THAMES VALLEY NETWORK
Representatives’ Meeting held at the Methodist Church, Witney
Friday 28th.January 2011 at 10.30am
Present: Malcolm Backer (Princes Risborough), John Brandis (Haddenham), Agnes Budagowska (Swindon), Diane Carver (Chinnor),
Christine Cox (Bicester), Graham Dawson (Wendover), Jeanie Dickie (Swindon), Clive Dray (Newbury),
Margaret Edmondson (Wallingford), Nadia Ellis (High Wycombe & District), Rita Fidler (Thame & District),
Anthony Fulford (Bracknell Forest), Avis Furness (Reading), George Hunter (Chinnor), Pam Jones (Chairman, Witney),
Fred Landeg (Reading), Anne Marie Lord (Chinnor), Pamela McQueen (Abingdon), Bob Mann (Banbury),
Colin Mitchell (South East Region), June Morris (Abingdon), Kevin Nash (Haddenham), Pam Palmer (Bracknell Forest),
Mark Phillips (Thameside), Mike Price (Greater Thame), Derek Randall (Thame & District), Val Ryan (Headington),
Len Smith (Wokingham), Rosemary Spivey (West Oxford), Shirley Stokes (Aylesbury Vale), Joan Thomas (Banbury),
Patsy Thornton (Wokingham), John Turvey (Woodstock), David Vincent (Goring Gap), Jacky Wagstaff (Ridgeway),
Ann Mary Ware (Marlow & District) Vic Ware (Marlow & District), Geoff Young (Aylesbury Vale).
1.0 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: Mary Blake (Newbury), Ian Clarkson (Faringdon), Pat Davey (Maidenhead),
Tony Gill (Chess Valley), Peter Jarvis (Thatcham), Martin McBride (Carterton), Frank Metcalf (Greater Thames),
Jeanette Morgan (Windsor & District), Louis Moss (South Bucks), Peter Westby (Chess Valley).
2.0 MINUTES OF THE MEETING held on 30th.September 2010. Accepted and signed by the Chairman.
There were no matters arising.
3.0 NETWORK COMMITTEE REPORTS
3.1 Chairman: Pam Jones welcomed representatives to the meeting and said how good it was to have so many U3As represented.
She said that the aim of setting up a more formal Network structure had been to “advance the education of members of U3As
and to encourage the provision of leisure activities for their social welfare by facilitating co-operation between U3As in the Network.”
The attendance at the Study Days we have organised has been most encouraging and the findings from them have been most interesting.
There are 35 U3As current affiliated to the Network. At the very first study day on “Tracing your family history” there were
24 U3As represented. The Training Day last year involved 25, Historic towns 24, Music Day 27 and the conference 23.
She thought that is very good and proves which are the most popular subjects.
However, she thought we should still try to organise days on less appealing subjects even if only for a small number of people.
The Riverside Project has been a very lively, active and interesting project but has not attracted as many U3As as had been hoped.
She did think that all the hard work had been worthwhile and once more thanked the Events and Riverside Project teams for all
their time and effort which had gone in to these activities.
Getting U3As to work together is her aim and to this end she has begun taking her 10 minute PowerPoint presentation to U3As
to put a face and some immediacy into Network activities. She would like to be invited her to all the U3As in our Network.
While in many instances she will be preaching to the converted there may be times when she can arouse fresh interest
which will spread slowly and surely. Personal contact works wonders. Pam hoped that we would continue to work and “Network” together.
There will be a training day at Witney on Friday 13th.May which will free of charge and she hoped that every U3A would be able
to be represented. It should be a very useful day with both Lin Jonas and Mike Long attending to talk to us and assist in the group
discussions. She invited suggestions for subjects which give the most, and often continuing, concern.
These could be integrated into group discussions.
Reports will follow on the last study day and the Riverside Project.
Events for 2011 will be covered later and she reminded everyone that all this information is on the network website.
She closed with thanks for all feedback she received about the network, speaker database and general queries about U3A.
3.2 TREASURER Martin McBride was unable to attend due to serious family problems so Pam read his report.
She will handle financial queries and has the cheque book for any need for Network cheques.
Martin did manage to complete the accounts for the year to 31/12/2010.
We have a good surplus and even allowing for the £2000 which had been agreed to hold for emergencies, we have a large amount.
It had been proposed that we should waive affiliation fees for the period 2011/12 and the forthcoming training day will be free.
Derek Randall queried whether the waiving of fees had been agreed and so the meeting were asked to confirm agreement, which they did
with no objections. Representative meetings are also now free and there may be some support required for the Riverside Project.
Martin is proposing that there be a more in depth review at the AGM which is planned for 6th.May 2011.
Martin also proposed that the cost for study days might be reduced but the committee would have to look at this.
A further study day in 2011 would be a possibility but it would depend on finding a date and subject.
4.0 REGIONAL TRUSTEES’ REPORT
Colin Mitchell, the South East Regional Trustee gave the following report.
For the benefit of newcomers I am your elected trustee and representative on the National Executive Committee (NEC). I represent the
SE Region which is Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Surrey, Sussex and Kent; this is the largest of all the U3A regions with 155 U3As.
Since I last reported to you the NEC has become more relaxed about regional structures and funding as well as giving more consideration to development and funding. I will report on each of these and also mention a project on walking waterways.
The present structure is unbalanced but it is popular in most of the country and we are unlikely to change it in the foreseeable future. Fortunately many of my colleagues on the NEC are beginning to realise that the regions are different and unlikely to operate in the same way. I believe that the SE is actually four sub-regions with these being:
· Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire
· NE Hampshire and SW Surrey
· Rest of Hampshire plus Isle of Wight
· Kent, Sussex and central Surrey (already linked through the SE Forum)
One of my aims is to get this division recognised outside the region
We are currently in the first year of regional support funding where money is made available to regions to fund their regional committee (where one exists), conferences, website and newsletters. I am now preparing a budget for 2011/12 and will be asking your committee to assist in this. There will still be restrictions on how it is spent, e.g. numbers attending conferences, but I can see signs of relaxation on some of them.
The NEC would like to see an increase in the rate of growth for new U3As. This is partly to maintain a growth in capitation income and partly to accommodate the many people across the UK who can’t find a U3A to join. Growth is now seen as a regional responsibility and I will be discussing this with the region’s Educational and Development Contacts (EDCs) on March 4th.
Some regions would welcome paid field workers to help with development and possibly other tasks in the region.
There are many who feel that education is not sufficiently emphasised and the NEC is looking at ways to give it a higher profile.
Olympic Waterways Walk
The April 2010 U3A News suggested a walk of the UK’s waterways as a celebration of the Olympics. There were several expressions of interest and regional trustees have been invited to those in their region who responded. I have written to interested parties in the SE Region pointing out that some financial support could be available.
There were some comments from the floor on this report:
What would paid field workers achieve?
Was there going to be any response from Third Age Trust regarding potential closure of libraries?
Why were National Office pushing for new U3As rather than accepting that some local U3As would just keep growing?
There was much discussion over this question of size and growth and it was agreed that the committee should prepare a letter to
National Office with the Network’s views. Pam requested any member who had thoughts on this to send her an email.
There was emphasis from several U3As that we are all autonomous groups and do not see a need for more control from National Office.
5.0 NETWORK ACTIVITIES
5.1 Events Team:
Ann Mary Ware reported that the team was working well. In addition to a chairman, secretary and treasurer, they now had several
events organisers and leaders as well as support people. However, more helpers are always welcome.
The team is learning about potential problems, are looking for really good speakers on the range of subjects and are also looking for
leaders for specialist study days.
The team are also asking for help from the Network members for more potential venues.
There was discussion on the range of topics for study days this year and ideas for 2012.
The study day on Art of the Gothic was very successful with 80 attendees.
The Historic Towns Day has a fresh venue and there is more space for attendees.
The conference is to be at Swindon on 4th.June. The information is on the website but Swindon was asked to send out details to each U3A
to try and get as many people interested as possible.
A separate list of 2011 and 2012 events will be circulated.
6.1 Contacts List:
Pam requested that she be updated with changes as soon as possible so that U3As can have information to the correct person.
6.2 Speakers data base:
Pam asked again for updates from speaker secretaries. She is trying to add stars for good speakers but needs as much input and updates as possible.
Len said that they were still getting a reasonable number of hits but that he would like to see a lot more. Please push this with your U3A.
For those without Internet Access, Pam will still ensure that information is circulated and asked members to send relevant material to her.
8.0 Riverside Project Update:
Patsy updated us on progress so far and encouraged everybody to look again at all that was happening.
There is concern over getting enough support for the residential conference at Wellington College to close the project but it was agreed
that we should proceed to try and go ahead. We really need 100 people to attend to cover costs.
On the Kingfisher Watch programme, Mark Phillips from Thameside has taken over from Jim Fish.
Mark has also offered to take a groups of up to 15 people round Eton College on the 13th and/or 20th.May. Please contact him if
you are interested.
Headington had a retired people’s meeting and the local U3A were amazed to find that no-one knew about U3A. There was
discussion on publicity with agreement that as well as everyone making their local efforts, we should seek to get a piece on local radio
and TV. There may be a small amount of money from National Office if needed to support such an effort. £100 was mentioned so a
big advertising campaign may not be possible.
John Brandis suggested that we might be able to plan time at the Reps meeting to discuss particular topics with the topic being advertised
in advance in the agenda so that people could prepare.
Lobbying in support of local issues, such as the loss of libraries was also raised. There is support from National Office for us to lobby but
not to try and support any particular political party.
In response to a question regarding members from one U3A attending groups organised by another U3A, it was clarified that the member
did not have to join the other U3A and it was at the discretion of the group leader whether there was room. If the member wanted to
attend another U3A’s main meeting, then they would usually be expected to join that U3A.
8.0 DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING: This will be on Friday 6th.May 2011 in Chinnor Village Hall.
Pam closed the meeting.