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UPDATE - February/March 2023

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

In a sad, uncertain and tired world,

we can always be certain that spring will arrive.

Blossom by blossom spring begins.

Our next speaker...

Thursday 2 March 2023 - David Pugsley

Was Jane Austen’s Aunt a Shoplifter?

Well known to many of us as the Mid Devon Councillor for Cullompton Outer Ward, in his talk entitled 'Was Jane Austen's Aunt a Shoplifter?' David will examine one of the earliest cases of shoplifting in high society, when Jane Austen's wealthy aunt was accused of theft in Bath in August 1799 and tried at Taunton Assizes in March 1800. Was she guilty of theft or were the shopkeepers guilty of perjury? Through David's extensive research into this notorious case he will present us with the evidence and ask us, the audience for our verdict.

David has a special interest in causes célèbres in the West Country in the 19th century.

David is also Honorary Archivist of the Western Circuit. From the Middle Ages until 1971 two High Court judges travelled round this circuit twice a year. Since 1971 two High Court judges act as Presiding Judges on the circuit. The Western Circuit is also the organisation of barristers who practice on the circuit.

In April our speaker is none other than

Ann Widdecombe!

Sailing dangerously close to National Treasure status, one of the most outspoken politicians of our time is coming to Culm Valley u3a! Yes, Ann has agreed to speak at our regular monthly meeting at Willand Village Hall on Thursday 6th April, and by reputation promises to be as entertaining, enlightening and as controversial as you would expect.

We are in for a fun afternoon as Ann lifts the lid on life in Westminster and shares behind-the-scenes gossip from some of the nation’s best-loved programmes, including Strictly Come Dancing, Have I Got News For You and Celebrity Big Brother.

We're expecting record attendance at this meeting and will put out extra chairs to make sure there is space for all. So save the date and we'll see you there.

Ann is very generously not charging us for this engagement but will be selling her autobiography and novels on the day, so bring money if you want to take away a signed copy!

From the Committee …

Sadly one of our members Mary Tancock passed away New Years Eve 31st December, after a fall in November. She was 92. A quiet lady and a lovely lady, she will be missed by many of us.

Renewals are due on the 1st April, and it would be helpful if you could renew by Bank Transfer or at the March meeting, as we are expecting a large turnout for the April meeting. Your membership card will be available for you to collect at the monthly meeting after you have renewed.

Members only serve on the Committee for a maximum of three years, so this year in September our Membership Secretary Sue Greenhough and Lorna Knowles our Business Secretary will be standing down as they will have served 3 years on the committee. We are looking for replacements for these members who can then "shadow" the Committee member to familiarise themself with the job, which will then make the transition much easier in September.

Please view CVu3a as a bank "the more you put in the more you will get out". It is the great group that it is because of you it's members, but we can't do it without your help. Everyone can contribute in some way, we all have life experience.

Again at the March meeting I will be waiting to refund you the £3 that you paid for a National u3a Day cream tea that was never held due to Covid restrictions in June 2020. Please bring along your ticket.

News from the Interest Groups


Carole and I were delighted to have so many members attending our first group discussion. Everyone, made valuable contributions to our first meeting. Thank you to those attending pictured here at Streamers coffee house from the right John Hayston, Sue Tremeer, Rhona White, Daphne Dowsing, Carole Eden, Sue Greenhough and Linda and Keith Grantham. We will repeat the meeting every three months and full details of our discussion this week will be emailed out to our group members by the end of the month.

Lunch Out

For our January lunch we went to Bickleigh Mill. We all had very good time. We all chatted, laughed and ate well. There was a bonus too…the pub was warm, that’s got to be a bonus!!

Creative Writing

We held our inaugural meeting on 20th January and got off to a good start.

Our topic was “Describe someone motivated by the need to prove everyone is wrong about them.” Suffice it to say we four writers came up with four remarkable takes on what people will do when they always want to be right. We encompassed the trials of OCD, murder most foul, redemption in the community and work base trials.

Our format is to meet in a member’s home and over coffee read out our offerings and chat about them. We keep it informal and without cutting criticism. Even with a small group there is a diverse breadth of experience and knowledge. We are now getting back into the habit of writing which some of us had let slip.


This months meeting of the Photographic Club produced a lot of laughs and fabulous photos. Our topics for the month were Light, Reflections, Birds and Animals. The range of images was incredible and so good to see people thinking outside the box. Trisha was in a German market and saw plaster birds hanging in a stall. Grabbing a handful she asked her friend to pose with them on her hands and then to the stallholders chagrin put them all back on the stand. Our winner this month was Linda Probert who produced fabulous images.

The instant challenge was all about perspectives. You have probably seen photos of people apparently holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, well we did the same with some miniatures. Pat was such a good sport posing as if posting a letter and then crouching as if to sit in a deck chair. Poor lass probably left feeling like she had been to the gym not with a relaxing U3A group.

Walking Group

On the 19th January a group of dedicated walkers braved the weather and road conditions for a walk around Butterleigh.

A very enjoyable walk was had by all, despite the occasional icy patch, muddy and rocky lane.

The weather was good as the sun shone and the views across the valley were spectacular. After the walk six of us partook of an enjoyable lunch at the Lime Tree in Cullompton.

Gardening Group

Our first meeting of 2023 was very lively with 17 members meeting at The Bakehouse for coffee. Lots of excellent suggestions were given by members, proving yet again the best ideas come from members of the group. I will now try to put them in some sort of order on the calendar for us to visit.


We met on Wednesday 8thFebruary at the Hayridge Centre (Cullompton Library). Thirteen members attended and were soon up and running researching their family history using the library free on-line resources. The group is currently developing its agenda for the spring and summer of 2023 which promises to be an exciting and enjoyable experience. So, watch this space for further news.

History Group

2022 finished with two very enjoyable historical walking tours of Cullompton. Our own Terry Buse stepped in to help out with the first tour and starting with the site of Roman Fort in Cullompton he then took us through the back streets and into medieval times and beyond. The second tour was conducted by local historian Nick Savage and concentrated on the mills close to the leat.

We started 2023 with a visit to Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life. There was so much to see in the museum and we only scratched the surface during our two hour visit. Everything was well displayed and gave a glimpse of what everyday life was like in times gone by.


Interest continues to grow in our regular quiz meetings and we have welcomed a number of new members over the last few months. Each month the quiz questions are prepared by a rota of volunteers, which means the question topics are varied and always interesting, most include a general knowledge section, but even the way these are presented can be very different. The range of questions provides for all levels of quizzers, me at the bottom end, who barely remembers her name most days, let alone remembering the answers to questions that are always on the tip of my tongue but never come forward until the answer is read out, but I always leave the meeting thinking I have learnt something new (if only I could remember what it was!)

Learn to Draw

Our first sessions focused on observations, shapes, shading and shadows. Creating an understanding of how shading creates a 3D image on paper. At our joint session at Bridwell everyone shared their homework and other drawing they had been doing. Progress is very encouraging as is the enthusiasm to develop drawing skills.

New Groups?

Coffee n Chat!

I t has been suggested that we should start a new group for members who are on their own. Maybe a weekly coffee/tea/other morning might be a good idea. The Padbrook Park Hotel might be good venues. A mutually agreeable day and time could be arranged to suit interested members. A wide definition of "on their own" could include singles, divorced, separated, widows, widowers and those whose spouse or partner cannot accompany them.


I have had some interest in starting a Dance Group. Would this be something that you would enjoy? Do you have any experience that you could share?

Please get in touch with Barbie if either of these suggested groups are of interest to you?

If you have any other suggestions for a new Interest Group, please get in touch with me.

Monthly Meetings:

Monthly Meetings are held on the FIRST THURSDAY of each month, except January. The meeting starts at 2pm, with members arriving anytime after 1.15pm. We hold our meetings at Willand Village Hall, Gables Road, Willand, EX15 2PL. Check the Events tab for more information about arrangements for the upcoming meetings.

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