Monday 22nd February 2010

Goddard Arms, 1 High Street, Swindon


PRESENT: Anthony Burdall (Faringdon) (Chairman), Susie Berry (Ridgeway), Agnes Budagowska (Swindon), Ian Clarkson (Faringdon), Pat Davey (Maidenhead), Jeanie Dickie (Swindon), Clive Dray (Newbury),  Pat Fewell (Ridgeway), Joanna Hughes (Goring), Peter Jarvis (Thatcham),  Pam Jones (Witney), Martin McBride (Carterton),  Sheila McLean (Bicester),Colin Mitchell (S.E. Region), Pam Palmer (Bracknell Forest), Mark Phillips (Thameside), Len Smith (Wokingham), Patsy Thornton (Wokingham), Vic Ware (Marlow). (19)


1.0.. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:  Tony Biddle (Chess Valley),  Margaret Bultitude (South Bucks), Adam Cave (Newbury), Margaret Edmondson (Wallingford), David Fotherby (West Oxford), Deirdre Mann (Greater Thame), Mike Price (Greater Thame), Colin Sear (Chinnor), Brand Sharpe (Wendover), Isobel Sheppard (Goring Gap).  Mary Trout (Reading), David Vincent (Goring Gap), Geoff Young (Aylesbury Vale).



2.1.   Comments on last Minutes: None

2.2.  Actions arising: (2.3) Formation of a Network Research Committee  by Peter Jarvis.  A national committee of about 5 people had been formed and would meet on 23rd February with Alex McMinn as Chairman.

2.3.  Any other matters arising: None.



3.1. Chairman’s Report:  Anthony reported that there have been two committee meetings since the last  Representatives’ Meeting.  Two U3As have joined the Network – Chess Valley (Chesham) and Thame & District.  Windsor may join later.  Some members of Thame & District came to the Creative Writing Study Day last November and now feel it important to be a part of the Network.

The committee has now formed an Events Group/Team.  IsobelSheppard was to lead that team but is  moving to Scotland.  A new leader is required (since the meeting, Ann Mary Ware of Marlow U3A has agreed to lead the team). This group will organize all events apart from the Network Conference but will not be responsible for putting the programme together.

The next representatives’ meeting will be the AGM and the committee deliberated on the future content of the new committee.

3.2.  Secretary’s Report: None

3.3. Treasurer’s Report: Accounts had already been circulated.  Martin McBride took over the job part way through the year.  Everything seemed fine.  He reported that there is a rosy balance in the bank.  He does not yet have the costs for the Abingdon Study Day on February 17th.  This training day had been provided free of charge as the Network had accrued a reasonable balance and wanted to use the money for the benefit of its members.  He had paid a deposit for the Rowing Museum.  There is an unassigned amount in last year’s accounts, which applies to this year’s Oxford Summer School.  Martin reported that he would  be happy to continue as Treasurer but would also be very happy if someone wished to take over from him.  The accounts will be adopted at the AGM on April 29th.  He invited questions but there were none.



4.1. Regional Representative’s Report:  Colin began by reminding members of the size of the Region.  It stretches from Milton Keynes to Hampshire and the south coast and from Lymington to Dover.  Colin has been round all the networks since he last talked to Thames Valley Network.  There are 152 U3As.  There is a big variation in the networks.  Kent has just started study days, Hampshire/Surrey has not yet started but Sussex has been organizing study days for 20 years.  At the beginning of the year every member of Sussex receives the programme of study days.

When Colin last talked to Thames Valley it was on the subject of funding from National Office for the Network Conference.  This would have involved inviting all U3As in the Region and only receiving funding for 2 members of each U3A.

At the last national AGM Crawley U3A proposed that the NEC should look at representation and particularly at the South East Region having more than one Trustee because of its size.  This was recently discussed by the NEC and  turned down flat, as the committee could not see why the  South East should be different from other regions.  Colin felt very disheartened and was considering resignation as a protest, as he couldn’t see how to continue but was talked out of this.

4.2. Regional Support Structures and their funding by the Trust:  Colin referred to the letter of 2009 on Regional Support Structures, which laid out what the Trust would fund by way of Regional support.  Colin believes that in the future, rather than the National Treasurer controlling all finance, funding may come to Regional Treasurers.  North East and North West Region are fighting for that now.  The question was asked how the money would be allocated – would it be per capita?  If so, then the South East should have a large proportion of money.  The ground must therefore be prepared and the Network should provide Regional representatives.  Anthony Burdall did not agree.  Colin wants to see a Regional committee with Treasurer but realized that some U3As have chosen not to join Networks, so the whole thing may have to be organized differently, perhaps on a County basis.

In order to discuss these matters, a conference is to be held on April 8th at Wellington College, which is a reasonably central point for Lymington, Hayling Island and the more northerly U3As, etc.  There is a similar conference running in East Grinstead, servicing the counties in the east of the Region and part of Surrey.  Ian Searle will be coming to Wellington College together with Lin Jonas.  Ian Searle sees such conferences as improving the democratic process by getting officers out into the field.  Colin hopes that U3As will send 2 representatives and that the closer U3As will act as stewards.  Martin suggested that there could be an ‘unofficial capacity’ person to help Colin in each half of the Region with travel expenses funded as for Colin.  It was felt that the Trust was becoming a ‘top-down’ organization.  Len Smith said that there are some very successful U3As in Thames Valley Network and that it is invidious that the Trust can impose conditions upon us financially.   It was felt that the problems were arising because U3A numbers are increasing so quickly with an anticipated half a million in 5 years.  Then one office in Bromley will be unable to manage.  It might mean moving towards more offices in larger regions.  Anthony felt that it was not this Network’s job to be the debating forum for such conjectures.



5.1. Contacts List: This has recently been distributed.

5.2. Database of Speakers: As above.  Pam asked for feedback and information on contacts and speakers

5.3. Network website:  Len reported that there had been record hits in January 2010 – 224 since he had requested that the website address should go on all Anthony’s communications.  It is linked to all the U3A websites of which Len is aware.  He asked that website managers put a link back to the Network website.  Some do, some don’t.  He constantly updates the site and hopes that people look at it.  Vic Ware asked if it would be possible to have the names of all Groups Coordinators in order to share information but it was decided that this was not practical.  One problem with communication is that some chairmen ‘bin’ information so that it doesn’t reach its correct source.

Martin McBride asked whether affiliation forms should go out in the post or by e-mail.  Anthony suggested both to cover all eventualities (Anthony and Martin to discuss).



6.1. Events Sub Group:  This has now been set up and it is hoped to get 10 – 12 people on the team.  The group will meet 3 or 4 times each year The number of events is growing.  Anthony asked members to speak to him if they are interested in joining the group.  The leader of the group will also be on the Network Committee.

6.2.  Riverside Project:  This project is to be led by Agnes Budagowska and Patsy Thornton jointly.  Their skills are quite different but they will work well together.  The plan is to tie together and run a series of activities based on the River Thames until autumn 2011.  The activities could include photography, painting, study of river bridges, flora and fauna, birdwatching, quilting etc. etc.  The structure is not yet clear as the leaders need U3As to tell them what they are willing to undertake.  The launch will take place at the end of ‘The Historic Towns of the Thames Valley’ Study Day on March 17th.  The initial Planning meeting will be held in Goring Village Hall on Wednesday 21st April.  It is hoped that as many U3As as possible be represented at that meeting in order to help with planning.  They must be U3A members.  There will be further events between 21st April and the School in Wellington College (October 2011).  It is hoped that there will be a Thames Source walk in May this year and there will be a ‘necklace’ of events once a month.  The best vehicle for information about the project will be the Network website but there will be other means of information too.  Agnes was not happy about the way places had been allocated at the Study Day.  It is hoped that there will be another similar day.  Priority will be given to members already on the waiting list.  It was felt that details of the project should be sent to U3A News.    21st April meeting – members attending to pay nominal fee to cover costs.  Pay on the day.  Anthony will prepare an application form and flyer.

Wellington College is booked for 19/20/21st October 2011.  There should be speakers to inform, projects to be reported on, exhibitions etc.   Applications from January 2011.  There are single bedrooms at the college but shared bathrooms.   If people require en-suite facilities, there are two hotels nearby.

The aims of the Project are a) to walk the Thames Path and b) to get all U3As working together and forming friendships.

6.3. Programme for 2010:  Network Conference on June 2nd 2010 in Emmbrook School, Wokingham, hosted by Wokingham U3A.  Brochures of the programme were distributed.  A great deal of thought and hard work had gone into making an interesting programme.  Len Smith explained that the organizing committee had considered applying for funding from the Third Age Trust but each U3A would have had only 2 people funded, which would have proved divisive.   The conference would then have had to be entitled ‘Regional’ Conference.  The committee therefore decided to fund the conference in the usual way.  The cost is £16 to include a baguette lunch.  Brochure including application form  is on the Wokingham and Network websites.

Study Days: There had been 100 members  at the ‘Sharing Experience’ training day for Group Leaders on February 17th at the John Mason School in Abingdon.  With some minor hiccoughs, this had been a very worthwhile day and much appreciated.

‘Historic Towns of the Thames Valley’ – March 17th.  Patsy Thornton reported that all is set up for this day.  The day is over-subscribed but hopefully, there will be another one.  Anthony suggested that if the day is a success, the venue should be booked immediately for a second study day.  Patsy is to enquire about dates in the second half of September.

Classical Music Study Day – June 28th 2010:  Anthony is organizing this but will not be present.  He is planning to have a main speaker and then asking Music Group Leaders from U3As to each select a composer, with the main speaker winding up the whole day.  He envisaged use of CDs to illustrate composers’ styles etc.  Vic Ware is to ask Brian Humphrey to contact Anthony as he may be able to assist.

Food Science Day – 7th October 2010 at the Museum of Rural Life, Reading:  Isobel Sheppard has booked venue but will not be able to organize.  Patsy is happy to liaise with museum.

‘Aspects of Architecture from Gothic to Strawberry Hill ‘– 10th November 2010: Date has to be confirmed.  Joanna Hughes is organizing this day.

Oxford Study Day at Merton College – 15th September 2010:  Flyers have gone out.  Mike Price will have to make decision on the viability of this day.  He requires 25 people.

Thameside U3A Antiques Study Day – May 5th 2010:  Mark Phillips distributed details to every U3A. Further details can be obtained from the Thameside website.  He outlined the day. There will be 3 very good speakers, 5 workshops and valuations.  Lunch is not provided but there are numerous eating places in Wallingford and a long lunch period has been allowed.

6.4.   Programme for 2011 Network Conference in Swindon on Saturday 4th June 2011 at New College.

Study Days:  The list is flexible but Anthony and Len are very keen that one on ‘The Global Economy’ should take place.   It may prove to be of minority interest, so a flexible venue would be necessary to cater for small or large numbers.

Network Training Day:  For Chairmen and Officers.  This should be an annual event and free to members.

Bridge Day:  This could be part learning and part playing or in the form of a tournament.  There appears great interest in the subject.

Network Lunch:  Various suggestions were made but it was decided not to have a lunch in 2010.  Situation to be reviewed  in 2011.  It could take the form of a meal after a Representatives’ Meeting. 

2012: Anthony asked if any U3A would volunteer to host the 2012 Network Conference.  Nobody came forward.

Study Days:  Art History seems popular.  Anthony asked for ideas.  Once again, Len pointed out that there is a form on the website, asking for ideas but none has yet been completed!

Pam Palmer suggested that individual U3As could take on Study Days as Thameside U3A has done but Anthony felt that the whole idea of the Network days, was to encourage cooperation among Network U3As.






AGM 2010:  The next Representatives’ Meeting will be the AGM on Thursday 29th April in Watlington..  Anthony listed the present committee – Anthony Burdall (Chairman), Martin McBride (Treasurer), Pam Jones (Secretary), Clive Dray, Peter Jarvis, Mike Price, Len Smith and  Isobel Sheppard.  Anthony and Clive have come to the end of their term of office, Isobel Sheppard is moving to Scotland, so there will be three vacant places on the committee.  Agnes Budagowska and Ann Mary Ware have offered to join the committee.   Anthony asked for nominations for the vacant places including that of Chairman.  Colin Mitchell is an ex officio member of the committee as Regional Trustee but does not have voting rights.



Annual General Meeting on Thursday April 29th at 10 for 10.30am at the Sports Pavilion, Watlington.  Lunch will be available.