U3A Stockton-on-Tees

Location: Stockton has a history - ' Stockton to Darlington' - every one's heard of it - the route of the very first passenger train in the world. But today few people know Stockton - properly named it is Stockton-on-Tees. It's situated in the far North East of England, well off today's main rail and road routes; it's been plagued with unemployment for most of this century and for much of the last. Stockton is a smallish town that's always struggling - but the public gardens are magnificent, the people friendly and it is surrounded by the most beautiful countryside with heather moors and seaside.

Membership and Activities: Our U3A is a relatively small organisation compared with many others, having a membership of around 300. It has about 27/28 Groups including three languages, French, German & Spanish, two walking groups (very keen !) history, philosophy, literature, poetry, several music groups, scrabble, a quiz, a lunch group and many more. Members can go to any or all of these classes for the annual sub. of £30 with good company & with physical and/or mental stimulation thrown in. What value ! We often say nothing else can compare !

In many Groups members take turns to take a lead with a prepared presentation. Maximum participation with lively discussion is the typical ideal pattern. Philosophy is the Group I know most about & the pattern certainly works well there. We are a group of around 12 /14 members, meeting fortnightly, we've been meeting for 4 years now and currently we're studying the modern existentialists. It's serious work with homework but there is a pleasant informal atmosphere, always laughter as well as thoughtful discussion.

Personal comments: The U3A means friendships as well as scholarship. Members meet up for chats & outings, lunches, theatre, films and celebrations. But there is one thing I have to say regretfully about Stockton U3A. It stays small and it does tend to be somewhat inward looking. By this I mean that rarely is any enquiry or interest expressed at our monthly meetings about the national, international or even regional aspects of the U3A organisation. Which is a pity. Never the less our Stockton U3A enhances all our lives.

Mary Cooper