New year of activities for Sidmouth U3A group

The U3A Aviation Group

The U3A Aviation Group - Credit: U3A

Sidmouth’s long-running U3A group has launched its new year of activities despite the restrictions imposed by lockdown.
The group, which brings together mostly retired people to broaden their knowledge and experience, has turned to modern technology so that some sessions – though not all – can continue.

Sidmouth U3A chairman Janet Bailey

Sidmouth U3A chairman Janet Bailey - Credit: Janet Bailey

Chairman Janet Bailey said: “There has been an active U3A in Sidmouth for over 26 years, originally started by just a small group of pioneering people with four interest groups.
“We now have over 440 members and before the beginning of lockdown there were 60 active interest groups. Obviously, over the last 11 months, some of the groups have been unable to meet, however, many groups have still been active via Zoom.”
Janet explained that in normal conditions, groups would usually meet in the home of the group leader, or a pub or local venue. Walking groups and bird watching would meet at the beginning of the walk.
Most groups meet once a month, although some do meet weekly.
Anyone who is no longer in full time employment can join, with the majority of members over 50 years of age.
Janet added: “There are many different interest groups such as book groups, walking, art groups – both practical and discussion – history, science, modelling, games, puzzles and even line dancing.
“Anyone wanting further information can contact us via ‘general enquiries’ on the Sidmouth U3A website.”
The U3A year runs from February 1. Membership costs £12 per year, which allows members to attend the monthly open meetings where they have a guest speaker. These are currently held online via Zoom. Members can join any group which has a vacancy.
Janet said: “When a group is full, we try our best to start up another similar group. We also invite any member with a particular interest to start up a group of their own.”
She added: “We have even had two new groups start up during covid – a jigsaw swap group, which operates from a car boot so there is no contact between people, and a poetry group, which is in the process of starting up.”

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