U3A THAMES VALLEY NETWORK

Representatives’ meeting held at the Sports Hall, Watlington, courtesy of Ridgeway U3A,

on Monday 18th February 2013

Present:

Committee - Pam Jones – Chairman (Trustee South East Region, Witney U3A), Agnes Budagowska Treasurer (Swindon), Martin McBride (Carterton), Anne Marie Lord Secretary (Chinnor & District), Susie Berry (Ridgeway), Ann Mary Ware (Marlow), Avis Furness (Reading).

 

Reps. Geoff Young and Shirley Stokes (Aylesbury Vale), John Haywood (Banbury), Christine Cox (Bicester), Theresa Doherty (Bracknell Forest), Ian Wright (Carterton), Eric Magson (Chess Valley), Vic Faulkner and Tim Layfield (Chiltern), George Hunter and Dorrie Oliver (Chinnor & District), Roy Coates (Chipping Norton), Anne Hales and Liz Sweet (Didcot & District), Sylvia Bowley and Anthony Burdall (Faringdon), Ann Walsh (Goring Gap),  Pam Feltbower (Greater Thame), Ruth Waddle (Headington), Harry Burnham (Maidenhead), Mike Davies (Marlow), Clive Dray (Newbury), Pat Fewell, Angela Jacob and Shirley Jones (Ridgeway), Jen Hunt (South Bucks), Jeanie Dickie (Swindon), Peggy Miles and Derek Randall (Thame and District), Neil Kelly (Thameside), Margaret Sherrington (West Oxford), Valerie Palmer (Witney), Barry Byrne, Patsy Thornton and Edward Miles (Wokingham).

 

1.0          Apologies:

Committee -Mike Price Vice-chairman (Greater Thame), Len Smith (Wokingham)                      

Reps: Anne Gould and Pauline Nuttall (Abingdon), Tony Fulford (Bracknell Forest), Peter Metcalf (Chiltern), John Brandis and Carol Mason (Haddenham), Lesley Holmes and Angela Liveing (Henley), Barbel Cheesewright and Nadia Ellis (High Wycombe), Colin O’Rourke (South Bucks), Margaret Edmondson (Wallingford), Thia Brereton (Wantage and Grove), Shirley Rawlings and Tony Hodson (Witney)

 

2.0          Minutes of 30/11/12

i Anne Marie advised the meeting that apologies from Mike Davies (Marlow and District) should have been recorded and she highlighted an error under 3.1 in which the sentence “The TVN members do not vote unless their own U3A has no representative present.” should read “ The TVN Committee members…” She explained that both amendments had been made in italics in the Minutes presented for approval of those present to be signed by the Chairman. It was also noted that the date for this meeting had been recorded as Friday 18th February.

ii There has been some confusion about the way Committee and Reps are recorded on the Minutes. Committee members are listed first, the U3A of which they are a member is also given, the list of Reps follows in U3A alphabetical order. The Secretary will try to make this clearer.

iii The Minutes were duly approved and signed.

2.1 Matters arising

      6.3 The revised Trust website should be ready by Easter.

2.2 Any other matters arising

There has been an enthusiastic response to the Memory Course at Maidenhead U3A. It has already held a second Memory course and is planning to run a third in May. Two representatives from Wokingham have attended a pre-course session. The course is run for 4 sessions of 2 hours duration. The recommended number of participants is 12 but Maidenhead find it works best with 10.

Swindon, Marlow and Wokingham U3As have asked to attend a briefing session for potential presenters. This session takes about an hour.

Pam will discuss with the TVN Committee the possibility of a representative giving a short review at the AGM in May.

 

3.0 Network Committee Reports

3.1    Chairman (summary)

The Chairman welcomed all those present. Pam reported that there had been few study days since the last TVN Reps’ meeting and that the Committee meeting had been cancelled due to poor weather. The events Team had met and there are plans for several very interesting study days. She described the way in which Sussex organises study days, they hold 9 a year and move around the county with the local U3A helping with the administration for each particular day. It may be an idea worth pursuing as individual U3As will perhaps feel included to a greater extent within the Network. Workshops on U3A related subjects are also arranged in Sussex for which grants are claimed from the Third Age Trust. These workshops are facilitated by U3A members on matters such as websites, newsletters, committee members etc. with around 20-30 people attending. With more U3As in TVN it may be worth considering.

Pam feels that the north of our Network is neglected and plans to address this by holding a “Meet the Trustee” meeting for those U3As that do not attend TVN meetings and those that do not belong to TVN. This meeting would include information about TVN and the benefits of belonging. She would also like to repeat the meeting held last year in High Wycombe for Group Leaders and Co-ordinators but would hold it in Aylesbury or Bicester. The idea behind these meetings would be to ensure a real understanding of the advantages of networking to all U3As and their members in the Thames Valley Network.

Referring to the House of Lords debate on Friday 7th December Pam said that it was a wonderful day and she felt privileged to be there. She invited Martin McBride to give a brief report  see section 8 of these minutes.

The debate was recorded in a special edition of Hansard and Pam had paperwork for Reps. to look at after the meeting. She also reported that Bromley Education Department has taken up the challenge of intergenerational debates and arranged one for 19th March between U3A members and students at Hayes school in Bromley. Pam will attend as Chairman of the Education Committee as this event is viewed as a template for future debates.

Our next meeting is to be on May 10th at Benson Village Hall. This will be the AGM and meeting in the morning, lunch will then be available and Barbara Lewis, our new Chairman, will be guest speaker in the afternoon. Currently only 2 representatives attend meetings at Watlington due to restricted space but the AGM will be open to any members. Admission will be by ticket as lunch will need to be booked if required and U3As were asked to encourage members especially Committee members to attend.

Finally, Pam told the meeting that she is approaching the end of her 3 years as Chairman and that a new chairman would be elected and that there would be one or two places on the Committee. Nominations will be requested in a few weeks’ time. TVN has been running for 6 years and Reps. were encouraged to help it continue to thrive.

 

3.2    Treasurer’s report

Agnes circulated copies of the TVN Account Summary 1st January 2012- 31st December 2012 and TVN Account summaries for December 2012 and January 2013.

Reps. were asked to strike through the deficit of £302.43 shown on the Summary 01/01/12 – 31/12/12 as this did not relate to any part of the accounts. The balance at year end was £3887.47 and the balance at the end of January 2013 was £4204.97.

3.2i South Bucks commented that they have experienced a high increase in hall rent which will eventually impact on their membership subscription. It was suggested that splitting groups could enable groups to meet in members’ homes.

 

4.0    Network Activities

4.1. Patsy Thornton reported on the Historic Pathways project: A  meeting to launch the project will be held on Thursday 14th March at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley. Two places were still available. Twenty-one U3As will be represented. The aim is to look at the history of pathways all over the TVN area. An example was given of research on an ancient pathway that is likely to be a drovers’ way marked by ponds, some members are researching the history and others walking the path. Information will be put on the website, a calendar of walks is to be put on shortly and Avis is maintaining a research log. Please contact Avis if you wish to research a particular footpath and give her information regarding walks.

 

4.2 Further dates for Study days in 2013:

·         13th April photography study day at Cressex Community school. Bookings are going well, just 5 more people are needed to break even but there are more spaces still available.

·         28th May Book readers’ study day arranged by Patsy Thornton at Wokingham. 36 bookings have been received to date.

·         July – Jazz day, this is not taking place. Bob Jones is now seeking a date in October.

 

·         September 19th History of High Wycombe activities day. This will be held at the Clare Foundation at Saunderton. Cost £15 and limited to 80 delegates. Information will be available shortly.

 

A second Historic pathways event may be arranged depending on feedback from the March event. It is intended that this meeting would pick up on Oxfordshire pathways and could be held at Benson or the Shillingford Hotel.

 

October Training day on Communication and Publicity. Pam is waiting to find out if Francis Beckett is available.

 

November Opera day on Benjamin Britten is still in the planning stage.

A wine tasting day is being planned for October/November with wine experts and demonstrations.

 

4.3 A Residential Summer school is being considered for 2014. Rewley house in Oxford can provide accommodation at around £350 full board, a day rate could also be offered. As Reps. felt this was acceptable Anthony Burdall will pursue the idea further. A concern was raised that science and social science are less well catered for than arts.

 

4.4 Planning into 2014 :

March 2014 possible Family History study day.

South Bucks “Understanding German” group is interested in arranging a study day. No dates yet.

May/June Study day on railways – Didcot U3A

A Computer study day was discussed for those who are thinking of getting a computer or have one and do not know how to use it. It was felt that fear of computers may not encourage people to attend a study day and that a presentation focussing on the positive aspects of computing for communication may be the way forward. Wokingham is running a computer day titled “All that you wanted to ask..” which has 90 delegates and is oversubscribed. There is therefore a need, it was felt that it might be useful for someone to visit Wokingham on their study day (4th April). Anthony Burdall will work with Sylvia Bowley and Martin McBride to put together a presentation using multimedia. Didcot were invited to join the group but will make a decision in May.

Other study days under consideration include Popular music and the Arts and Crafts Movement.

 

5 Regional/National matters –

5.1 National matters

Pam explained that the Third Age Trust is the umbrella for the U3A movement and is a Charity with an elected National Executive Council. All U3As are charities. There are full and part-time employees in the National Office for example Julie Travers looks after new U3As and Fran Walton looks after the website. The £3.50 capitation covers a lot that is available including resources from the Resources Centre, there is a separate website for resources on-line. The NEC comprises a Chairman, 2 Vice-Chairmen, Treasurer and 12 Trustees, they manage the Trust’s affairs meeting 6 times a year. They make decisions concerning the Third Age Trust and serve on the various NEC Committees. 

5.2 Insurance

The main insurance is with Aviva and now includes £25000 all risks equipment cover. The excess is £100.

Damage to the property of any member while hosting a meeting has a limit of £25000.

For U3A cash held in a member’s home or whilst in transit the limit is £1000 with no excess.

The summary sheet was described as excellent and Pam was asked to compliment the National Office.

U3As are strongly advised to use a travel agent when arranging holidays.

The Trustees’ indemnity is £250,000 with an excess of £250.

Pam was asked to query the Charity Indemnity insurance and to clarify whether there is cover for members if there is negligence.

5.3 Francis Beckett is offering to give talks on publishing books.

 

5.4 Discussion – Communication, Distribution of Newsletters

Some U3As reported that they were increasing their subscriptions to cover postage for their newsletters.

Postage was done directly from the printers in some cases. A cascade system of hand delivery is used by Greater Thame. Other U3As distribute via e-mail and on their websites.

The number of Newsletter editions also varied from bi-monthly to quarterly and bi-annually. Chiltern is to discuss newsletter publication and distribution with Barnet U3A who produce a monthly e-mail. They are considering implementing two subscription rates, the lower being for those receiving information via e-mail and a higher one for those receiving it by post. Marlow already operate in this way and the Secretary sends out up-date messages on a daily basis.

Didcot suggested using Facebook and Twitter for communication and Swindon Committee use Skydrive.

5.5 Content of Newsletters

This tends to be news/information of general interest with some U3As issuing a monthly bulletin covering current items.

5.6 It was suggested that ideas on the above are pooled at the October 4th “Study day”, venue to be decided.

5.7 U3As were asked to bring examples of Newsletters to the AGM.

 

6.0 Network Information

6.1 Contacts List

6.2 Speaker’s Database Martin reported that he receives a number of unsolicited e-mails from speakers but does not include them on the database unless he also receives recommendations from U3As. The latest copy is with Mike.

6.3 Website      www.u3atvnetwork.org.uk

 

7.0 AOB 

7.1 In response to a query about changes in arrangements for delivery of “Third Age Matters” Pam explained that from April bulk mailings of the publication to U3As will no longer take place. The magazine will only be sent by direct mail to individual members at a cost of £2.10 per person to cover postage for 5 copies per year.  Members will be able to opt out and some U3As may choose to opt out.

Several comments were made about the magazine including the fact that articles about study days were interesting but more educational content would be appreciated.

 

8.0 The Lord’s Debate 7th December 2012

Summary of report given by Martin McBride with input from Patsy Thornton:

The Debate was an event organised by the English Speaking Union in conjunction with the House of Lords “outreach programme”. It was to be an intergenerational debate with students from around the country and U3A members taking part. The title was “Who should be responsible for the care of the vulnerable in our society, the State, The Family or The Third Sector.” 

Martin reported that he had spent much time working closely with students from Banbury Academy. They were arguing the case that the Third Sector should bear the main responsibility. Baroness Jill Pitt-Keithley advised on protocol and offered some suggestions to include in the debate.

Martin was a “keynote2speaker” and his role was to speak last for Banbury, respond to points raised and conclude the case before voting took place.

The day included a tour of The Houses of Parliament and lunch. One of the highlights was that those taking part were able to sit on the “Red Leather Seats”, something normal visitors and even the Prime Minister are not allowed to do.

The final vote went in favour of The State but Banbury won a moral victory due to the quality of their presentations. Martin said he enjoyed working with the enthusiastic students and sharing such a remarkable experience with them. He felt all were enriched by the interchange of ideas in preparing for the debate and that the students grew in confidence as witnessed by the quality of their presentations. Patsy fully endorsed this and said that her own experience had been just as enriching for all taking part.

 

8.1 Pam felt that this had been a valuable activity but stressed that U3A is not political and views expressed by any U3A member were their own and not those of U3A. She suggested that maybe TVN could continue the intergenerational debate with schools.

 

9 Date of next meeting …  AGM   Friday 10th May 2013* at Benson Village Hall. 10am for 10.30am

AGM/ Reps meeting in the morning.  Barbara Lewis, Chairman of the Third Age Trust will speak after lunch.

 

 

date …………….  Chairman ………………                                                     10/03/13

 

NB *Ticket only, application form available, see website.