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  • Writer's pictureSue Hooper-Lawrie

UPDATE - October/November 2023

Our main speaker on Thursday 2 November 2023 at 2pm is Dr Gavin Haig who makes a welcome return to Culm Valley u3a after 4 years. Some will recall his amusing talk in late 2019 when he regaled us with hair-raising stories of his early medical career as a surgeon! His November's topic 'Creating a Wildlife Garden' stems from Gavin's lifelong interest in the natural world. He has studied the healing properties of many native plants, with much of the work carried out in his own garden on the River Exe. The garden has featured on TV, has a great variety of habitats, and even provides a home for one of the rarest butterflies in Europe - the Marsh Fritillary. “My passion for wildlife and the natural world began 60 years ago or more, during an idyllic boyhood in rural Essex, which allowed me to explore woods and streams, to climb trees and make dens, and to run freely in wildflower meadows, scattering rainbows of butterflies. I was enchanted then, and I’m enchanted still, though the world is very different now."

We'll also hear about the award winning healing garden Gavin developed beside the inpatient wards at Tiverton Hospital.

, Before we hear from Gavin we will welcome...

Jackie Hammond from Mid Devon Mobility, who is coming along to introduce their services and talk about volunteering opportunities with this local support organisation. Mid Devon Mobility is a local charity whose services are immensely useful for many who are less mobile and less independent in our community, and we’re pleased to offer Jackie the opportunity to raise awareness of what they do amongst our members.

From the Committee …

The Committee had their third quarterly meeting of 2023 at the end of September, with lots on the Agenda to keep us busy.

Key points decided were:-

  • The December meeting will be on FRIDAY 1ST DECEMBER with entertainment provided by singing due Lesley and West. We will also be serving sausage rolls and mince pies as in previous years.

  • The Art and Craft Exhibition at our September AGM meeting was so well received by members that this will now become an annual event.

  • We are pleased that we are able to keep the membership fees the same as last year, £10 for Full membership and £6 for Associate membership. This will be for the full 12 months 1st January to 31st December 2024.

The Membership Section of the website is being redesigned with the assistance from Marian, our new Membership Secretary, to try and make it more user friendly. When renewing membership you will be asked to complete an updated Membership Application/Renewal Form which will include an "Emergency Contact phone number", in case of an accident whilst on any u3a trip. Marian will begin processing renewals from the November meeting.



The time is approaching for us to renew our membership of Culm Valley u3a. Our membership year now runs from 1st January to 31st December. As from our monthly meeting in November you will be able to pay your membership fees for 2024.

We will continue to not take any monies to attend our monthly meetings.

We hope you will renew your membership and continue to enjoy being a member of Culm Valley u3a

Marian Luck

Membership Secretary

A new App for Culm Valley u3a Members.

We are currently trialling a new app created specifically for Culm Valley u3a members. If you would like to help trial the new app please email for more information.

News from the Interest Groups


We started the new season with a new project. Two members, Lorna and Jean, lead us through the techniques of glass painting. Everyone found the artist in them and had a fun time painting various objects from glass mirrors to vases.

Art in Action

This month our members had the opportunity to exhibit their paintings at the annual general meeting and we appreciate all of the positive comments that we received for our work.

September was also the month for the Devon Open Studios, an annual event, and we enjoyed

visiting a few local artists in their studios.


We met for the first time on Tuesday 3rd October, to start work on our quilts. To begin, we are learning

o make a series of quilting blocks (squares), with different patterns, using hand stitching - and we

started with a design called tumbling blocks. Each person brought along a selection of fabrics to use

on their design. There was lots of enthusiasm amongst us and it will be interesting to see how we

progress in the coming weeks.


Seven group members braved the murk and drizzle to visit the Walronds garden in Cullompton.

Penny the lead gardener took us right round the garden, including the walled section which is rarely

open to the public. The challenge to identify the varieties of apple tree proved a bit of a damp squid

as finding any fruit left wasn’t easy. The medlar and fig tree were well laden though and there were a

few quince. The rarest plant in the garden (from Pitcairn) didn’t look its best this year, but fortunately

Penny had a photo from last year which was much more impressive. Fortunately, the sun came out

while we were there, but the rain returned at the end when we adjourned to Garden Terrace for a

beverage and apple cake. Terry.

Four members enjoyed a beautiful day at the Malvern Autumn Show after nearly boarding the coach

going to London for a protest March. There was so much to see at the Show that we agreed two days

were really needed. Adam Frost's talk was informative and inspirational in that he is dyslexic. From

Barnstaple he began his career studying at Bicton College and then working for North Devon Parks

Department before his big break came later after working with Geoff Hamilton.


The photography Group met for their September meeting at Trisha Luxtons house where we were

made very welcome. Our challenges for the month had been 'Pathways' and 'Bubbles'.

As usual the standard of the images was high which made judging the two categories extremely

difficult. However it was Trisha Luxton who received the trophy for the month.

Our instant challenge, during the meeting, was 'Still Life' and Trisha bravely gave us permission to go

in any cupboard we wanted and to use whatever we wished as props. There were some interesting

groups; beer glasses and weed killer, marrows and wood, and logs with feather dusters. Not your

average still life portraits.


A lovely scenic walk for twelve of us last month. We parked at Old Road car park, Tiverton then

climbed up the very steep Exeter Hill allegedly 0.5 miles, seemed longer!!! Views at the top were

quite spectacular, one side towards Bickleigh and Crediton the other over Tiverton and surrounding

valley. Weather then decided to rain a prolonged shower as we descended through fields and

grassland. Finally the Tiverton Canal towpath where the rain finally ceased. It was a rather

bedraggled dozen that turned up at the canal tearooms for lunch. Thank you Margaret for guiding us

on this walk. I think we all enjoyed it.


An excellent turnout for our monthly quiz on the 15th September, with a brilliant set of questions

prepared by Paula and Sue, including 'Flags of the world' 'Food and drink-Dingbats' (e.g. Mother May

= Marmite!) and 'single letter answers'. This was followed by another of our extra quizzes run on the

October. The quiz topics for these extra sessions are purchased online and there have been some

interesting questions and topics. The way these quiz questions are presented has also introduced

some changes to how we run our own meeting. In comparison to our regular quiz feedback has been

positive and people are enjoying the extra sessions.

On the 5th October 8 members of the quiz group, split into two teams, the Hagglers and the Wimbles, and made their way to Withycombe Rugby Football Cub for the Annual Regional u3a Quiz, where our hosts the Exmouth & District U3A made us very welcome. An excellent, challenging (for some of us) and very

enjoyable quiz session was run in two halves with refreshments served at half time, which were both very welcome and well organised. I am delighted to say that one of our teams, The Wimbles, were declared runners up, with the Exeter u3a coming first. This will mean next years annual u3a quiz event will be held somewhere in Exeter.

Jane Austen Short Course (Closed Course)

We are all quite engrossed in this course and so far we have covered books with a discussion,

printed info sheets and a film. This includes Jane Austen’s life and England at that time; Northanger

Abbey; Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice (2 sessions).

Next we will be doing: Mansfield Park; Sense and Sensibility and Emma.

Many thanks to all for your efforts, reading, producing info sheets for the group and for your

enthusiasm. Our meetings are held in Hemyock. We will complete the course in the new year- and

possibly consider a trip.

Learn to Draw Short Course (Closed Course)

The 2nd Learn to Draw course launched with 12 new faces who have done little to no drawing in the

past. In 2 groups of six we meet in members’ homes for one session and then the next session is a

together at The Hayridge, Cullompton Library. As well as learning about the 7 Elements of Art, we

also looked at pencils and what can be achieved with them; erasers which as for far more than just

rubbing out mistakes, blenders which proved a big hit when it comes to shading, and various other

tools and materials used in drawing. Many had had a go at the homework set at the pre course

introductory meeting, the results of which were impressive. All in all a great start to the new LtD



Our members must, by now, have clocked up something of a u3a record? This very active bunch

began gathering weekly in September 2019, very soon after CVu3a‘s inaugural meeting, and with the

exception of lockdowns during the Covid Pandemic, have achieved a year-round weekly presence in

the serene environs of the Walronds House gardens over 4 years! Our playing membership has

grown in that time, and we are still most definitely learning more about our sport as well as about

ourselves, week by week! Plus, we laugh a great amount, enjoy the social contact with fellow players

and benefit greatly from being active and alive in the fresh air, thus fulfilling all the main aims of u3a

involvement! We also contribute financially towards the upkeep of the Walronds House through

modest voluntary weekly donations whenever games take place.

The sport has been known to become somewhat addictive, so much so that some u3a members

have been enthused to join local Devon or Somerset Petanque Clubs, and we are delighted to learn

of one such CVu3a member who has played for Devon in a SW Counties league competition recently!

Live Jazz Music Appreciation

As the months roll by, many members of this group have been getting out and about to enjoy live

Jazz music at a variety of different venues and enjoying the foot-tapping energising rhythms

played by a truly amazing number of very talented musicians. It is most heartening to realise that

there are so many gifted persons residing in the South West region, and some are based within our

u3a catchment area; so we are well blessed indeed!

Draw It!

Recently the group have tackled Eyes, Ears, Noses. Now we are turning our attention to Autumn and the seeds, berries, turning leaves, dying leaves and plants and mushrooms which all come along at this time of year. We have recently had two new members attend who joined CVu3a just to be able to come along to Draw It!

Coming up after Autumn we have a session on drawing glass and then get all Christmassy with two sessions on Snow, Holly, Baubles, Ribbons, Candles, Garlands, Presents, Christmas Trees, Christmas Gnomes and Christmas Flowers!

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 monthly newsletter for more information about arrangements for upcoming meeting/s.

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