top of page
  • Writer's pictureSue Hooper-Lawrie

UPDATE November/December 2023

Friday 1st December Meeting

Unfortunately our booked speakers Lesley & West had to cancel at short notice. However we are delighted that we have an absolute gem of a replacement from amongst our members!

So with great pleasure I will be introducing Julie De'Ath Lancaster at our December meeting. Julie has been a musician all her life. Singing and making music with others is her most loved activity besides walking, gardening and embroidery. If that makes her sound like an amateur, far from it. She has had an impressive musical career since studying at Trinity College of Music in London, where she won the College’s Elisabeth Schumann Prize. Her opera and oratorio engagements as a solo soprano have taken her to the great cathedrals of Southwark and Carlisle, to Spain with the Mozart Singers as well as to manyUK concert halls. Working for Devon County as an Advisory Teacher for Music, she instigated the setting up of the Devon Youth Choir. Some of you will know Julie as the Musical Director of the Sheldon Singers, a widely respected chamber choir who perform nationally and internationally.

So, as you can imagine we are promised a fun afternoon, a veritable pot pourri of music in a variety of styles from stage shows, classical songs and carols. Some anecdotes, but most of all participation in some lovely lively music. Just what we need for our Christmas meeting!

From the Committee …

I attended the Third Age AGM on 6th October, via video link, and I must say that it was a very well presented and executed meeting given the subject matters!

Some of you will have heard me give a brief review of the main points that I feel, as Business

Secretary I should let you know about, at our well attended Monthly Meeting on 2nd November.

It was great to see so many of you turning out on a blustery day to hear Dr Gavin Haig, always an

entertaining listen, and our thanks to Gill Sole for compiling our Speaker Calendar. I hear she is

already well on her way to presenting another great selection for 2024, but before that we hope to see you all for the Christmas Party on Friday 1 December 2023.

Third Age AGM points of interest:

1. THE AGE PROFILE IS INCREASING – The Chair wanted to make it clear that there is ‘No

lower age limit’ for joining the u3a as long as you have the time to be involved and enjoy events.


– it will remain at £4 per member, which is great and means that our charges to you can remain

low at £10 until December 2024.

3. SUSAN PARKER will serve as an Ordinary Director for the SW – Susan has been involved

with the u3a movement for many years.

4. To vote on the Ordinary Resolution 3

Now that the u3a has in excess of 1000 u3as, with the South East Region representing

around 20% of the National figure, we request that the organisational review of the Third Age

Trust is mandated to consider a mechanism to give greater status and input to smaller


Proposed by Hastings and Rother u3a and seconded by Hailsham and District u3a

NOT CARRIED as 143 FOR and 440 AGAINST (I voted AGAINST).

5. To Vote on the Ordinary Resolution 4 This Annual General Meeting calls on the Third Age Trust


1. Adopt as a key strategic priority an increase in national u3a membership to at least 500,000

by the end of 2028.

2. Implement regular and substantial national promotional activities that enable this goal to be


3. To report on the implementation and impact of promotional activities at Board meetings and in Annual Reports.

Proposed by Royston u3a and seconded by Tring u3a.

CARRIED as 409 FOR and 187 AGAINST. (I voted FOR).

There is a hope that membership will increase by 3 – 4% over 5 years.

The Committee will meet for one more time before the end of the year and I would like to thank

all of them for their great work during 2023.

We look forward to 2024 and continuing to provide a successful, vibrant group at Culm Valley u3a.

Lorna Knowles

Business Secretary

One Tap of your phone - CVu3a members App!

A BIG thanks to those of you who have already joined the new App but we still have loads of room for more members to join us.

As we continue to develop as a u3a, and utilise a variety of ways to communicate with members, we are pleased to announce a new App specifically for Culm Valley u3a members. Once loaded onto your phone, One tap of your phone will provide you with all the latest Culm Valley u3a news, allow you to chat with others in your interest groups, and let you check up on coming events. All this as well as a general CVu3a chat on the Home page.

Each Interest Group has its own chat page. This means arrangements can be made for meetings or other events, questions can be asked to clarify information, photos can be shared from a recent meeting or event, information can be passed on which other members in the group might find interesting or helpful, etc. Each Interest Group can make the group chat whatever they want it to be.

We are now looking for about 30 members who are willing to help trial the App, before we make it available to all members. If you are willing to give it a go, this is what we need you to do:-

1. Go to the App Store. This will be different depending on whether you have an iphone or Android phone. The App can also be used on an iPad and Android tablet.

2. Type into the search bar the word Wix Spaces. Find the App in the list and tap it to install.

3. Once the App is installed tap it to open it.

4. If you are asked for an invite code - enter the code – ANCCOH (all in capital letters) and tap “done”

5. Tap on the blue button near the bottom of the screen to Send Join Request.

Please remember that this is a trial so there may be some teething issues. If you experience any please drop Sue an email – Thank you for being willing to help with this.

News from the Interest Groups

Theatre, Music, Cinema Group

Four of us went to the Brewhouse in Taunton this month to see The Beach Boyz. What a fantastic show they produced, excellent musicians and the harmonies were so good. We all realised very quickly we knew all the words to the Beach Boys sixties classics. During the second half we were clapping, and doing a seated pretend surfing to their music. It is a night we will always remember, an exceptionally talented tribute band.

Art in Action

This month we have been sharing tips, exchanging ideas and some of us painting a still life at our sessions.

We have already been out to our Christmas Lunch, we chose November for a change and went to The Lost Kitchen at Chettiscombe. It was superb, great food and service, highly recommended.


Our monthly meeting was full of admiration for each others photographs. One of the categories was 'Your Best Photograph Ever' which brought about a lot of discussion on whether you chose a technically brilliant picture or went for an image which meant a lot to you personally. Since we were allowed to submit three photos there was a good variety of both. We looked at all the photographs as a group and asked more about why the member had chosen that particular photo. We heard stories of wonderful holidays, exciting adventures, people we loved and the patience to wait for 'the photograph'. The monthly competition became a battle between husband and wife, but Penny Palmer managed to snatch the trophy this month.

This is such a friendly, curious and creative group which is a credit to u3a in general and CVu3a in particular.

Behind The Scenes

Members enjoyed a great day out in October, the highlight undoubtedly being the fascinating guided tour of Shepton Mallet Prison. Billed as the world's oldest prison, its long history dates from 1625 to its closure in 2013 giving us a view of prison life through the centuries. During WWII the prison because a British military prison and the top secret repository for the National Archives, including the Magna Carta and Domesday Book which were relocated from the Public Record Office for safe keeping. In more recent times the prison has housed suffragettes as well as some notorious inmates from London's gangland including the Kray Brothers. This diverse history was enthusiastically brought to life by our two guides and the two hours flew by before we moved on to the beautiful city of Wells for lunch and some sightseeing.


Lovely Monday morning spent playing games, what a fun way to start the week! Today we played Triominos, Yahtzee Poker and Catchphrase with lots of laughter all around. New players always welcome.


Mo led the group last month with 16 intrepid folk braving the predicted wet weather for our walk from the Culm Valley Inn. It was wet underfoot in a couple of places but not impassable. The rain held off until later. We set off uphill towards Pitt Farm passing the village children's playground on route. Across the fields down to the river before slowly climbing uphill where we were rewarded with good views of the Beacon and the surrounding area. We saw a variety of mushrooms, an occasional buttercup and a mass of cyclamen, very good for late October. Luckily it was now all downhill on quiet lanes before crossing fields where we saw sheep aplenty before finally crossing the river bridge back to CV Inn for a very welcome lunch and chat which we all enjoyed.


October Craft Group task was to learn about Dorset Buttons and let our artistic side explore this unique craft. A Dorset button is a style of craft-made button originating in Dorset. Their manufacture was at a peak between 1622 and 1850, after which they were overtaken by machine-made buttons from factories in the developing industries of Birmingham and other growing cities. The group did their best to emulate this craft and you may well see some of the Crafters wearing one now and again. It did become quite addictive!


The completed and near completed quilts are some that a couple of members of the group had been working on for ‘some time’ (several years!) however, this is considered quite normal in the quilting world! During the last couple of sessions, we have been making quilting block designs called rail fence and maple leaf. It’s interesting discussing colour palettes, fabric patterns and techniques used - you really have to think about the outcome of your block before committing to cutting your fabric. Everyone appears to be enthusiastic about their quilting journey and we enjoy a chat - and coffee and biscuits along the way too.

Learn to Draw

“The course is challenging and it is fun! The twelve new Learn to Drawers have had meetings in members' homes and at The Hayridge Centre and although most of us said we can't draw, Sue told us everyone can draw, and we are starting to believe her. With her encouragement and enthusiasm we have followed the first session with Session Two when we learnt about Light and Shadow, Gesture Drawing, Focal points, Space and Perspective and other topics. Quite a lot and we have homework!” Helen.

“I can still recall my art teacher's words on my school report from 1965, 'Gillian tries hard but has no artistic talent whatsoever'. Perhaps that had some bearing on my enrolling on Sue's 2nd Learn to Draw course, to see if it was true. But also it's what u3a is all about - learning something new in later life. So when the opportunity presented itself to learn from Sue, a hugely talented self taught artist I put my name down. See for yourself the challenge I set her - to draw my chrome cafetiere - an exercise in drawing reflections which she produced that same evening!

So far I'm thoroughly enjoying the group sessions and just about managing the homework, although it's challenging and finding enough time is equally so! It's early days but I'm hoping to prove my art teacher wrong - if only I could tell her so!” Gill

“Inspiring, motivating … frustrating! Combined with Sue’s wealth of knowledge, talent and encouragement …… an opportunity not be missed!” Annie


We had an excellent turnout for our last visit to a garden in 2023. Fifteen members visited Chevithorne Barton, owned by the local Amory family (Knightshayes) and a member of the National Garden Scheme. Apart from the lovely gardens it is home to the largest and most comprehensive collection of oak trees in the UK, and possibly the world. The estate is beautifully laid out with rock gardens, herbacious borders, woodland and open pasture, which since 1984 has been host to the National Collection of Oaks. An enjoyable afternoon finished off with tea and cake in the barn. Gwen

Whilst at Chevithorne Barton we had a discussion as to why so many places have the word Barton in their name. Walter did some research and replied; "Barton" means Farm or Farmyard in Olde English. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday, I have lived in the area for 30 plus years and never visited the estate. Paula and I enjoyed it very much. Walter

A very festive looking Old Well Garden Center was the venue for our penultimate meeting of 2023. There was lots of laughter with fourteen members meeting for coffee, cake and our annual quiz., We welcomed Mick as a new member to the Gardening Group. Carole and Julie were the joint winners of the quiz this year.


Last month we met on 11th October and our subject was ‘then the phone rang’. Amazing the impact a ringing phone can have - even an expected one. But things can take a different turn when it’s

unexpected as the group illustrated in both a serious and humorous way.


We have held two quiz meetings since my last report, the spread of topics from those setting the questions is always interesting and generally cover subjects to suit all tastes, this includes the quiz on the 20 October which was prepared by Liz and Andy; with the clever use of technology a ‘music round’ was introduced , which resulted in some lovely memories of well known TV theme tunes. In addition a picture round of famous faces had us all guessing, and I heard some interesting debate amongst the teams for the ‘more or less’, round.

Thanks to Gail who stepped in to run the ‘extra’ winter quiz on the 3 November, rounds included:- words and abbreviations, on this day 26 October, and two rounds asking ‘who am I ‘and ‘where am I’

The support for these additional quiz meetings, which are run during the months September to April, has been very good, however we still have space for anyone new wishing to join us. Details of meeting dates can be found at the bottom of this newsletter.

Making the most of your u3a!

Our short courses and workshops are proving to be quite popular with you all. Our new Quilting Interest Group is now full and has a waiting list. You are indeed an enthusiastic lot! Thank you.

Do you think A Bus Pass Safari Group would work? What about a MOTO Group for Members On Their Own?

Would you like to discuss the news headlines in more detail with other members…or other topics?

Can you show a group of members how to cook 3 tasty and inexpensive meals for one person? Or maybe how to make cake decorations from icing?

The list is endless it just needs YOUR input. So, please do get in touch with me and let’s see how we could make our u3a better than it is already!

CVu3a Groups Coordinator

And There's more .....

Calligraphy Workshop

In the new year one of our members, Yvonne, will be holding a day Workshop on Calligraphy. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn a new, fun and very useful skill. Calligraphy can be used to make an impression, to make people feel special and to give yourself the pleasure of practicing a relaxing and meditative hobby. Please get in touch with Barbie, in the first instance, to put your name down for the workshop.

Two new possible groups for Culm Valley u3a:-

Ukulele Group.

Many u3as have a Ukulele Group and they are always welcoming and fun. Depending on the level of interest I am thinking of meeting in Uffculme on a morning, either at my own home or at possible places in the village (Village hall or Square Corner or the Woollen Mill), on a day yet to be decided. As soon as a viable number show interest.

The ukulele group would be aimed at all comers, beginners, experienced and advanced players. I myself have moderate skills as a strummer at this time, having played in a u3a Uke band for over a year and have continued to play with another musician for memory cafes etc. However I can teach a complete beginner to play a simple tune in just one hour and a range of simple tunes within a month.

I can supply the music/songs for a wide range of popular interests, from music hall to the Beatles.

If someone wants to purchase a Ukulele I would recommend avoiding the soprano sized cheap £7 toys and go for something a bit more expensive. Any good music shop should be able to advise. Ukuleles come in different sizes, the three traditional sizes are a) Soprano b) Tenor and c) Concert in ascending size. Nimble fingers can play Soprano (A) well, but B and C are the most practical for most people. There is also a larger Baritone but as this is strung differently with different fingering this is best avoided by beginners.

Beginners/Holiday French

This is aimed primarily at those with little or no knowledge of the spoken language but perhaps wanting to go on a visit to France for a holiday or City-Break or to become involved in a Town-Twinning group and greet French visitors. Also as my French is fairly rudimentary it will need to be a self-help group although if someone experienced and proficient in the language wanted to help that would be most welcome. Focus would be on building confidence with the spoken language rather than the written, and on practical matters such as greetings, booking a room, using the telephone, asking and giving directions, coping in a bar or restaurant, etc. Also some introduction to French culture, traditions, music and food. Most importantly this group needs to be fun and not worry about making mistakes. Again, I would like this to take place in Uffculme on a day and time to be set by those who show interest. I would be happy to provide learning sheets and language exercises. A day or weekend trip to France could be planned for the group for next Summer if wanted. If after six to 12 months we discover we can go beyond the beginner stage then we shall.

If your interested in either of the two proposed groups above

please contact Terence on his mobile: 07714253252

89 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page