Welcome to Newport U3A's website

The Transporter Bridge, Newport
Gregg Platt

21st AGM

Welcome everyone to the 21st Annual General Meeting of Newport U3A.

This is the fourth Chairman's report I have prepared, and every year when I look back, I am always amazed to see how much we have achieved, so to highlight some of the events:

In May 2013 we took part in the Gwanwyn Festival; Art and Craft Groups displayed some of their wonderful work, and Line dancing performed and encouraged the public to join in. The Third Age Singers and Creative Writing Groups arranged and held an excellent Concert in the Church.

In June we held our annual Quiz, organised and run by Eric Cunnell and Pam Cocchiara. Once again it was very competitive; nine teams took part with three clear winners. Pam also arranged a raffle with prizes donated by our members. This year the quiz will be held on Friday 6 June.

History Group meeting was on 6 June so decided to hold a D Day Celebration party - Pat Fackrell decorated the room and tables with flags and bunting, the members wore 1940's dress, we ate wartime type food and sang songs from the period, it was a fun afternoon enjoyed by everyone.

The Fifth Produce Show was in July, and the high standards were maintained - the flower displays were amazing, especially considering the weather had been very hot on the days before the show; and who can forget the baking competition - my mouth still waters at the thought of the delicious lemon drizzle cakes, sampled and enjoyed by everyone. The climax of the day was when Mary Purnell arranged for the usual "Chelsea style" judging, awards and prizes.

Open Day in August was memorable, but for different reasons: there was torrential rain, and the visitors had nowhere to park because the council decided to dig up and re-tarmac all the roads around the building! The Official opening was carried out by the Mayor Cliff Suller and his wife Christine. In spite of the road- works, the day was a success with 36 new members joining in September/October.

In September Vanessa Mason and Pam Marlowe attended the Third Age Trust National AGM on our behalf. Vanessa gave a very good report back to the October Monthly meeting, encouraging members to volunteer to attend the AGM meeting as it is very informative.

The Senior Citizens Open Day was in October, and as usual we had our favourite three tables near the coffee bar. The organisers offered us space on their programme to advertise our U3A, and we filled two pages with photos, information and "one liners". We had a further 16 new members during the month.

The Craft sale once again proved to be very popular, with a large variety of items all hand made by the Craft Group. From the sale they raised £450 and shared it between Ty Hafen, McMillan Nurses and the British Heart Foundation.

Continuing in Pat's tradition of making an annual Craft display, this year they made "A Christmas Dinner", everything was knitted - the prawn cocktail, turkey, peas, red cabbage ... and of course the Christmas cake. The full display was shown at the Dolman Theatre as part of our 20thCelebration Concert.

The annual Carol Service was taken by the new Minister, the Reverend Richard Gillion; six Groups took part, and they greatly appreciated the Minister as he gave his thanks in the language the Group had performed. During the Service a collection of £232 was made and donated to "Sparkle".

In December a class from the Crindau Primary School came to sing carols for the Friday morning U3A groups. Everyone agreed it was a lovely gesture enjoyed by all the members, and hopefully they will make a return visit this year.

In February to support the British Heart Foundation in their "Red Letter day", Craft, French and History Groups dressed in red, made cakes, and held a raffle. Amazingly £300 was collected, and added to the £150 from the Craft Christmas Bazaar, making a total of £450 for British Heart Foundation.

A number of our Groups including Walkers, Spanish, Wildlife and Gardening and History have arranged holidays, overnight stays and day trips. Latin, Art History and Art have arranged day visits linked to their subjects.

The Theatre Group has attended some wonderful shows including last Night of the Welsh Proms, The Welsh Remembrance Concert, Ghost, and Only Men Aloud.

With the support of St John's Ambulance a second group of twelve members have been trained in basic first aid. They have received their certificates so congratulations to all of them.

The Third Age Singers have continued to develop their repertoire, and over the year they have given ten Concerts to outside organisations, and as a result they have donated £200 to Age Concern Cymru, £200 to St Woolos Hospital for the Lymph-assist machine, and £100 to Abi Lewis towards "Moving Mountains Charity" to help the orphanage in Kenya.

At the end of the year our Membership was very healthy 372. Three new groups started this year: Ukulele for beginners, Bridge and Spanish for beginners. I am pleased to report all 33 groups are thriving.

Our Website run by Barbara Phillips continues to have a big role in the success of recruiting new Members, and a resource for existing members to check out the latest news and information on our activities. On average we get about a thousand visits a month onto the site.

The link with the Scout/Girl Guide Christmas stamps has proved to be very positive, so we have agreed to continue for Christmas 2014. We are also in the process of producing an information leaflet about our U3A, which hopefully will be available by the end of this term.

During the year Pam Ambrosen has produced two high quality Newsletters, which were used at our Open Day and formed a major part of the publicity issued to the public. So a plea on Pam's behalf, please keep sending articles and information to her - last date for publication is June.

We have had an invitation to take part in the Caerleon Arts Festival on 12 and 13 July 2014. We will hire a marquee for our Craft and Art Groups to display their work. The Festival will also allow us to publicise our U3A and issue the Newsletter and leaflets to the public.

During the year a number of our previous members have died including Elizabeth Forsythe, Tom Wood (one of our Founder Members), Marlene Keepin, and Roy Counsell a prospective Member who died suddenly on his first walk with us. Also during the year from our current membership we lost Kathleen Smith from the French Group, Colin Dancer and Gwyn Bevan from the Listening to Music Group, and Audrey Collins from Craft. They are all sadly missed.

I want to finish with a few words about our 20th Anniversary Celebration Concert held unexpectedly at the Dolman Theatre. I say "unexpectedly" as it was originally going to be in the big back room of the U3A, then it grew so we moved it to the Church, then it grew again, so moved to the Dolman. It was a very special day, with an audience of over 230 members. In the first half more than 50 members took to the stage and performed sketches, songs and poetry. They were all wonderful, but I must single out one person for a special mention - Greg Platt. He was our Compère and was so versatile; he told jokes, had a change of hat to go with each joke, moved the sets for the various acts, and generally held the whole show together.

We invited the Swansea U3A Ukulele Band to join our festivities and they gave a fantastic show, playing and singing tunes we all knew and loved. It was full of energy and they ended with the Second Welsh National Anthem - Delilah! It was an immensely enjoyable day and showcased the talent, versatility and hard work of our members.

Following their success at our Concert, the Swansea U3A Ukulele Band have been invited to perform at the Caerleon Arts Festival on Saturday the 12 July 2014

A special thought, we have a number of members battling cancer, going through treatment, recovering from operations and illness, we wish them all a good recovery and a speedy return to U3A.

I think that rounds off another busy year; it just leaves me to say Thank you to all the Convenors, the Members who cover the door rota and the kitchen, and the Committee Members who all give up their time to ensure our U3A continues to thrive and run smoothly. Also to thank all the members for the support you have given our U3A and me throughout the year.

All that's left now is to wish the new Chairman Pam Cocchiara and the new Committee every good wish for the coming year.

Jackie Kerr

May 2014