Driffield News

u3a: The university where all you need is a love of learning

A love of learning later in life has seen Driffield’s u3a group continue to thrive, with groups set up ranging from jazz and blues to scrabble.

The organisation is going from strength to strength locally, and an influx of new members as lockdown restrictions have eased has seen it pass the 400 mark.

Around 50 newcomers have signed up in recent months, with many finding it a perfect way to boost confidence and combat loneliness, as well as learning new skills and passing on information about their own personal areas of expertise.

Chairman Stephen Wells said: “u3a is a huge organisation which is in just about every village and town in the country.

I would suggest our activities are mainly aimed at those in the 50-plus age group but younger people are more than welcome

Stephen wells

“Every u3a is autonomous and in and we operate 35 or 40 different interest groups in Driffield.

“It covers three main areas: exercise and fitness; entertainment and fun and education. No qualifications are required and none are given.

“Among our groups, we have a very active archaeology group and a geology group and we have a weekly film show. The local history group is one of the largest and another popular one is classical music and opera.

The Driffield u3a ukelele band

“We have a monthly meeting for the whole organisation, and for 10 months out of 12, we have a guest speaker from a very wide spectrum. We have had talks on Dracula, Agatha Christie and next month, we have one of Yorkshire’s finest wildlife photographers.

“Before lockdown happened, we were hovering around 400 members. When lockdown happened, and we could only do things on Zoom, a percentage of our members didn’t have internet access, and they fell away.

“What has happened now is, not only have they come back, but we have picked up a number of new members too.”

Among the new members are Malcolm and Andra Batchelor, who moved to the Driffield area from Huddersfield last May.

Malcolm said: “We didn’t know anybody, but we used to belong to the u3a in Huddersfield.

“Coming to a new town, we thought it was one of the obvious things to do and, as a result, we have found various groups and got to know new people.

“We lived in Huddersfield for 40 years and had a very active life, but we are doing more in Driffield than we ever were in Huddersfield.

Malcolm and Andra Batchelor joined the Driffield u3a after moving here last year.

“u3a has been a great vehicle for meeting people in a community where we were total strangers.”

u3a has been running in Driffield for more than a decade.

“From the start, I think there was a lot of interest in Driffield and it started with a bit of a bang, and around 200 members almost instantly,” said Stephen.

“There is no age limit. The u3a is for people who are no longer in full-time employment. I would suggest our activities are mainly aimed at those in the 50-plus age group but younger people are more than welcome.

The latest guest speaker was diplomat turned author Jean Harrod.

“There are some people who have joined because they have a specific interest, and they only want to go to that group and nothing else, and other people embrace the concept of trying new things and they might play table tennis one day, go on a walk the next and then come to the film show.

“As new members join up and have new interests, we look for somebody who could lead new groups. We have several potential new groups in the pipeline, including bridge and wine appreciation.

“We just try to reflect what the members want and it is a remarkably inexpensive club.

“It costs £15 per year to join and there is sometimes a nominal charge for some clubs which have to hire a room, but we try to be totally inclusive.”

Full details of all the Driffield branch’s activities are on its website www.u3asites.org.uk/driffieldwolds

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