From Tony Searle, Chairperson of U3A Helderberg, South Africa.

The Surroundings
Our organisation gets its name from a distinctive Mountain Peak, The Helderberg, which means "clear mountain" which is situated about 45 kms from Cape Town.

In the natural amphitheatre formed by the Hottentots Holland mountain range, the area stretches down to the shores of False Bay. The area has a mild Mediterranean climate, ideal for wine production, which is well established and was started in 1679. The branch serves three towns, namely: Somerset West, Strand, Gordon's Bay and Stellenbosch. This area is popular with retired people as it offers: majestic blue mountains, rolling vineyards, an awesome warm ocean and a plethora of fine arts and culture, available in the Mother City, Cape Town.

Looking back
Started in 2003, the branch has grown phenomenally and in 2014 had the largest number of paid up Members in South Africa, 1597 members.

" Monthly General Meetings: Eminent and popular speakers are invited to cover a diverse range of topics such as: Refloating the ship, the Costa Concordia - wrecked off the coast of Tuscany [Nic Sloane, from Somerset West], Liar, Liar, try to catch me if you can [Adriaan v Rooyen, Forensic Pschycologist], Escape from Pretoria Prison [Tim Jenkin, apartheid activist], Detained in Dubai [Dr Cyril Karabus] and Take me to New York [Vasti Geldenhuys, who rowed across the Atlantic with her partner]

Activity Groups and Courses: currently there are 43 groups/courses, who meet in library halls, church halls and members' houses. The groups are divided into the following categories: Arts & Crafts, Skills, Cultural, Languages, Literature, Outdoor & Environmental, Wellbeing and Social. Some of the most popular Groups are: Current Affairs & Media, Palaeontology, Theatre Group, Hiking, Computer Literacy Programme, Makers of History, Wine and Dine, Money Matters, Exploring the Countryside, Painting with Water Colours and Curry Classes.

In conclusion
A common remark is: "We lived and worked inland all our lives but wanted to retire down at the coast, in the beautiful Helderberg area, so we did just that. But when we got here we had left all our friends behind. Thank goodness for U3A, who helped us make many new friends - and we are keeping our minds active as well, viva U3A".