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CHAIRMAN'S REPORT
December 2013

The last six months have continued to be very busy, during the summer break we organised a trip for 50 Members to visit Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) we all loved walking around the rooms and recognising them from the television series. The Castle also has an excellent Egyptian exhibition so we spent quite a time looking at all the exhibits. The weather was hot so we wandered around the beautiful gardens and had cream teas in the large marquee on the lawn. Also during the summer break we had our much anticipated annual visit to play bowls in Swansea, once again the weather was lovely, we are all getting quite competitive but we soon forgot about playing when Celia served up her usual fantastic buffet lunch.

Our Open Day in August was once again very successful, over 180 people came through the door, and 36 new members have joined our U3A since the start of our autumn term.

All our Groups are continuing to thrive, and as this Newsletter goes to print we are planning a new group "Spanish for absolute beginners", for more information please check the notice board in January.

September saw another trip of over 50 people visiting the Onion Fayre in Newent, everybody came home with bags full of Victoria plums, onions (of course), and all sorts of goodies on sale in the stalls throughout the village. It was the first time we had organised a trip to this event, but as it was so successful we plan to arrange another visit in 2014.

At the end of November, a trip was arranged to the Cadbury's garden Centre, the centre was decorated and stocked for Christmas, so many of us took the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.

We have continued to celebrate our 20th Anniversary year, the tree Barbara Phillips planted in BelleVue Park during the freezing weather of February sadly died, but I am pleased to report it has been replaced, and Barbara says the new tree looks very healthy.

To "round off" our special year we decided to hold a Celebration Concert, the original plan was to invite our Groups to take part by doing items of fun -something out of their comfort zone, and we would hold the concert in the back room at U3A. Pat Fackrell agreed to organise the acts, and within days over 50 members from different groups volunteered to take part, resulting in the back room being far too small, so we decided to move the concert into the Church. However over 170 Members said they would like to have tickets to see the concert -and as the Church only holds 120 people, at very short notice we moved the concert to the Dolman Theatre. Our performers were very apprehensive about appearing on a stage in front of so many people, but being real troupers they all agreed to take part. We agreed the first half would be reserved for performances by our groups, for the second half we would invite the Swansea U3A Ukulele Band to join our celebrations and entertain us .We finally issued over 230 tickets, and on the day all the performances were wonderful, Greg Platt was excellent as the Master of Ceremonies he filled in with jokes and changed to a different hat before introducing each act, it was a true variety show with sketches, comic acts, poetry and singing -our members have so much hidden talent.

The Swansea U3A Ukulele Band accepted our invitation, and following the break they entertained us with a wonderful repertoire of music, songs and jokes. The audience was enthralled and joined in the singing and clapping, at the end of their performance the band had a well deserved standing ovation with cries for more and more encores. We were delighted the Swansea U3A Ukulele Band agreed to be part of our Celebration Concert they were fantastic and were the "icing on the cake" for our Special day

On the final day before the Christmas break we held our Carol Service, six groups took part and did extremely well to learn and sing Carols in the language they are studying. Again this year Roger and Frances, soloists from the Church Choir, sang two beautiful duets, it is always a joy to sit and listen to them. It was the first year for the Reverend Richard Gillion to organise and conduct our service he gave a thoughtful, uplifting service with many of our members voicing their appreciation of his friendly and relaxed delivery.

As we end the year I would like to thank all our convenors for continuing to lead their groups, also to the convenors who have arranged day trips and holidays, the committee, the door rota and kitchen volunteers and Pam Ambrosen, the Editor of the Newsletter, for all their hard work and support during 2013. I wish you all a happy healthy and peaceful 2014.

Jackie Kerr
Chairman