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University of the Third Age, Chester

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Chester U3A Latest News
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Popular Science Autumn Meeting, 1st November 2017

55 members of Chester U3A attended our autumn meeting in the lecture theatre at Bishops Bluecoat C of E School in Boughton. We learned from Laraine Beavis about the invention of the kidney machine. Laraine explained that the first working dialyser was developed by William Kolff in the Netherlands in difficult working conditions under the Nazi occupation, using a washing machine drum, sausage casings and the motor from a sewing machine! From such humble beginnings we have progressed to modern dialysers and wearable kidney machines. John Brinkley gave our second talk on 'minerals and the geologist'. There are over 3000 named minerals, but only 7 of these are important rock forming minerals. John explained the simple tests that can be used in the field to identify minerals and gave us an overview of how they are formed successively as molten rock cools. The next meeting will be on 21st February 2018. Details will be published here and in our News Sheet.

For questions or to be added to an email reminder list, please contact Janet Money (0151-3272-566).


Chester U3A's holiday in the Italian Riviera, September 2017

On 20th September 28 members visited the Italian Riviera, staying in Alassio for a week of glorious sunshine. There were three included trips to Portofino, Dolceaqua in the mountains, and Monaco and Monte Carlo. A great time was had – wandering along the coast to the other villages nearby, lazing by the pool and dancing at night.

Click here for a few photos of the holiday.

Latest issue of U3A's NW Region newsletter now available

Click here to see the latest newsletter from U3A's NW Region. Information is given on forthcoming events, including:


Chester U3A visits Lion Salt Works and Roberts Bakery on 30th August 2017
and Caernarvon Castle and Criccieth on 12th September 2017

The Social Group's trip on 30th August started with a guided tour of the Lion Salt Works at Marston, followed by a visit to Roberts Bakery on the outskirts of Northwich. Then on 12th September the Group visited Caernarvon Castle and Criccieth.

Click here for a few photos.
Group photo of Stan Fielding's family

Stan Fielding – 100 years old!

Congratulations to Stan Fielding who reached the magnificent age of 100 on 26th July. Stan's birthday was marked with a big party for over 120 people at Boughton Hall, where he now lives. Speeches were given by family and friends, the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Razia Daniels, Squadron Leader Oli Fleming (RAF Valley) and Detective Superintendent Eddie Thistlethwaite OBE (Lancashire Constabulary). Click here to see Chester Chronicle's news item on Stan's birthday.

Stan grew up in Rochdale and after working as an office clerk he became a trained constable at the age of 19. With the onset of war and with a shortage of pilots, the police were allowed to volunteer for pilot duties, so Stan trained in Canada, returned to England and was posted to Coastal Command flying Beaufighters and Mosquitos. After the war he returned to the police force, progressed through the ranks, and finished his later years as Chief Superintendent back in his home town. Stan had a happy life with his wife Joan spanning some 60 years and now enjoys the pleasure of his remaining family. We wish Stan many more active years.

Click here for a few photos of Stan's birthday celebration.
Click here for a description of Stan's active life.
Shrewsbury Flower Show, 2017

Visit to Shrewsbury Flower Show, 12th August 2017

On Saturday 12th August 45 Chester U3A members visited the Shrewsbury Flower Show. The floral displays were delightful, as was the weather. There was something for everyone including motor cycle tricks, cookery demonstrations, horse jumping and retailers. Most of our members came back with bargains, as it was the last day of the show, and we are now full of enthusiasm for new ideas for our gardens.

Click here for a few photos of the trip.

July issue of U3A's NW Region newsletter now available

Click here to see the latest newsletter from U3A's NW Region. Information is given on forthcoming events, including an Inclusiveness Awareness Workshop on 7th October in Warrington, and a Health and Well-Being Conference on 26th October in Lancaster.


Canal trip from Preston Brook to Anderton Boat Lift – 11th July 2017

Another enjoyable, albeit wet, narrowboat trip with the Wirral Narrowboat Trust. We met early at Preston Brook to go through a 3/4 mile long tunnel on a timed slot on the Bridgewater Canal, then on towards the Anderton Boat Lift on the Trent and Mersey Canal. Arthur, a U3A member of the crew, showed Susan how to steer the boat around the winding canal.

The interesting exhibition at the Visitor Centre explained the history and construction of the 1875 boat lift, which raised laden boats between the River Weaver and the Canal. Lunch was taken at either the Stanley Arms or the Centre's Café before a rather soggy but very relaxing return journey to Preston Brook.

Click here for a few photos of the trip.

Canal trip from the Cheshire Cat to Wharton Lock, 26th June 2017


On 26th June members of Chester U3A had a lovely relaxing day on a canal trip from the Cheshire Cat to Wharton Lock. Some had lunch at the Shady Oak while others brought a picnic and stayed on the boat to go through the Lock and to turn the boat around ready for the return journey.

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Music Train trip into deepest Cheshire, 15th June 2017

On Thursday 15th June Chester U3A's Social Events Team arranged a trip on a Music Train from Chester to Mobberley, accompanied by the 'Full House Folk Group', who entertained us on the train and after lunch at the Railway Inn. The three members of the band, Mick, Chris and Dave, were great fun and everyone joined in with the choruses on the way home. A great day out.

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Updated 26/6/17

Popular Science - Visits to New Ferry Butterfly Park, 22nd May and 15th June 2017

Chester U3A visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park: Catch of the day! Chester U3A visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park: Honey bee Chester U3A visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park: Pond dipping Chester U3A visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park: Brown lipped snail Chester U3A visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park: Blue butterfly and bee orchid Chester U3A visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park: Comma butterfly

9 members of Chester U3A visited New Ferry Butterfly Park on 22nd May for a conducted tour by Dr Hilary Ash, who spoke to our last Popular Science meeting. On a dry but cloudy morning we learned about the biological and industrial history of the site, which is located on the former goods yard at Bebington station. Although we only saw 2 species of butterflies, we found many other insects and even netted a few newts from the pond. A second visit took place on 15th June.

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Updated 25/6/17

Chester U3A's holiday in the Cotswolds, May 2017

Lion sculpture outside Longleat House Interesting shot of the Chapel inside Bishops Palace Tour of the gardens at Bishops Palace, Wells Vicars' Close, Wells: The oldest medieval street in Europe. Afternoon tea on the lawn in Bath The beautiful grounds of Blenheim palace.

On Monday 29th May a coach full of our members set off for 5 days in the Cotswolds. On the way south we visited Stratford for lunch and views of the river.

On Tuesday we had a full day at Longleat. We walked among the Lemurs, had a tour of the Park and visited the House. No sign of Lord Bath! We were pleased to see that the elephant, which was rescued from ill treatment a few years ago, was now looking very fit and munching away happily on the hay.

On Wednesday we went to the Bishops Palace in Wells, the Cathedral and visited the oldest medieval street in Europe. In the afternoon we went to Bath.

Thursday was spent at Blenheim Palace where we were shown round by Luis who looked very much the part but denied being a relative of the Duke. Then it was off to Oxford for the afternoon.

On the way home we called at Chavanage House (an Elizabethan Manor house virtually untouched by time). We heard some very interesting facts from the daughter of the owner, with tales of films that have been made in the house. I don't think we have ever had such a hilarious talk! We had lunch at Bourton on Water, and visited the Model Village, the Railway Museum and the Motor Museum.

Everyone enjoyed themselves, and we are all looking forward to next year already.

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Click here for more photos of the holiday.
Chester U3A visit to Attingham Park, 16th May 2017

Visit to the Music Hall Museum in Shrewsbury and to Attingham Park and House, 16th May 2017

Chester U3A's visit to Shrewsbury and Attingham Park started off wet, but luckily indoors, at the Music Hall Museum in Shrewsbury, then lunch and a walk through Percy Thrower's Garden and along the River Severn. Afternoon was spent at Attingham Park including a look at the famous roof covering the Paintings Gallery, a walk in the deer park and an unexpected fire drill.

Click here for photos taken by Susan Denly.

Visit to The Museum of Policing in Cheshire, 10th March 2017


Chester U3A members were both entertained and educated when they visited The Museum of Policing in Cheshire in Warrington.

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Chester U3A members visited Arley Hall on 6th April 2017.

Visit to the Hat Works and to Arley Hall, 6th April 2017

A morning guided tour of the Hat Works at Wellington Mill in Stockport was fascinating. We were introduced to over 300 years of hat-making with Bow Garret, the Planking Kettle, a Hatter's cottage and William Plant's office and block making machinery, followed by superb examples of all kinds of head gear in the museum.

Some of us had our own picnic lunch on the coach and the rest had a somewhat late lunch in Arley Hall's Tudor Barn restaurant. Followed by a guided tour of the Victorian Grade ll* Arley Hall, the family home of the Viscount and Viscountess Ashbrook whose ancestors have lived on this site for over 500 years. A marvellous house and contents including the furniture and paintings. Then a chance for an hour's walk through the wonderful colour of the azaleas and magnolias in the Grove and Woodland Walk and the more formal Gardens.

Click here for photos taken by Susan Denly during the visits.
Alassio, Italian Riviera

Chester U3A's Italian holiday
8 days from 20th September 2017

Why not join us on our exciting holiday to Alassio on the Italian Riviera, on September 20th for 8 days half board. We always have a great time with like-minded people, and you are guaranteed to make new friends. We will arrange transport to the airport later.

Click here for details of the holiday, and here for a booking form.

Please ring Liz (01244-341097) if you have any questions,
or just book with the agents.

Chester U3A's New Members' Lunch on 27th January 2017.

Successful New Members Lunch on 30th January 2017

Chester U3A's New Members Lunch at St Columba's Church Hall on 27th January attracted an impressive turnout of about 80 new members. They were welcomed by Bob Davies, Chester U3A's chairman, who gave a brief summary of all the activities and events taking place under the Chester U3A umbrella. Kay Lunt, Chester U3A's Group Liaison Officer, then gave a brief outline of the 90 interest groups that are available for members. An excellent buffet lunch then followed, giving new members the opportunity to get to know each other, and to learn more about what Chester U3A does.

Click here to see Glennys Hammond's excellent photos of our smiling new members.

Local Tradesmen list is withdrawn

For several years we have kept a listing of local tradesmen that our members have used, with contact details and comments. This list hasn't been used much, so we have decided to withdraw it. There are many on-line options that you could try, eg Which Trusted Traders or Checkatrade.


The High Sheriff's Cheshire Prize for Literature 2017

This year's Cheshire Prize for Literature competition may be of interest to members of our Literacy Groups. The 2017 prize is for a previously unpublished piece of writing for children. More information here. Closing date for entries is 1st September 2017.

Harold Wilson, past chairman of Chester U3A, died 22nd December 2016
Updated 12/1/17

Sad news – Harold Wilson, past chairman of Chester U3A, passed away on 22nd December 2016

Many Chester U3A members will be saddened to learn that Harold Wilson passed away after a short illness on 22nd December. Harold was Chairman of Chester U3A in 1996/7 and contributed to Chester U3A in so many other ways. Harold's funeral took place at St Mary's Eccleston on 11th January. Our thoughts are with Harold's wife, Sylvia, and his family at this difficult time.


Christmas Fair, 8th December 2016

Chester U3A's Christmas Fair took place on 8th December 2017. Members were entertained by our Handbell, Singing and Ukelele Groups, and enjoyed a wide variety of food and craft stalls, including several stalls that had been set up by our Arts and Crafts Groups.

Click here to see a few photos, taken by Gary Nye.

Popular Science Lectures – open to all members – 22 February 2017

The next Popular Science lectures will be held on Wednesday 22nd February at Bishops Blue Coat Church of England High School, Vaughans Lane, Great Boughton, Chester CH3 5XF. Coffee from 9.30am, lectures start at 10.00am, finishing at noon. No need to book. Plenty of parking.

Dr Hilary Ash is Honorary Conservation Officer of the Wirral Wildlife Group of Cheshire Wildlife Trust. She has led the development and management of New Ferry Butterfly Park since its inception in 1993 and was honored as Green Flag volunteer of 2016. Her talk is on Creating and managing Habitat for Invertebrates. Our second speaker is Dr Godfrey Harrap, well known to most of us as a recent chairman of Chester U3A and a regular speaker at Popular Science. His talk this time is about Rivalries & Controversies in Science.

For questions or to be added to an email reminder list, please contact Janet Money (0151-3272566).


Visit to Astley Hall and Hoghton Tower, 2nd November 2016

Astley Hall, near Chorley, has incredible plasterwork ceilings. A group from Chester U3A was lucky to have an exclusive guided tour before the public were admitted. After a pleasant lunch and time for a stroll around the gardens in wonderful sunshine we travelled on to Hoghton Tower which was opened just or us. Again excellent guided tours enriched the experience. We learned about what happened when James I visited, how the house had developed, and the people who had lived there. A fascinating Dolls House collection was another delight as well as the impressive drive and views from the house.

Click here to see a few photos, taken by Susan Denly.

U3A Summer Schools 2017

Outline information is now available for U3A's Summer Schools 2017:

  • 17th to 20th July 2017, Harper Adams University, Shropshire. Courses on Cryptic Crosswords, France, Globalisation, History, Literature, Maths, Recorders, Sexuality in the Ancient World.
  • 14th to 17th August 2017, Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester. Courses on Creative Writing, Garden History, Latin, Literature, Music, Poetry, Shakespeare, Singing.
  • 11th to 14th September 2017, Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester. Courses on Drama, Exploring English, History, Music, Opera, Singing a Cappella, Spanish, Writing.

There's plenty to appeal to those with an interest in music, history or literature, but, surprisingly, nothing for those with an interest in science, technology, engineering, geology, computing and other sciences.


'Little Book of Big Scams' adopted by Cheshire Police

The 'Little Book of Big Scams' was originally launched by the Metropolitan Police in 2012, and has now been adopted by Cheshire Police. The 52-page booklet is designed to raise awareness of the varied techniques which are being used by fraudsters across the country to part members of the public from their cash, including advice on identity theft, door-to-door scams, online fraud and banking scams. Well worth a read!


Summer boat trips to Alford and Lymm

Two most enjoyable boat trips were organised by Chester U3A's Social Team during the summer, namely a cruise from Chester to the iron bridge in Aldford on 28th July, and a narrowboat trip from Preston Brook to Lymm on 18th August.

Click here to see some of Liz Flanagan's photos.

Revised Membership Structure

Chester U3A's monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of the month are held in St Columba's Church Hall, Plas Newton Lane, Upton. The membership of Chester U3A now exceeds 1000, but this location can only accommodate 250 participants on safety grounds. Chester U3A's Committee has looked at other larger venues but none has the convenient parking and bus service of St Columba's. A modified membership structure, comprising Full Members and Associate Members, was proposed by the Chester U3A Committee to deal with this issue, and was agreed by Chester U3A's membership at an SGM on 5th July 2016. Click here for an explanation of the revised membership structure for 2016/17 and subsequent years.


Chester U3A Holiday to Northumberland, May 2016

Over 50 members of Chester U3A enjoyed a 5 day holiday in Northumberland from 13th to 17th May 2016, visiting York, Alnwick Castle, Lindisfarne and Holy Island, Beamish, Hartlepool Museum and Hawes in Wensleydale for cheese tasting. The hotel was great and even the weather, although a bit nippy, was dry and sunny.

Click here to see some of Liz Flanagan's photos.
Neil Fitton, 5th February 1937 – 18th January 2016

Sad news – Neil Fitton, past chairman of Chester U3A, passed away on 18th January 2016

Many Chester U3A members will be saddened to learn that Neil Fitton passed away after a long period of illness on 18th January. Neil was Vice Chairman, then Chairman of Chester U3A from 2004 to 2008. Neil had a highly successful career in education and a lifelong interest in the theatre. After retiring in 1991 Neil was actively involved in many community groups in Cheshire, including Chester U3A. His varied life and career is well summarised in this obituary, produced by his family, and this obituary in the Chester Chronicle. Neil's funeral took place at Chester Crematorium on 11th February. Donations in Neil's memory may be made to the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, where Neil was Chief Executive from 1991 to 1993. Our thoughts are with Neil's family at this difficult time.


Popular Science lectures – Wednesday 17th February

47 members of Chester U3A braved pouring rain to attend the 22nd Popular Science seminar on February 17th, hosted by the Bishops Blue Coat Church of England High School in Great Boughton. After the usual coffee and chat in the Library, we all trooped into the recently refurbished Lecture Theatre where Chester member Ken Golby entertained us with the history of brickwork. We all enjoyed the pictures of some very attractive examples, and there were clearly some builders or DIY enthusiasts in the audience judging by the questions on left handed trowels and types of mortar.

The second talk was given by our member Graham Anderton, who used to be responsible for highway maintenance in Cheshire. He gave us an insight into the way winter maintenance is organised using the title "Why should we grit our roads?". Graham finished his presentation with a video clip of 'Elvis' singing 'In the Depot' to the tune of 'In the Ghetto'. It was the first time Popular Science has been honoured by Elvis's presence, and he sent us out singing into the rain.

The next meeting is on Wednesday 2nd November. Details will be announced here and in the September and October News Sheets.

Chester U3A member with Countdown prize for correctly solving conundrum.

Chester U3A member successful at 'Countdown' on 12th October

A good example of how we keep on learning at the University of the Third Age! On a visit to Channel 4's Countdown, one of our members solved the conundrum, her correct answer being 'Caliphate'. Well done Sandy.

The programme will be seen on either the 16th or 17th of November.

Popular Science lectures – Wednesday 28th October

An audience of 64 attended the Popular Science lectures on 28th October at the Bishops Blue Coat High School in Great Boughton. Andy Cross's talk on 'How to Watch Birds' included many stunning photographs of birds, most of them taken by himself and other members of the Birdwatching Group. Andy showed us which birds we might find locally in each type of habitat and his identification photographs were accompanied by recordings of the bird's song. We also learned about their behaviour and how to attract them to our gardens.

After the break, it was off to the stars, with a talk by Ken Clark of Liverpool Astronomical Society on The History of Astronomy. Ken traced the development of the ideas and technology used to develop our current understanding of the universe. Unlike most sciences today, amateurs are still making significant contributions to astronomy, both by observations from their own equipment and by analysing data from the big telescopes.

The next meeting of Popular Science will be on Wednesday February 17th 2016. Please email Janet Money if you would like your name to be added to the mailing list, or if you can offer a talk.

Click here to see some of the places that Chester U3A's Birdwatching Group has visited, and for useful sources of information for birdwatchers.

Chester University's History Society may be of interest to our History Groups

Chester University's Faculty of Health and Social Care (FHSC) Historical Society aims to unite individuals with an interest in medicine, nursing, midwifery and social work across the University and the wider community. The Society meets regularly for a range of talks and discussion and anyone with an interest in health and social care or social history is welcome to attend. The Society's next talk, entitled Women in Surgery: A New Phenomenon will be held on Wednesday 2nd December on Chester University's Riverside Campus.


Chester U3A Holiday to the Costa Brava, September 2015

Tossa de Mar, in a gentle sandy bay with attractive rocky headlands, ancient castle, and town walls, proved a delightful base for our holiday. The September weather was perfect, plenty of sunshine and no rain.

During the week we enjoyed various outings including: a glass bottom boat ride; Barcelona, with its amazing Gaudi architecture; Dali's theatre museum which houses fantastic paintings, quirky drawings, sculptures and a car that rained inside. We travelled inland to Montserrat, with its massive amazing cliff formations, and the Monastery with the Black Madonna. We also visited Gerona, Besalu, the Marimurtra Botanical Gardens and discovered the Penedes region with its 30km of tunnels where wine is converted to Cava by the same method as Champagne is in France.

It was a small friendly group this year who made me, a single person, very welcome. On the way back most of us were discussing where we would like to go next year as we had such a good time. Report by Shirley Owen.

Click here to see some of Liz Flanagan's photos of the holiday.

Interesting visit to People's History Museum in Manchester, 1st July 2015

28 Chester U3A members had a most enjoyable time at the People's History Museum in Manchester on 1st July. Sue Proctor, organiser of the visit, wrote this interesting blog about the visit.


Chester U3A's Spring holiday to Eastbourne, May 2015

Chester U3A on holiday at Eastbourne, May 2015

On the 11th May forty nine members set off for a five-day holiday to Eastbourne. The weather was glorious, the food delicious and our hotel, the Burlington, was right on the front. Our first day out was to the quaint old village of Alfriston which lies on the South Downs' long-distance footpath. Here we visited the church, where one of the Cockleshell heroes was buried and also Dennis Healey's wife. The 'Clergyhouse', a National Trust property, was next to the church. We were delighted to hear that actress Penelope Keith was filming there and several of our members were lucky enough to see her. A photo (see photo gallery) shows two of our members in the garden. Later we drove to Lewes, where some walked to see Anne of Cleves House. This was most interesting. The house, though very sparsely furnished, led to us examining the Tudor structure more closely. Our last stop was Beachy Head, which you can see from the photograph was very windy.

Wednesday was a free day when some of us walked to the Sovereign Harbour near Pevensey Bay, some shopped or visited museums and others just relaxed in the Carpet Gardens in front of the hotel.

On Thursday, our last day, we set off for Battle with its 12th century Abbey. Unfortunately the heavens opened at 11am and we had to get our umbrellas out. We then went to Hastings, where it was still raining. Some of us ran to the Art Gallery, some to the cafés and one or two even stayed on the bus. Our next town was Bexhill-on-Sea, but I am afraid by this time we all saw sense and stayed on the bus for a tour around the town to see the seafront and the Pavilion. Despite the rain the driver did his best to keep us happy and we all had a good laugh at the predicament we were in. (Please see photo of us in the rain with the driver). However, after a hot bath/shower and our evening meal, we were entertained by a fantastic comedian/singer. I wish I could remember his jokes.

We all enjoyed this holiday. The staff were great and very helpful and our driver had us in stitches for most of our time on the bus. Eastbourne has retained its charm, unlike some of the south coast resorts. Where should we go to next, I wonder?

Click here to see some of Liz Flanagan's excellent photos of the holiday.

'Archives @ 5' initiative may be of interest to our history groups

Cheshire Archives & Local Studies is launching a new 'Archives @ 5' initiative later this month, comprising a varied programme of free talks, events and workshops, each beginning at 5pm on the last Wednesday of the month. The first event, entitled 'Remembering the fallen of Cheshire: WW1 Memorials of Cheshire' will be held on Wednesday, 27th May, 5 - 6pm at the Cheshire Record Office, Duke Street, Chester. Future 'Archives @ 5' topics will include: 'Beer and brewing' and 'The Cheshire Magna Carta'. Click here for more information.


Good turnout at Popular Science Lectures on 18th February 2015


Popular Science talks were held on 18th February in the newly refurbished lecture theatre at Bishops Bluecoat High School in Boughton. 53 Chester U3A members turned out to hear 'Everything you wanted to know about memory but forgot to ask' by Dr Mike Money, and The problems of improving the A55 North Wales coast road' by Dr Frank Nicholson. The next event will be on Wednesday 28th October. Look out for details on this website and in our newsletter. If you would like to be added to a mailing list, please send an email to Finally, we are always looking for speakers – if you would like to present a topic to the next session please send an email to Janet Money at the same email address – help will be given if necessary!

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Cheshire Prize for Literature 2015

The Cheshire Prize for Literature 2015 will be awarded for an original and previously unpublished short story. Entries should not exceed 1500 words, and must be received by 1st September 2015.

More information can be found on this poster and on the University of Chester's website.


Information and Services for Adults and Children in West Cheshire

Cheshire West & Chester is developing a web based information hub that includes details of events, services and organisations that offer activities for people from birth to end of life. This directory is in its infancy, and it is hoped to include a wider range of groups and activities as it develops. There are no U3As in the listings yet, but Chester U3A will probably be added in the near future.

Chester U3A's New Members' Lunch on 30th January 2015.

Successful New Members Lunch on 30th January

Chester U3A's New Members Lunch at St Columba's Church Hall on 30th January attracted an impressive turnout of about 70 new members. They were welcomed by Godfrey Harrap, Chester U3A's chairman, who then gave a brief summary of all the activities and events taking place under the Chester U3A umbrella.After an excellent lunch Godfrey gave a brief talk about Chester U3A's wide range of Interest Groups, and how our new members can become members of these groups, and Sue Proctor described some of the interesting visits and outings that are organised by Chester U3A's Social Team.

Click here to see Glennys Hammond's excellent photos of our smiling new members.

Introduction to Cyber Security – Open University course on FutureLearn

Do you know how to protect your computer from viruses, trojans and other forms of malware? The Open University's introductory 8-week course on Cyber Security, starting on 26th January on the FutureLearn platform, may be just what you're looking for. Click here for information about the course.


Interesting visits to Roberts Bakery and to Tatton, November 2014

Chester U3A members donned protective gear before their tour of Roberts Bakery. Click for bigger image.

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Chester U3A members donned protective gear before their tour of Roberts Bakery. Click for bigger image.

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Chester U3A's Social Team organised two interesting visits at the end November 2014. The first was on 26th November to Roberts Bakery, one of the biggest employers in Northwich, and the producer of bread, rolls and other bakery products that are sold in supermarkets and local convenience stores throughout Cheshire, Staffordshire, North Wales and the Midlands. Many of you will be familiar with the sights and smells of baking bread as you drive along the A556 at Rudheath. We enjoyed a very informative tour of the Bakery, including an interesting comparison of new and old technologies, and are very grateful to Roberts Bakery personnel who looked after us so well, and even provided us with bags of their products at the end of the tour!

Fifty of our members spent a delightful day at Tatton on the 27th November. The downstairs rooms were adorned with fairy tale models and decorations, including spectacular displays depicting scenes from the 'Nutcracker' and 'Tin Soldier' stories. We also enjoyed learning how to make original table displays and sampled the most delicious mince pies we had ever tasted. After a leisurely four course lunch some enjoyed a winter walk in the gardens, while others spent time in the shop before 'staggering' back to our coach at 4pm.

Click here for photos of the Tatton visit, taken by Liz Flanagan.

Presentation to Gordon and Myra Bowyer at Christmas Lunch on 9th December

Presentation to Gordon and Myra Bowyer by Godfrey Harrap at Chester U3A's Christmas lunch on 9th Decenber 2014.

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Gordon and Myra Bowyer after presentation to them at Chester U3A's Christmas lunch on 9th December 2014.

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A presentation was made to Gordon and Myra Bowyer at our Christmas lunch on 9th December in recognition of their sterling efforts over many years with the running of Chester U3A. This is Gordon and Myra's response:

"Thank you for your kind and generous gift to mark our 'step back' from U3A. We have both enjoyed our involvement with the running of Chester U3A, but now feel it's time for us to step aside and let others with fresh ideas to come forward. We have both worked long and hard to contribute to the running of our U3A, but we have also gained so much as well - how could we have met such a group of lovely people had we not become involved? Thank you for all your help and support over the years."

Click photos to get bigger images.

Get a free first aid guide from St John Ambulance

This pocket sized guide from St John Ambulnce gives essential first aid advice for five common conditions where straightforward first aid could be the difference between a life lost and a life saved, namely choking, heart attack, severe bleeding, dealing with an unconscious person and dealing with someone who isn't breathing. Click here to request a free copy of the guide.


Holiday to Lido di Jesilo on the Venetian Riviera, 18th to 25th September

Last month 34 of our members spent a week on the Venetian Riviera in a 4* hotel and most of us had sea view rooms. Breakfast and dinner were buffet style so there was something for everyone. The weather was exceptionally kind to us. It was lovely during the day and rained during the night. What more could we want? We had a beautiful day in Venice with a trip on the Grand Canal and another day visiting three of the islands, Burano, Murano and Torcello. We also had a day in Sirmione on Lake Garda and last but not least went into two old mountain villages and ended up 'wine tasting'. Our evenings were spent either getting together in the spacious lounge or going to the Black Cat bar, just down the road, for drinks, coffee or real English tea.

Everyone seemed to enjoy this holiday and the main topic on the way home was 'Where are we going to next year?'. Watch this space!

Click here for photos of the holiday, taken by Liz Flanagan.

Successful 'table top sale' at monthly meeting on 9th October

A 'table top sale' was held at Chester U3A's monthly meeting on Thursday 9th October. All stall holders were Chester U3A members who, in most cases, had produced the items they were selling. Most of the money raised was donated to a variety of deserving charities. The meeting was well attended by members who seemed to enjoy having a good look around in search of a bargain! The morning also provided members with a good opportunity to catch up with friends over a coffee.

Click here to see a few photos of the event.

Chester U3A logo replaced by Third Age Trust logo

New Chester U3A logo.

New logo

Old Chester U3A logo.

Old logo

You will notice a change to the header of our website. The Chester U3A logo, which was designed by Alan O'Connor in 2008, has been replaced by the official logo of the University of the Third Age which is owned by the Third Age Trust. Our U3A is affiliated to the Trust which gives us a number of benefits including insurance and access to advice and resources to help us run Chester U3A. A condition of affiliation is to abide by the Trust's rules, one of which is not to contravene the Trust's trademarked official logo. Following suggestions that we might be breaking this rule, we have had extensive correspondence with the Trust and as a result our Committee has decided to replace the Chester U3A logo with the official one.


Membership fee for new members kept at £14 for 2014/15

Chester U3A Committee's proposal to keep the annual membership fee for new members at £14 for 2014/15 was approved at the Special General Meeting on 1st July. Membership of Chester U3A was closed to new members from end-March 2014, and will re-open on 1st September 2014. Prospective new members can join a waiting list by sending an application form, together with a cheque for £14, to: Chester U3A Membership Secretary, PO Box 167, Chester CH2 1WL. Cheques won't be cashed before 1st September.

Existing members can renew their membership for a fee of £10 at the Thursday meeting on 14th August. Cheques only please, made out to Chester U3A. If you are paying for someone else could you please write their name(s) on the back of the cheque. For anyone who can't be at this meeting, a box will be available for your cheques at both Tuesday and Thursday meetings in August and September (no SAE required). If you wish to renew by post, please send your cheque, payable to Chester U3A, to Chester U3A Membership Secretary, PO Box 167, Chester CH2 1WL.


Chester U3A visits Whitby and the Yorkshire Moors

Outside Bay Royal Hotel, Whitby.

On 12th May fifty members of Chester U3A, headed by Liz and Sue, set off for a spring holiday based at Whitby and staying at the Royal Hotel where Bram Stoker wrote his Dracula story.

On the way we stopped at Lotherton Hall for lunch, a guided tour of the house and a walk around the fantastic bird garden with many species of birds including condors and flamingoes.

On day two we journeyed across the moors visiting lovely old Yorkshire towns and villages such as Helmsley, Pickering, with its steam railway, and Goathland (which is where the Heartbeat series was filmed).

Day three was a free day. Some of us went to Robin Hood's Bay on the bus and four very fit members of the group actually walked the 7 miles. Others took the open topped bus to see Pannet Park, the Abbey and the unique St. Mary's Church which has a seated gallery and pews facing the wrong way. This was because the altar has been moved at some time in the past but they didn't change the direction of the seats.

On day four we visited Scarborough where some of us ventured onto the beach, visited the castle or just generally soaked up the atmosphere. We were so lucky with the weather.

Sadly on day five we had to return home but called in at the McCarthy Glen Outlet Shopping Centre and Food Hall for lunch and some therapeutic last minute shopping.

Click here to see a few photos, taken by Janice and Liz.

May is Scams Awareness Month!

There are several websites that provide useful information on scams, including Get Safe Online, Cyber Street and Think Jessica, a charity protecting elderly and vulnerable people from scams. According to the Trading Standards Institute, only five per cent of scams are reported, possibly because people feel embarrassed at being caught out. Please don't suffer in silence. Scams and attempted scams can be reported to Action Fraud or 0300-123-2040.

Chester U3A's Tai Chi taster session.

Popular Tai Chi taster sessions

The recent Tai Chi taster sessions proved very popular, with a total of 29 U3A members experiencing the gentle, relaxing exercises, designed to promote flexibility, serenity and balance.

Several students enjoyed the experience so much that they are going on to join the School to develop their skills further. While the April taster has come to a natural end, the School continues to meet on Tuesdays from 2:00 to 3:00pm in St Columba's Hall.

U3A members can still take advantage of the introductory special offer, to take part in a 5-week beginners' class for just £20. Why not come along on Tuesdays? For more information, phone 01244-682265, or email


Chester U3A Speaker Secretary steps down

Our thanks are due to Sue Kettle, who recently stepped down from the post of Speaker Secretary. Sue managed to find a succession of high quality speakers on a variety of topics, and successfully dealt with the occasional last minute panic when the arranged speaker couldn't attend. Sue has left us with a list of speakers on a comprehensive range of topics up to March 2015 - we hope she enjoys listening to them without being responsible for organisational issues like travel, payment and audio/video requirements!


Chester U3A News-Sheet has a new co-editor

After a 5 year stint as co-editor of Chester U3A's News-Sheet, Tom Carke has decided it is time to hang up his laptop and escape the mad world of pressure journalism! Many thanks, Tom, for all your efforts. Joyce Carrington has kindly stepped into the breach and will be joining Barbara Ginty on the editorial team.


U3A Online includes monthly GEMS newsletters

Most of you will be aware of the many online courses offered by U3A Online, including courses on World Affairs/History, Nature, Writing/Creativity, Lifestyle and Science. But did you know that U3A Online also offers monthly GEMS newsletters that contain links to useful websites about a variety of topics, including health, lifestyle and computing. You can subscribe to this free resource here.


Chester U3A Visits The Potteries, 30th January 2014

On a cold but dry day a coach full of Chester U3A members enjoyed an interesting trip to the Potteries.

We first visited the Gladstone Pottery Museum, where we learned from our excellent guides of the hard life as a pottery worker in bygone days – including the art of a 'sagger makers bottom knocker'. We looked inside a bottle oven and heard how skilled the workers were whose job it was to stack the saggers filled with pottery items and of the men who had to keep the fires burning at the correct temperature. We watched demonstrations of modern day processes including china flower making and a skilled artist painting a scene on a tile.

After a short coach trip we arrived at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery where several members sampled the local delicacy of Staffordshire oatcakes. We then saw a wonderful display of pottery dating from several centuries to the present day. An extra bonus was that we were fortunate to see the Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition - a wonderful display of beautifully decorated golden objects which were parts of Saxon helmet and sword decorations and were found a few years ago in a field by Lichfield.

Thanks to Sue Proctor for arranging an interesting day.     Report by Marie Pollitt.

Click here to see some of Andrew Cross's photos.

MOOCs - free non-degree online courses

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are offered by many universities, mainly US, but some UK, including Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds and Warwick. These courses are free and worth considering if you are interested in higher education. You can enrol on MOOCs through Coursera or FutureLearn.

U3A Online, a Virtual University of the Third Age and OpenLearn also offer many online courses.


Successful New Members Lunch on 31st January

Chester U3A's New Members Lunch at St Columba's Church Hall on 31st January attracted an impressive turnout of about 80 new members. They were welcomed by Godfrey Harrap, Chester U3A's chairman, who then gave a brief summary of all the activities and events taking place under the Chester U3A umbrella. Liz Flanagan then described some of the interesting visits and outings the Social Team has planned for this year, including holidays in Whitby and Italy. After an excellent lunch Kay Lunt gave a brief talk about Chester U3A's wide range of Interest Groups, and how our new members can become members of these groups.

Click here to see Glennys Hammond's excellent photos of our smiling new members.
Dorothy Clift

Sad news – Dorothy Clift, past chairman of Chester U3A, passed away on 25th January

Many Chester U3A members will be saddened to learn that Dorothy Clift passed away after a short illness on 25th January. Dorothy was chairman of Chester U3A from 1997 to 1999, was co-ordinator of the Environmental Issues Group for many years, and played an active part in several other groups. Our thoughts are with Dorothy's family at this difficult time. Dorothy's funeral took place at the United Reformed Church, Upton, Chester on 10th February. Donations in Dorothy's memory may be made to the Hospice of the Good Shepherd, Backford or to Cancer Research UK.


Excellent talk at December's monthly meeting on 'The Music of Gilbert & Sullivan'

Members enjoyed an excellent talk by Bernard Lockett on 'The Music of Gilbert & Sullivan' at our monthly meeting on 3rd December. Bernard's talk tempted some of our members to consider a visit to next year's Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Harrogate (2nd to 26th August) or, more locally, to one or more of the performances by the G&S Opera Company at New Brighton from 11th to 14th June. Many thanks, Bernard, for making the long trip from Kent to be with us!


Cheshire residents are encouraged to sign up to Police Alerts

Residents are being encouraged by Cheshire Police to sign up to a new community messaging service. Registered users are sent information about their local community from the Police, including news bulletins, appeals, local crime alerts, scams and crime prevention advice. Users of the service can manage their own settings and select the type of messages they want to receive. The messages can also be tailored to geographical areas to ensure people only receive information which is relevant to them.

New users can register here to receive alerts.
The Action Fraud website is a good source of information on all types of fraud, including internet fraud.

Successful Group Fair, 14th November 2013

A highly successful Group Fair was held in St Columba's Church Hall on Thursday 14th November. Representatives of all Chester U3A's groups were there to tell prospective members about their groups' activities. Many thanks to Kay Lunt for organising the Fair and to group co-ordinators for creating such eye-catching displays.

Click here to see some of Glennys Hammond's excellent photos.

Chester U3A members enjoy a day at Saltaire, 17th October 2013

On Thursday 17th October 2013 a full coach load of Chester U3A members set out for Saltaire near Bradford with the expectation of an informative and enjoyable day. The village of Saltaire, a UNESCO world heritage site, is renowned as the brainchild of Titus Salt in the 1850s where he built a massive textile mill and a 'model' village for the workers away from the polluted and insanitary conditions of Bradford.

Bust of Titus Salt

Our visit started in the imposing United Reformed (Congregational) Church where we were greeted by our 3 guides dressed in costume and talking in character. Mrs Dooley was entertaining with her tales of her large family and life in the village, Mrs Hill gave more formal accounts and the Reverend told us of the social history. Everyone received a 'cue card' describing an inhabitant and where they lived with some taking on roles (eg Tom Clarke being Mr Dooley in the photo). In three groups we then saw the sights of the village including the Victoria Hall, the almshouses, hospital and school. Also pointed out were the houses on our cue cards where often a large family lived in only a few rooms. Uses have changed in a century and half, for example there is now a café called 'Don't Tell Titus' because it sells alcohol. After the tours there was time to explore the many floors of Salt's Mill which included a Hockney exhibition, history of the mill and Saltaire, a bookshop and two excellent restaurants.

An excellent day of architectural and social history that lived up to its billing, which was so well organised by Sue Proctor. We could go back again to see so much that there was not time to cover in one visit.

Click here to see some of Andrew Cross's photos.

Andrew Cross stands down as Chairman after successful two year stint

As required by our constitution, Andrew Cross's two year term as Chairman of Chester U3A ended at our AGM on 5th November. Thanks, Andrew, for your unstinting efforts over the last two years. Click here to read Andrew's report on his second year in office. Godfrey Harrap was elected to take over from Andrew as Chairman of Chester U3A. We wish Godfrey an enjoyable and productive time in his new post. Apart from Andrew, the only other committee member to leave the committee was Sue Clarke, our Committee Secretary, whose role will be taken by Joyce Carrington. Thanks, Sue, for your efforts over the last 4 years. Click here to see who will be serving on the new committee.


How to use a mobile phone to contact the Emergency Services (useful information for walking groups)

Two emergency telephone numbers, 999 and 112, can be used to contact the Emergency Services in the UK. 112 can also be used throughout Europe and in many other countries too. This useful video clip explains how to use a mobile phone in an emergency, particularly when you're in an area where your mobile's signal is weak. The only way to communicate with the Emergency Services may be by sending an SMS text message, but, to do this, you have to pre-register your mobile by texting 'register' to 112 (or 999 if you prefer), reading the reply, and responding by texting 'yes'. This service allows deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired people to contact the Emergency Services, but could be a life saver for our walking groups if they have an accident in an isolated spot with poor mobile signal strength. More information here.

Chester U3A members on holiday in Italy, September 2013. Click thumbnail for a bigger image.

43 Chester U3A members have a holiday in Italy's Versilian Riviera

43 Chester U3A members spent an enjoyable week in Italy's Versilian Riviera from 17th to 24th September. Their first day was relatively relaxed, but they then embarked on four days of day trips, including visits to the walled-town of Lucca (Puccini's birthplace), to Pisa, to the Cinque Terre, to Portofino and Santa Margherita, and to Florence.

Click here to read Sue Proctor's comprehensive report on the holiday,
and here for some of Liz Flanagan's excellent photos,
and here for an amusing poem about the holiday by Carol Walker.

Successful Farmers/Craft Market at October's monthly meeting

A hghly successful Farmers/Craft market was held at Chester U3A's monthly meeting on 10th October. Our Craft Group showcased its activities with a vast range of items for sale, and there was a wide range of tasty goodies and free samples on offer. Thanks to the following local enterprises who contributed to this successful event, and to Myra for organising the event so capably.:

Jane's Handmade Bread | Stokes Pork Pies (Ellesmere) | Precious Chocolates Ltd | Wallis Gourmet Foods | 'Homemade cakes to order' (0151-348-1992) | Luscious Fayre Ltd | Robert's Bees (Ellesmere Port U3A).


Chester U3A's 20th Anniversary Celebration, 3rd September 2013

Almost 200 members celebrated Chester U3A's 20th Anniversary at St Columba's Church Hall on Tuesday 3rd September. The programme for the day comprised a morning speaker, an excellent buffet lunch and an afternoon spealer, with plenty of time to chat and reminisce. The morning speaker was the talented Jean Finney who entertained us with 'an Interlude with Joyce Grenfell', and after lunch we were kept awake by a very interesting talk by Chester Tour Guide Stephen Shakeshaft on some of Chester's unusual and hidden historic sights. Many thanks to Brian, Kay and Mavis for organising the day.

Click here for a selection of Glennys Hammond's photos.
NW Region Geology Course. Examining rocks in Newton Rigg classroom.
NW Region Geology Course. Examining rocks in Newton Rigg classroom.

Successful NW Region Summer School
Newton Rigg College, 27th - 31st August

NW Region Geology Course - examining rocks near Tebay.
NW Region Geology Course - examining rocks near Tebay.

Seven Chester U3A members attended the excellent U3A NW Region's summer school at Newton Rigg College, near Penrith, and enjoyed courses on 'Reconstructing the Past: An Introduction to British Prehistoric Archaeology', 'Energy – the present and future provision of energy', 'Geology of the Lake District' and 'Creative Writing'. Chester member Alan Coulson was the tutor for the course on 'Typically British: Aspects of UK Cinema During and After the Second World War'. The adjacent photos relate to the Geology Course, both in the classroom and on a field trip.

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Chester Library Flash Fiction competition

Can you write a short story exactly 150 words in length? Email your entry to Chester Library by 1 November 2013. Entries will be judged by Ashley Chantler and Peter Blair, editors of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine and lecturers in the Department of English, University of Chester. Prizes are donated by Salt Publishing. More information here.


Chester U3A's Social Committee wants to know more about your preferences

Chester U3A's Social Committee would like to know what you expect from their social programme, so please help them to help you by filling in this survey form. Please print the form and return your completed form to the Social Table at one of the September meetings (3rd or 12th).


Membership fees agreed for 2013/14

A Special General Meeting on Tuesday 2nd July approved the Committee's recommended subscription rates for 2013/2014, namely £10 for Membership Renewal, and £14 for New Membership and Late Membership Renewal. Existing members can renew their membership at the reduced rate between 1st August and 30th September. Prospective new members can apply for membership from 1st September - click here for more information.


Chester U3A visit to Victoria Baths, Manchester - April 2013

Victoria Baths, Manchester

Surplus seats on the coach taking U3A theatregoers to see CATS were taken up by the Art Appreciation Group, who visited Whitworth Art Gallery, and the rest of us, who had a guided tour of Victoria Baths followed by a visit to John Rylands library.

Victoria Baths were opened by Manchester Corporation in 1906 and closed in 1993. They were the largest public baths in Manchester and included laundry facilities, private baths, Turkish Baths and 3 pools labelled 1st Class Males, 2nd Class Males and 2nd Class Females. Note that there was no First Class women's pool and, even worse, the water the women swam in was recycled, having started off in 1st Class Males. There is also an Aerotone machine, a sort of stand-up Jacuzzi, which was used most recently by professional footballers up until closure.

The Baths won BBC Two's 'Restoration' series in 2003 and work began in 2007. It is very much a work in progress. The pools remain empty though the aim is to open the smallest pool for swimming. The stained glass alone is well worth the visit and it is probably the "spectacular example of early 20th century secular glazing" that saved the premises from demolition. The iconic 'Angel of Purity' window in the Turkish Baths Rest Room is the most famous though it is not an angel but a nymph. Various sports are depicted and a special window is dedicated to local lass Sunny Lowry who trained in the pool and swam the English Channel.

The day to day running of the Baths and much of the restoration work is done by a team of volunteers with only one or two paid staff. The building is open to the public on Sundays and runs guided tours on Wednesdays for anyone who missed out on this visit.

Click here for a selection of John Brinkley's excellent photos.
Fatima, oriental dancer

Fatima, Oriental Dancer, entertains us with her amazing dancing!

Chester U3A's 'volunteer' oriental dancers

At the Thursday Meeting on 9th May we were entertained by Fatima (photo on right), who gave us a short history of 'Oriental Dance', including how 'Belly Dancing' got its questionable image through the influence of Hollywood. She followed this with an outline of her own dancing career, then enthralled us with an amazing demonstration of the dancing. Several 'volunteers' were then plucked from the audience and dressed in the costumes you can see in the photo on the left, before giving a final rendition on the various instruments supplied. Informative and very entertaining! Our thanks to Fatima and our volunteers.

Click photos to get bigger images.
Click here for more photos.

Help at hand for iPad users!

'iPad for the Older and Wiser' is the latest book in Wiley's 'Older and Wiser' series. Could be just what you're looking for if you haven't mastered your iPad yet!


Successful New Members Lunch on 25th January

Chester U3A's New Members Lunch at St Columba's Church Hall on 25th January attracted an impressive turnout of about 80 new members. They were welcomed by Andrew Cross, Chester U3A's chairman, who then gave a brief summary of all the activities and events taking place under the Chester U3A umbrella. After an excellent lunch Jenny Carley, NW U3A Trustee, gave an informative talk on what goes on in the Deeside & Wirral Network, the NW U3A Region and the Third Age Trust. A minor disappointment about the lunch for our Scottish members was the lack of haggis, tatties and neeps! How could we have missed this opportunity to remember Rabbie Burns?

Click here to see a few photos of our smiling new members.

'The Big Care Debate' at the House of Lords, 7th December 2012

The 'Big Care Debate' at the House of Lords, 7th December 2012.
The 'Big Care Debate' at the House of Lords, 7th December 2012.
The 'Big Care Debate' at the House of Lords, 7th December 2012.
The 'Big Care Debate' at the House of Lords, 7th December 2012.

On Friday 7th December there was an inter-generational debate involving school children aged 14-18 and members of the U3A from across the UK, held in the chamber of the House of Lords. Alison Betts, one of the three Chester U3A members to attend, has written this report to describe her view of this "exceptional and exciting day" and the 'The Big Care Debate'.

Hover your cursor over the images to get bigger sizes.

Pulford Handbell Ringers at Chester U3A's meeting on 13th December 2012.
Pulford Handbell Ringers at Chester U3A's meeting on 13th December 2012.

Festive music by the Pulford Handbell Ringers, 13th December 2012

We learnt a lot of interesting things about handbell ringing when 9 members of Pulford Handbell Ringers entertained us with a selection of Christmas carols at our meeting on 13th December. We even had an opportunity to try handbell ringing ourselves! More information about handbell ringing can be found on the HRGB website.

Hover your cursor over the image to get a bigger size.


Pottery demonstration at monthly meeting on 4th December

Myra's attempt at pottery!
Myra's attempt at pottery!
Making the bowl.
Making the bowl.
The final result!
The final result!

John Christophers gave us an interesting talk on 'The history of pottery' at our monthly meeting on 4th December. Then the audience, all 200+ of them, were provided with a small lump of Terracotta modelling clay, and were asked to produce a disc, a letter of the alphabet and something relating to their main hobby. These photos give some indication of how successful they were!

Hover your cursor over the images to get bigger sizes.


Successful Group Fair, 8th November 2012

A highly successful Group Fair was held in St Columba's Church Hall on Thursday 8th November. Representatives of all Chester U3A's groups were there to tell prospective members about their groups' activities. Many thanks to Sheila Young for organising the Fair and to group co-ordinators for creating such eye-catching displays.

Glennys Hammond and John Quinn were on hand with their trusty cameras.
Click here to see some of their photos.

Two new committee members elected at AGM on 6th November

Chester U3A's AGM was held on 6th November 2012. Click here to see Andrew Cross's Annual Report for his first year as Chairman. Gordon Bowyer (Vice Chairman), David Kent (Treasurer) and Sheila Young (Group Liaison Officer) stood down from the Chester U3A Committee – thanks to all of you for your hard work over many years. Two new committee members were elected, namely Elizabeth Kevan (Treasurer) and Kay Lunt (Group Liaison Officer). Andrew Cross noted that there is a vacancy for the post of Vice Chairman, and asked all members to help identify a volunteer for this position, ideally by end-2012. Click here to see the new committee.

Mary Vives and Barbara Wright are standing down from the Social Team. Andrew noted that Mary has been running social activities for us for almost as long as our U3A has existed and Barbara just a few years less. Andrew presented Mary and Barbara with small gifts to mark our appreciation of their efforts.


Jenny Carley co-opted onto the NEC of the Third Age Trust as a NW Trustee

Congratulations to Jenny Carley, chairman of Chester U3A from 2009-2011, on her co-option onto the National Executive Committee of the Third Age Trust (TAT) as a NW Trustee. Jenny will be a member of TAT's Development Sub Committee and will be working with TAT's website development team. She will also deal with a variety of issues in the NW Region, including new U3As, problems, events etc. There are 90+ U3As, 6 networks and about 32,000 members in the North West Region, so it looks like being a busy job!


'Tasty' talk about healthy eating at Thursday meeting on 14th June

Sylvie Jackson gave an interesting talk on 'Food additives & healthy eating' at the Thursday meeting on 14th June, and included a demonstration of how to cook Chicken Paprika. Many of those at the meeting appreciated the opportunity to sample the tasty dish she had prepared. You can download the recipe here if you want to have a go yourself!


Highly successful 'Waterways Event' on 25th May 2012!

Deeside and Wirral U3A Network held a highly successful 'Waterways Event' at the National Waterways Museum (formerly the Boat Museum)on 25th May 2012. About 200 U3A members enjoyed a wide variety of talks, tours, activities and exhibitions. Jenny Carley and her team of willing helpers are to be congratulated on organising such a memorable event, and they even got the weather right too!

Click here for a few photographs of the day.

'Close and Personal' with Birds of Prey!

David & Valerie Chant, from Stoke on Trent, brought some of their birds of prey, including a Snowy Owl, Barn Owl, Harris Hawk and Eagle Owl, to our meeting on Thursday 10th May. Our members were given the opportunity to get 'close and personal' with the birds. Thanks to David and Valerie for a most memorable and enjoyable presentation.

Click here for a few photos of the birds.

Report, by Andrew Cross, on U3A NW Science Day

U3A NW Science Day, 6/3/12. The audience assembling.

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U3A NW Science Day, 6/3/12. The audience assembling.
U3A NW Science Day, 6/3/12. The four presenters Prof John Stanley, Bob Roach, Daniel Jubb, Dr Peter Rowlands with the organising team from Aughton & Ormskirk U3A.

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U3A NW Science Day, 6/3/12. The four presenters Prof John Stanley, Bob Roach, Daniel Jubb, Dr Peter Rowlands with the organising team from Aughton & Ormskirk U3A.

Eight members of the Science Group made the trip to Skelmersdale on Tuesday 6th March for an appetising day of lectures along with a hundred other U3A members from around the Northwest. The day started with some history of the people and discoveries made at Liverpool University's Physics department. It showed that building large experiments went over budget even in Victorian times! Nuclear physics was a speciality and some well known names including Nobel prize winners worked in the department. This was followed by a profile of Joseph Priestley FRS, the non conformist clergyman who spent part of his life in Warrington. His discovery of oxygen ("dephlogisticated air") was but one of many scientific contributions including writing the 700 page 'The History and Present State of Electricity' in 1767. After lunch we heard of the contribution of science to surgery. In the early days it was really needed with the introduction of anaesthetics and antiseptics improving the survival rates dramatically. Modern materials now enable joint and organ replacement surgery, something of benefit to some U3A members. The day ended with an enthralling description of how to design and build hybrid rocket engines. Daniel Jubb took us through how solid & liquid fuelled rockets work and how a combination of the two is being built for an attempt to take the land speed record to 1,000 mph in the Bloodhound SSC project. A major target of this project is to enthuse children with science and technology with the hope that they will become our next generation of scientists and engineers. More information can be found on the Bloodhound SSC's website. All in all an excellent and stimulating day, many thanks to Aughton & Ormskirk U3A for organising it.


Successful New Year Quiz on 12th January

Winning team at Chester U3A's quiz on 12th January 2012

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Winning team at Chester U3A's quiz on 12th January 2012
Deep in thought at Chester U3A's quiz on 12th January 2012!

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Deep in thought at Chester U3A's quiz on 12th January 2012!

On Thursday 12th January nearly seventy members of Chester U3A shook off their post Christmas lethargy and put their brains to work on the famous New Year Quiz. Tim Carley had once again set some mind challenging and topical questions. The 11 teams gathered round the tables with a sense of anticipation! With the first round having an Olympic theme we had to delve back into memories of competitions and competitors from decades ago. The TV comedy round brought images from the days of black and white to mind with references to Dud & Pete. The food and drink round went down well with a surprising number knowing about obscure fruits and the constituents of various cocktails. The geography sheet had cryptic clues to the names of 40 football clubs which led to many groans when the correct answers were read out. The final scores were close with the 'Cheshire Cheesecake' team taking the honours and getting their picture taken. Many thanks to Tim for preparing and running the event.


Successful Group Fair, 10th November 2011

A highly successful Group Fair was held in St Columba's Church Hall on Thursday 10th November. Representatives of all Chester U3A's groups were there to tell prospective members about their groups' activities. Many thanks to Sheila Young for organising the Fair and to group co-ordinators for creating such eye-catching displays.

Geoff Newcombe was on hand with his trusty camera.
Click here to see some of Geoff's excellent photos.

Jenny Carley stands down as Chairman after successful two year stint

As required by our constitution, Jenny Carley's two year term as Chairman of Chester U3A expired at our AGM on 1st November. Thanks, Jenny, for breathing new life into Chester U3A and for introducing so many worthwhile innovations. Click here to read Jenny's report on her last year in office. Our new chairman is Andrew Cross, who relinquishes his role as IT Liaison Officer. Apart from Jenny, the only other committee member to leave the committee was Brian Holyoak, our Speaker Secretary. Thanks, Brian, for organising such a varied array of speakers over the past six years. Two new committee members were elected, namely Sue Kettle, who takes over from Brian, and John Hammond, our webmaster, who takes on the role of IT Liaison Officer. Click here to see the new committee.


Scams, scams and more scams!

The important issue of computer scams was raised at a recent meeting of the Computer Users Group, the objective of many scams being to gain access to your bank account and extract your hard earned cash. Many of you will have received unsolicited phone calls telling you that your computer has been compromised in some way and offering to fix the problem if you let them have your bank details, or download specialist software, or give them access to your computer. Click here to read about a few of these scams. The best advice we can offer is:

  • Never respond to unsolicited emails that offer money, no matter how enticing. Delete the email.
  • Put the phone down if an unsolicited caller, probably Indian, wants to fix a computer problem for you.
  • Never give personal information or bank account details over the phone or by email.
  • Don't be seduced by the offer of an unexpected windfall. If an offer sounds too good to be true,it probably is!


Virtual U3A, an online-only U3A

The Virtual U3A (vU3a), which went live in January 2009, is an online-only U3A, affiliated to the Third Age Trust. One of its principal aims is to provide the U3A experience for those who are rendered isolated in some way by circumstances or geography and unable to play a full part in a terrestrial U3A. More information is available on vU3A's website where one can also apply for membership. Why not pay it a visit? And if you know of anyone who might benefit, please pass the information on.


Reminder. Don't forget these useful local websites!

This website's External Links page include many links to useful local websites, including entertainment websites and to some of the more useful pages on Cheshire West and Chester's website. One CWAC site that's well worth visiting is Cheshire's remarkable Interactive Mapping site, where you can find the locations of almost any feature, service or function in Cheshire, and can report the precise location of all types of highway faults, including potholes, blocked drains, light failures etc. The enormous database behind the site seems to be updated on a daily basis, and the interactive part of the site is very easy to use - definitely a 5-star site! And don't forget the Chester Performs and Chester Festivals websites which contain a wealth of information about performances and events in Chester, including these free street events!


Successful Art Exhibition at Ness Botanical Gardens

The first 'Deeside and Wirral U3A Network' Art Exhibition was held at Ness Botanical Gardens from 29th April to 2nd May. Over 200 exhibits had been submitted by the U3As in the Network. Ness Gardens proved to be a good venue as over 1400 people visited the exhibition during the four days. The standard of the work was really impressive and there were many favourable comments. Many thanks to all those who played a part in making the exhibition such a success and to all our members who contributed their work. Thanks also to Geoff for taking these photos.


Fascinating talk about the history of the Rhydymwn Valley

At our monthly meeting on 3rd May members were treated to a memorable talk by Colin Barber about the history of the Rhydymwym Valley, a few miles to the west of Mold. Very few of those present were aware that this area played a key part in the development of atomic power, specifically the separation of Uranium isotopes, and in the manufacturing, storage and disposal of chemical and biological weapons. The Rhydymwyn Valley History Society's website provides a huge amount of fascinating information on these developments and is well worth a visit. If you want to know more you could attend one of the Society's Open Days or you could, of course, join the Society itself!


Val Quince wins the Roy Wilson prize for Creative Writing

The Roy Wilson Prize for creative writing was presented to Val Quince at Chester U3A's Thursday Meeting on 10th March. Before reading her story, entitled 'Sandalium infantis', Val explained that it had been her response to a theme, 'baby's bootees', about which members of the Scribblers Writing Group (now merged with the Friday Writers) had been asked to write a story. She warned that her story had been described as 'a bit grim', but stressed that she had written it as a story about love, about loyalty, about suffering and compassion. Click here to read Val's remarkable story. You'll understand, when you've read it, why the judges were unanimous when selecting it as the winning entry. Congratulations, Val, on writing such a memorable story.

Useful talk on how to manage digital photos

Many of our members use digital cameras, so it wasn't surprising that our Thursday Meeting on 14th October attracted an excellent turnout to hear Chester U3A's IT specialist, give a talk and demonstration on how to load and organise photographs on your computer. Andrew managed to cram a great deal of useful information into his comprehensive talk, which is now available as a download. The pdf file is about 2MB, so will take a long time to download if you are still on dial-up.

Click here to download the talk!

Have you thought of using a different browser?

You may have read recently of the German and French governments' advice to their citizens not to use Internet Explorer for browsing the web because of security flaws. Since then Google has announced that it will stop supporting Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), notwithstanding Microsoft's stated intention to continue to support IE6 until 2014. The 50 visitors who use IE6 each month to visit this site should consider using another browser. Microsoft tells us that the security flaws in IE7 and IE8 have been fixed, so these browsers could be used, but they don't support all the coding elements on this website. If you want to see this site in all its glory you might like to try Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Chrome as your browser. Click here for more information about different browsers.

Online learning with the Open University

All of you will be familiar with the Open University, but how many are aware of and OpenLearn? is the online learning portal from The Open University and the BBC. Apart from containing useful information about TV and radio programmes, the site also provides interactive learning modules that contain the sort of subject material you could be studying at the Open University. The OpenLearn website gives free access to course materials from The Open University, and offers a huge number of free courses on almost any topic you might think of! Well worth looking at both web sites.

U3A's National Website

How many of you routinely log on to the Members' Area of U3A's National Website? Are you aware of the U3A Resource Centre, from which U3A groups can borrow slides, videos, cassettes, DVDs and CDs for free? Did you know that there are about forty Subject Networks through which ideas and materials can be shared, or that U3A provides an on-line notice board facility that individuals and groups can use. Interested? All you need to do is to create a login to the members' area. It's all explained on U3A's National Website. What are you waiting for!