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  • Writer's pictureSue Hooper-Lawrie

UPDATE February/March 2024

March meeting speaker Ruth Croome

Ruth gave an impassioned talk explaining “The work of Mercy Ships” founded in 1978 by Don & Deyon Stephens, and is a global Christian charity bringing hope & healing to those suffering from disability, disfigurement & disease.

Two hospital ships partner with African nations to transform surgical systems & provide free surgery to those most in need. In low-income & lower-middle income countries, nine out of ten people have no access to basic surgical care.

The smaller ship Africa Mercy (16,000tons) has 450 crew. 25% Technical, 25% General & 50% Medical, all are volunteers & pay £12/day for the privilege. The larger Ship Global Mercy (37,000t) with 950 crew members is currently in Sierra Leone, usually the stay is 10 months at port. Hope Centres are left behind (Hospital Out Patient Extension Centre) to continue the good work with many newly trained local staff.

Mercy Ships do much Dental, Orthopaedic, maxillofacial and Eye surgery. Also, palliative care, training staff, dental clinic and much more besides, a real legacy of improved health care.

Our April speaker

Anita Edgar has a remarkable story to tell of how a chance meeting led her to co-found the El Shaddai Charitable Trust, an ISO certified NGO in Goa.  

‘ About 35 years ago while on holiday in Goa India I started a charity rescuing Street children. We now have 7 residential Children’s Homes and a School, also many Slum Schools. I look forward to sharing how it all started with my talk and interesting slides. I am also bringing some beautiful Indian giftware to sell including scarves, jewellery and crafts plus my book “Why Me Why Now”. I look forward to meeting you’. Anita Edgar

If I Get Dementia

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 I’d like my family to hang this wish list up on the wall where I live. I want them to remember these things:

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 I want my friends and family to embrace my reality. If I think my spouse is still alive, or if I think we’re visiting my parents for dinner let me believe those things. I’ll be much happier for it.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 don’t argue with me about what is true for me versus what is true for you.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 and I am not sure who you are do not take it personally. My timeline is confusing to me.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 and can no longer use utensils do not start feeding me. Instead switch me to a finger-food diet and see if I can still feed myself.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 and I am sad or anxious hold my hand and listen. Do not tell me that my feelings are unfounded.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 I don’t want to be treated like a child. Talk to me like the adult that I am.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 I still want to enjoy the things that I’ve always enjoyed. Help me find a way to exercise, read, and visit with friends.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 ask me to tell you a story from my past.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 and I become agitated, take the time to figure out what is bothering me.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 treat me the way that you would want to be treated.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 make sure that there are plenty of snacks for me in the house. Even now if I don’t eat, I get angry, and if I have dementia, I may have trouble explaining what I need.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 don’t talk about me as if I’m not in the room.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 don’t feel guilty if you cannot care for me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s not your fault, and you’ve done your best. Find someone who can help you or choose a great new place for me to live.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 and I live in a dementia care community, please visit me often.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 don’t act frustrated if I mix up names, events or places. Take a deep breath. It’s not my fault.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 make sure I always have my favourite music playing within earshot.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 and I like to pick up items and carry them around, help me return those items to their original places.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 don’t exclude me from parties and family gatherings.

𝐼𝒻 𝐼 𝑔𝑒𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒾𝒶 know that I still like receiving hugs or handshakes.

News from the Interest Groups


On 15th February John Hayston lead a 5 mile walk around little Halden, a lesser-known walking area 3 miles from Teignmouth on the B3192, National Trust car park. We met at 10.30am and the weather was fine allowing views towards Dartmoor with Haytor clearly visible. On a clear day you can see Portland Bill in the other direction, but we knew we were on borrowed time as a band of heavy rain was forecast to arrive midday and already making the view misty. The walk is a mix of open heathland, wide tracks or lanes with light traffic and some woodland including a short stretch on the Dart Way. The end of the walk includes a slight detour down a steep footpath to Lidwell Chapel, a 13th century Chapel, now in ruins, with a dark history of villainous monks!

Just as we found the chapel the rain came in on queue, giving us a soggy end to an interesting walk. Lunch was at the Brightside Diner opposite Exeter racecourse on the A38. Generous pots of tea were consumed together with excellent all-day-breakfasts and interesting salads.

Behind the Scenes

The first event of the year for Behind-the-scenes members will be a visit to Taunton Racecourse for the RNLI Charity Race Meeting. We will be accompanied by a guide who will explain how the racecourse is operated and the betting system. There will be no pressure whatsoever to place a bet, we are more than welcome to watch and absorb the atmosphere. The date is 26th March, meet at the racecourse around 12.30pm, the exact time to be confirmed, individual cost will be £11.00 per head.

Cinema and Theatre

This month five of us travelled, via the Falcon bus at £4 each return, to Plymouth to see the Drifter Girls, a trip down memory lane with the famous group the Drifters. With super music, dancing and acting the cast were stunning. We were up clapping, singing and dancing. A brilliant day out. The next will be a group seeing a famous ballet dancer, Carlos Acosta.  Some have been to see Wicked the show in Bristol.

In July two of us have booked seats circle A19 and A20 for the musical Officer and a Gentleman on the 3rd of July in Torquay. Another group will see the musical The Devil Wears Prada the music has been written by Elton John we have been told. In 2025 a Berry’s bus is going to see Torvill and Dean in Birmingham. Would anyone like to join us? There is a live streaming of Titanic the musical on the 7th March at the Tivoli. There is opera and so many brilliant plays, talks, and shows for every taste, all in easy reach. Lots going on at the Brewhouse and Northcott both have good websites. Check out the candlelight concerts in Exeter Cathedral coming up in the next couple of months. 

Beginners French Conversation.

We are a small group, keeping to just six members, who meet in each other’s homes either in Uffculme or Willand fortnightly on Monday mornings. We keep our numbers small to facilitate learning, developing confidence to speak French and to have fun. Our strategy for learning is to build up personal scripts that we can use in everyday situations such as on a short holiday to France. Focus is on simple oral skills, not written or complex/advanced conversations.

In addition, we also try to incorporate some cultural elements. There is currently a small waiting list of people wanting to join.

Ukulele Group

We haven’t adopted a name for this group of players yet, although quite a few have been proposed. Most of the players are complete beginners although some have previous experience on the guitar, other instruments or in choirs. At present we are learning some new strumming patterns in addition to the basic Down-Up strum, such as the Island or Calypso strum. Currently our songs range from the 1950’s to 2000’s. Yes, we sing as we strum! At present we meet weekly on a Thursday morning in Uffculme. Our numbers are slowly growing and we are searching for new, more appropriate premises to meet. We welcome new members, beginners or experienced, some individual tutoring is offered to complete beginners.


During the last couple of sessions, we’ve had a catch up on the Drunkards Path block and any other outstanding blocks. We’re also starting to prepare the sashes and posts.  These are the pieces which frame each of the blocks. When sewn together, around all of the blocks, the quilt will be its general, but not quite finished, size. Next steps will be to ‘quilt’ (this is to sew in the filling) the completed blocks and add the backing.

I think we’re all starting to look forward to seeing how our completed quilts will look.

Some members have also been working on other projects too.  


The instant challenge for this month was Hats and Wigs which produced some wacky photos and showed the fun side of our members. The monthly topic was 'Love' which was approached with gusto.

Everybody had a different view of love, from a love-struck budgie to loved up couples and not forgetting that special love that people have for their dogs.

It was a very close competition, but first prize was won by Paula and Russ Fabulous photos from these two, but everyone's pictures showed expertise and imagination.

Our meeting this month was held at the home of John MacDougall. This gentleman has converted his garage into a photographic studio and we were lucky enough to have a lesson in how to take outstanding portraits and how to effectively use lighting and filters. He demonstrated his talk by taking our portraits which was such a privilege. He later emailed us these photographs for our own use. All John asked in return was a donation to the hospice in North Devon where his granddaughter attends.  His portraits are amazing and we feel so lucky to have both met him and his wife and to own our own portraits Usually we are at the camera end looking out. You can find out more about John and his quest and bag yourselves your own family or solo portraits later in the newsletter.

Inspired by our visit to John’s studio our next meeting on 24th March will hopefully be at Paul Snell’s home where we are going to create our own studio using all the equipment, we can cobble up between us. There is no instant challenge this month, but the monthly topic is 'Looking Up'.


Yet again our busy leader Lin led a very creative morning doing Silk Painting. New to some

of us, this certainly tapped into our creative juices with superb results. Using a ‘silk’ fabric and silk paints we tried two different techniques, or as Barbie put it “Plain and Ready Salted”. ‘Plain’ means using a resist to draw an outline before filling it in with colour keeping the colours separate. ‘Ready Salted’ is when the silk has drips of paint on it which soaks in and then salt is added and it is left to dry. The salt gives a texture to the colour. Some of the pictures show works in progress. You would think we sound like experts after only 3 hours but that said we did produce some stunning work. I hope you agree. Lorna


The last of the additional quizzes, which are run during the winter months, was held on the 1st March: St David’s Day. One of our wonderful quizzers, Gail really got into the spirit of things and bought along a batch of delicious Welsh cakes that she had baked that morning for us to enjoy with our teas and coffees. Diolch yn fawr iawn Gail.

The extra quizzes have proved popular and we will run them again from September 2024. In the meantime we will revert to one quiz a month on the 3rd Friday of each month. Another big surprise was the presentation of a beautiful rose to Linda, a gift from all of the quiz group members to mark my birthday (a special one in the high numbers!)  a beautiful card accompanied the rose which had been hand painted by another one of our very talented members Sue W.

Art in Action

No matter what level or medium you use, we are a friendly creative group. Exploring different mediums and sharing tips and ideas. We meet twice a month and have the option of painting a still life. We all have different styles, some of us prefer to just do our own thing, maybe finish a painting that we started at home. We are always interested in hearing suggestions from each other. Maybe find a local art exhibition to visit or an artist tutor to give us a few more tips on our painting. This helps to keep us motivated and we thoroughly enjoy our art sessions. This week some of our group went to the Beehive Theatre in Honiton to see the Gallery exhibition on Monets Gardens, it was a really good evening. The film showed us very informative and interesting information about the art and sculpture of gardens. It included a deeper insight into Claude Monet’s Water Lily Pond as well as seeing a lot of beautiful paintings on the large screen. If all of this is of interest to you, why not come along and join us? You will be very welcome.


Our regular players have continued to meet, most Fridays, through February and March, with only an occasional hiccup due to overly wet weather. Now looking forward to resuming our 2.00pm start for afternoon gatherings, once the clocks have changed to BST. It was most encouraging to meet several potential new Petanque players, at last Thursday’s monthly u3a meeting in the Willand Village Hall; we look forward to these experienced boulists joining in the fun at our Friday gatherings, one fine day, soon!

We are also excited to report that work on the new, two lane, Pétanque terrain at the CCA sports arena, on the outskirts of Cullompton, is proceeding apace with an Easter weekend opening now likely!

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