Roger Knight, former chairman of U3A Swansea,, which is on the Gower
Peninsula of Wales:
Meetings and Speakers: Unusually among UK U3As, we hold weekly lectures during University terms and have 150 - 250 members attending. Our arrangement with the University is that they provide a large lecture room with appropriate facilities without charge. The lectures are organised by U3A members and attempt to provide a consistently high standard to stretch the minds of those attending. The Vice Chancellor encourages his staff to offer lectures and personally gives a lecture once a year. Other speakers are drawn from a wide range of sources, including members from our own and other nearby U3As.
Range of Activities: Our groups range from Armchair Travel to Welsh Conversation as well as conversation groups for French, Italian and German and the prospect of Spanish starting soon. The Astronomy group works in conjunction with the local Astronomical Society and has access to big telescopes via the internet from time to time. Our original discussion group voluntarily avoids political and religious matters as a matter of course but a number of members missed the opportunity for political debate and started another group devoted to Politics and Citizenship where lively debate takes place without undue acrimony. One of our crowning achievements was the creation of a Research Group, with strong encouragement from the late Professor Maurice Broady. The Group trawled through local archives to produce a History of Swansea Markets. Just prior to the 1995 Annual Conference, Swansea joined with nearby U3As to provide choral entertainment at the event and went on to create our Singing for Pleasure group. We also have Gardening, Walking, Tai Chi and several reading groups.
What I like best: No longer as physically active as I was, I enjoy [almost all of] our weekly lectures and the opportunity this gives for social interaction with members. Whilst Chairman for two years, I attended all funerals of current and former members and was struck by the small number of these events for the size of our U3A. Thus I am convinced of the truth behind the first part of an old motto "U3A adds years to your life and life to your years"