44 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 comentario

Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor
20 abr

An enjoyable condensed version of the published “UPDATE”. Thank you, Sue HL.

Me gusta
bottom of page