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  • Writer's pictureSue Hooper-Lawrie

UPDATE December/January 2024

The Speaker Slot at our monthly meeting was rescued in December by member Julie de'Ath Lancaster who generously stepped in at the eleventh hour to entertain us with a rousing recital of musical songs and anecdotes from her varied musical career. Julie is a classically trained singer and we learned about her globe-trotting performances both solo and with her choral choir The Sheldon Singers.  Julie bravely led us in some verses from South Pacific and the Sound of Music, finishing up with a couple of Christmas carols which whilst innumerable steps down from her usual high standard, was a very enjoyable end to our Christmas meeting. 

Our February Speaker, Graham Short presents his talk on 'My Life as a Micro Artist'.

Graham, known in the art world as 'The Hands of Genius' is a man of unusual talent who has developed the ability to work between heartbeats. 

His work as a micro-engraver has earned him commissions from the rich and famous and he will share many amusing stories of those he has worked for over the years.  He is in great demand as a speaker across the UK so I'm delighted that he has agreed to journey down from Birmingham to Willand for us!  I'll tell you more about his talk in advance of our February meeting, but wanted to give you just a little flavour of what we can look forward to at the start of our 2024 Speaker Programme.  I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Gill Sole 

News from the Interest Groups


The group ended the year with a short but inevitably hilly walk round Bradninch before gathering at Gill's for a spot of food and drink.  A programme of monthly walks for 2024 will undoubtedly emerge in due course and be announced to all signed up to the CVu3a Walkers list. If you would like to add your name or have more info about the type of walks, we do, please email  The walks take place in the mornings of the third Thursday of every month - everyone is welcome.

Cinema & Theatre group

Three members of the group attended the well supported concert given by the Taunton Military Wives Choir on Saturday night 18th Nov at St Andrews church, Halberton. The show sold 158 tickets, with food & wine donations, the evening made £2000 with money from the raffle they were able to make a donation to the military wives & St Andrews.

The BTS group ended our 2023 programme of trips to interesting places with a timely pre-Christmas visit to the English Spirit Distillery at Treguddick near Launceston and judging by the words of appreciation (not to mention the clanking of bottles carried home on the coach!) the tastings and excellent Christmas lunch certainly went down well.  'Christmas Spirit' (their spiced rum liqueur) is one of the more seasonal tastings we enjoyed from Treguddick's extensive range, and it just about sums up the atmosphere of the day.   Now it's down to Moira, Paula and me, your BTS team, to come up with an equally good programme for next year.  Gill


The photography group met in November, not only for our monthly meeting, but to celebrate Christmas. What was supposed to be a few nibbles ended up as a feast for the taste buds. It also gave us a chance to get to know each other a little better. Our thanks to Trisha for hosting us and her new puppy Minnow for all the snuggly cuddles.

Our monthly challenge was 'Red and Yellow' which you would think would be relatively easy with the autumn leaves. However, to find a leaf with both colours which translated into an effective photo was more difficult.

Our members were clever and creative with their entries which included frogs, fireworks and peppers. The winning entry was from Linda Probert with a raging log fire. It just shows that a good photographer is always looking closely at everything and thinking outside the box. 

Our first meeting of the year is Monday 29th January at 11:00. We will be gathering at Penny and Russ Palmers home in Bradninch. Our monthly challenge is 'Black and White'. Either a black and white item or a scene photographed in black and white. This is in contrast to all the colours of Christmas we will be encountering.

A huge thank you to all the members of the group for their skill and good humour. I have seen our members grow as photographers throughout the year and I am so thrilled with what they achieve. 


During the last couple of sessions, we have been working on quilting block patterns called maple leaf and Dresden plate. Some of the maple leaf patterns were machined together, but the many pieces of the Dresden plate were all hand sewn, in a traditional quilting msanner.  

We’re now tackling an appliqué block - and will have some pictures to show in the next newsletter. 

We wrapped up the last session of the year with some cheery Xmas music, some fabulous mince pies - beautifully home made by one of our members - and a toast for Christmas with some non-alcoholic Nosecco!   


We were very busy preparing for Christmas throughout November and December with Ceramic Bauble painting during November and Danish paper Star making in December with very mixed results! The creativity of this group never ceases to amaze me given we all started with a white ceramic bauble to paint with acrylic paints. The end results speak for themselves and many a Christmas tree would be adorned with these beauties.

Now the Danish paper stars were quite a challenge, even with Lin having sent us a video link beforehand and having partially made ones on the day! How do you get 4 long strips to fold, tuck and bend to make a star? Turns out a lot of head scratching, undoing and finally giving up!! There was only one completed star on the day and that was more by luck than judgement. Not to be beaten, the maker of that star went on to create more having had a eureka moment and lots of photos to follow as she went. Maybe next year we will have another go.

We are now looking forward to another craft packed year ahead with Lin at the helm. She is very patient, thanks Lin.

Ukulele group

The Culm Valley U3A Ukulele Group welcomes all new or would-be players. At present nearly all of the group are beginners but have already started playing music after just one lesson! 

We currently meet at Square Corner in 18 The Square, Uffculme, EX15 3AA on Thursdays 10.00 am to 11.30 am.  There is a small charge of a minimum £2 to cover the cost of rehearsal space, refreshments and some material. If you’re interested in joining, whether or not you have a ukulele yet, contact Terence McCarthaigh by email or messenger:

Art in Action members met up for a painting session in December, having completed two workshops in November we caught up on our own painting projects.

2024 has started well for us painting a still life and finding time for a friendly chat.

If you are interested in joining us, you will be very welcome.

Strollers 1

We meet every 2nd & 4th Tuesday of each month, meeting at 10.30 am & we walk a maximum of 3miles (easy walking) stopping for refreshments either en route or at the end of our walk.

Yesterday 9 of us braved the cold to walk around the Swans neck at Halberton.

It was lovely to be out in the fresh air in excellent company & it wasn't raining.!!!


We meet at the Waldronds each Friday 11am for morning session and 1.30pm for afternoon session. Cold weather doesn’t deter us only heavy rain really here’s a picture of the morning group braving the elements.

Committee Report

As the new year starts, we are delighted to be able to say we have an interim Chair, Sue Greenhough, who will sit on the Committee until our AGM in September.

Most of you will know Sue from being our Membership Secretary for 3 years and for those who are new members you will have to wait until our March monthly meeting to see her in person as she is off to sunnier climes for a few weeks and who can blame her!

Other than that, the Committee don’t have much to report this month and our first Committee meeting will be 27th March. If there is anything you want to ask or comment on in the mean time, then please access our Culm valley u3a website ‘ where you can find out all about our interest groups and more.

We hope that you won’t need to visit the College Surgery with any health issues, but if you do, you will be greeted by some fabulous art on display courtesy of our art and craft groups. It will be worth a visit even if you haven’t an appointment and there is a café’ there too.

We look forward to seeing you soon and thank you for being part of this great Culm Valley u3a.

Lorna Knowles,

Business Secretary CVu3a.

UPDATE Newsletter Editors: Editor: John Hayston & Janey Parrett

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Jan 14

Cracking publishing skills Sue👍😊👏👌

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