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Autumn 2022 is double celebration for Ilkley & Distict u3a

Double birthday celebrations are taking place this autumn for Ilkley & District u3a, our local u3a celebrates its Silver Jubilee, whilst the Third Age Trust, the national u3a charity, has reached its 40th birthday.

During u3a Week from 17th to 25 September, u3a’s around the country are putting on special events to mark this 40 years milestone. Locally Ilkley & District u3a is celebrating both occasions by inviting the public to a grand Showcase event in the Clarke Foley Centre on Saturday 17th September from 10.30am to 1.00pm.

The u3a movement has grown from strength to strength in the UK over the past 40 years. There are now over 1,000 local u3a’s with over 430.000 members. Liz Thackeray, Chair of the UK u3a movement says, “What we enjoy doing as u3a members is positive ageing in action, and it sends an important message to the wider community that later life is a time of possibility and growth.”

At a local level, Ilkley & District’s Showcase event invites the community to discover what the u3a is all about and the contribution it makes to the lives of older people in our area. Our local charity has mushroomed from a group of like-minded people coming together 25 years ago to start a few activity groups, to a vibrant organisation with over 1800 members. Ilkley & District u3a now has well in excess of 100 interest groups, - giving those in the area who are no longer in full time employment the opportunity to stay active, make new friends, learn something different and have fun. From sports to literature, and languages to music there is an activity to appeal to everyone.

At the event, Group leaders and members will be on hand to chat about what is on offer over a complimentary cuppa. The Showcase also celebrates the positive difference that the u3a has made to many people’s lives during the Covid lockdowns, particularly to combat loneliness. Our local u3a responded with online talks and presentations while many of the interest groups continued to function using Zoom meetings.

One member, Ann Taylor, wrote “I would like to say how grateful I am for all the efforts made during lockdown to keep members informed and entertained. I have found the online programme a great help in isolation, having few family members nearby, and living alone. It was such a help to have a broad range of Zoom presentations.”

Pat Earle commented, “The u3a has been a lifeline to me over the Covid years and I fully appreciate all the time and effort the u3a Committee do and plan to do.”

The u3a offers a way of making new friends and finding new interests when someone’s circumstances change through retirement, bereavement, loss of mobility, or moving somewhere new. Carol Clarke has joined a number of groups since her husband passed away a few years ago. She says, “The u3a is especially helpful when your situation changes or when you move to a new area. It has enabled me to try a lot of new activities and altered my social life for the better.”

Ilkley & District u3a operates across lower Wharfedale with group meetings in Otley, Burley and Addingham as well as Ilkley and Ben Rhydding. Members are drawn from an even wider area for some niche groups such as Classic Cars or Aviation. New members are always welcome and everyone, young and old, is invited along to the Showcase event on Saturday17th September to find out how the u3a is working in our community. Further information on current and future u3a events can be found on the website at ilkleyu3a.org or on Facebook and Twitter.

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