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  • Writer's pictureSue Hooper-Lawrie

UPDATE September/October 2023

Our Speaker on the 5th October is Kay Townsend – who will take us on a guided tour of her “Life on the Fairground”!

Fairground life is in Kay's blood and her family have been showmen since 1876.

Kay takes us behind the facade as she introduces us to her world; the rides, the sounds and what life is like on the road. Kay takes us inside the caravans and we see what health & safety was like back then including how light was produced before the

light bulb!

From the Committee …

The Committee have been busy over the past year working on your behalf. We have attended courses on Trustees Responsibilities/Best Practice and Finance Matters as well as joining in on Devon Link meetings with other u3as to swap ideas. Our Constitution has been updated and with the assistance of Gill Sole the Policies and Procedures have been streamlined to make them more relevant to our group and easier to understand.

We have had many great speakers, with over 100 attending to hear Anne Widecombe in April, bought a new screen and launched our new, much admired, website with Sue Hooper-Lawrie's expertise. In May we decorated the hall with bunting and celebrated the King 's coronation with tea and cake.

From a total membership of 112 in January 2022 we have grown and now have 204 members.

With this increased membership we have been able to reduce and restructure the membership fees to £10 and £6, so that both full and associate members contribute equally after payment of Capitation and Beacon fees; and have abolish the charge for entry to monthly meetings.

Over the past twelve months Barbie has added 7 new Interest Groups with your help; there are now 23 Interest Groups, with most members belonging to at least one, if not more.

We extend our grateful thanks to Sue Greenhough, who is now retiring from the Committee, having served for three years. Marian Luck is now taking over as Membership Secretary.

Finally, the Committee would like to thank all of our members, as without you there would be no Culm Valley u3a. A special thank you for your hard work in the past year, whether you are a Group Leader/Contact, a Tea Lady, or help with putting out the signs and chairs at monthly meetings, without you we could not manage.



The Culm Valley u3a Executive Committee would like to thank all our members for taking

part in the AGM process whether that was by post, email or in person. We hope you all felt

included and for those who could not attend on the 7 September, but sent apologies, we hope

you had a good time too.

We had a super turnout of 81 members on the day and 5 guests, 2 of which have become

members, which really gave a great buzz to the proceedings. Whether that was the

excitement of voting in a new committee, being blown away by the artistic talent of our Art

and Craft Groups, or enjoying the brilliant talk by Dr Todd Gray on the Fire in Exeter in 2016

and St Martin’s Island, there was certainly something for everyone.

We now have 206 members which is fabulous and a testament to all the Group Contacts who

give so much time to offer such a range of activities. Remember if you would like to see a new

activity in the mix, and you are willing to ask if anyone else wishes to join you, then we will

give all the support we can. Barbie Bradbury is the Group Coordinator and all details can be

found on our website

Your Executive Committee for 2023-24 is:-

Margaret Chumbley – Chair Janet Bryant - Vice Chair

Lorna Knowles – Business Secretary Alison Waple – Treasurer

Barbie Bradbury – Group Co-ordinator Marian Luck – Membership Secretary

We look forward to serving you all and continuing to support all our members.

Lorna Knowles

Business Secretary. Art and Crafts Exhibition

Thank you to all those who contributed to the Art and Crafts Exhibition. Please see the supplementary document published alongside this edition of UPDATE

News from the Interest Groups

Lunch Out

A fabulous meal and great company at Beambridge Inn, Wellington.


Our August meeting was a lively affair of stunning photographs and bubbles. Our two challenges for the month were 'Birds' and 'Architecture'. The votes could not have been closer this month.

It was so hard to choose our preferred images. In the end Linda won the Birds section although Penny was just one vote behind her.

The Architecture photographs could not have been more diverse - from a wasps nest to an Elizabethan mansion. The votes went across the board with most people being awarded a vote for their pictures. Adding the votes together Linda Probert was the winner and you will see how beautiful her picture of a blue tit is. You can see every little detail and the angle of the head adds interest. Well done Linda.

Our instant challenge at the meeting was bubbles. This got a little messy, but fun. We used food colouring, lights and a huge amount of washing up liquid and glycerin. Linda went above and beyond the call of duty when I asked her to pose looking as if she was going to drink the frothing brew - she forgot what she was doing and actually drank some. It was just a shame I did not have the camera handy when she started blowing bubbles when she spoke!

We hope you enjoyed seeing a few of our photographs at the recent monthly meeting and on our page here on the website.

Art in Action

This month we took a break from painting inside and instead met at the Tiverton Art Society exhibition. They had some brilliant paintings on display, which we found both interesting and motivating.

We also did some painting “en plein air” at Culmstock, focusing on the bridge and the countryside around us. Luckily we had good weather and it was a great success.

We have also been busy preparing our own paintings for the CVu3a Arts and Craft Exhibition.

We welcome new members of all levels, so do come and join us.


On 5th September, the ladies who signed up for the new quilting group met at Steamers Cafe to discuss how the group would run - and what we’d be aiming for and doing in the coming months. Some of the members were quite familiar with quilting, whilst others had little knowledge at all. I think this will be an exciting group to be part of, as there’s lots of techniques to learn and we agreed that we will all help and support each other, when get down to the ‘getting on with it!’

Lin brought along some quilts and sampler albums for us to look at and to discuss some of the fabrics and methods used, as well as also discussing what equipment we would be using. We also each made a colour palette from scraps of fabric, to match with the colour scheme of a postcard or picture each had brought along. This was to demonstrate one way of selecting a colour scheme for your quilting project.


The August quiz was produced by Richard and Anne who, as usual, produced a really interesting quiz, with topics including, Know your Romans, Family Relationships and Motorway Services; for the latter we were asked to locate which motorways a number of named Service Stations were

located using the map provided. Many of these were familiar to us, but remembering which motorway they were located proved the challenge. In the Ten anagrams of famous writers round 'Timid Hazes' proved the stumbling block for some of the teams (Answer = Zadie Smith).

In September the first of the 'extra' quizzes we are running during the Autumn/Winter months commenced and the numbers of quizzers attending certainly justified the additional session. It was agreed by the group that we would sign up for a subscriptions service for the production of the quiz questions for these extra dates and those present agreed although it was a slightly different format than usual, the questions were good and covered a wide range of topics.

Behind the Scenes

Dunkeswell Airfield

37 members met at the South West Heritage Centre at Dunkeswell Airfield on consecutive Tuesdays in August for an illuminating talk on the part the airfield had played in WW2, acting as a base from which the US Navy and Army Air Forces launched their successful defence action against the devastation being wreaked by the German U Boats. All this and more was explained by the Chairman of the Heritage Trust, who then led an escorted convoy of cars as we toured the perimeter of the airfield, pointing out more interesting facts including that navy pilot Joe Kennedy (Joe Jnr, older brother to JFK) spent much of the war flying from Dunkeswell.

We were all surprised at how much there was to see on our doorstep, and appreciate the significance of this small place in the war effort. With refreshments afterwards at The Aviator Cafe on site, it made for an excellent visit.


Walter writes... "Pauline invited the Gardening Group to visit her garden in Hemyock on Thursday 24th August. Seventeen members all enjoyed biscuits, tea and coffee while Pauline introduced us to a pot history of her home and garden, which had lain empty for 3 years before she and her husband purchased the property in 2020.

The garden has seen a major transformation over the past 3 years from a wilderness of brambles, weeds and an old secret greenhouse completely obscured by vegetation, into a beautiful English garden with new lawns, fruit trees, rose beds and a meandering rustic pergola. Pauline and her husband have worked hard to develop an open space which they clearly love and was much enjoyed by the Gardening Group. "


We were fortunate with the weather for our August walk which saw over twenty of us gather to walk around the Blackborough Woods. We started on well used bridleways encountering two photogenic shires and stopping for our own group photo moment. Continuing on more familiar footpaths across the Common we then descended down the lanes into Saint Hill for a comfort stop by the chapel. Finally following yellow marked pathways across fields and ford having admired stabled racing horses along the way, we returned to Blackborough itself.

In just over two hours and at a leisurely pace we walked around 4 miles enjoying the views and friendly company. Lunch at Keepers Cottage nearby offered welcome refreshment and more chat. Photos were shared and the next walk enthusiastically planned. Contact Gill Sole (add email address) if you would like to join us on one of our walks every month on the 3rd Thursday. You will be most welcome.”

Jazz Appreciation

Jazz Music Appreciation interest Group - various members have enjoyed venturing far and wide to enjoy live jazz music at differing venues throughout August, including a packed Uffculme venue to hear “La Vie en Rose” and for a complete change, “AJ’s Big Band” at Teignmouth Pavilion theatre.

Petanque / French Boule

Members have been encouraged by the return of warmer, drier weather in recent weeks, to play in both morning and afternoon sessions through August and into September, enjoying the calm environment to be found in the serene gardens at The Walronds House, easily accessed on foot

from Cullompton town centre at 6 Fore Street, EX15 1JL.

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