New faces join Third Age

Our curator Karen Southworth (left) recently attended a conference in Gdansk, Poland.
Our curator Karen Southworth (left) recently attended a conference in Gdansk, Poland.

It’s not always easy to persuade people they would like to give their time to an organisation, however, retiring from full time work does provide opportunities for people who still have time, skills, experience and energy to offer.

This month I met such a person. She classed herself as newly retired, and when she finished working looked around for some way to give something back to the community in which she lives. She has her health, a pension, experience in the world of education and a bundle of energy. It was purely by chance that the current Chair of the Wetherby & District U3A, Brian Taylor approached her to ask if she would be interested in joining the U3A Committee. She wasn’t aware that there was a vacancy and didn’t feel she was in the running for the job. She is a current member of the U3A, belonging to three groups, but hadn’t ever served as a Group Leader so didn’t see herself as taking on a role on Committee. She soon realised that she did have an idea of the workings of the U3A, mainly because she’s a good listener.

Sarah Goodwin has taken on the challenge of Groups Co-ordinator vacated by Delia Wells who has stepped down after many years in the role. I went along to meet her to get a sense of what drives her and what made her accept the challenge and opportunities presented by this role. Sarah has a very interesting background and seems to be relishing the thought of putting her energies into the U3A. She’s full of ideas and describes herself as a ‘volunteering’ sort of person. Since retiring she’s taken up roles within WISE (Wetherby in Support of the Elderly), started her own ‘Walking for Health’ Group for Wetherby, trained her own Group Walk leaders and encouraged and supported other groups to start in Tadcaster and Boston Spa. She recognised the value of regular walking in later years and the benefits this can have on health. The walks leave from the Methodist Church every Wednesday at 10am. Usually they last no more than an hour and a half, walk locally around Wetherby, and most of the time is spent chatting while walking.

A Yorkshire lass, born in Beverley, she went to University in Swansea and studied for her PGCE in Nottingham. On a teaching exchange programme in Australia she met her husband, a Yorkshireman who was on a similar programme. They returned to the UK to finish their studies and subsequently married in Australia. Finally settling in Leeds, Sarah began work at a school in Leeds where she stayed for 22 years in secondary education moving into Senior Management. She said her role was challenging in a school of 1,000 pupils as it included provision for Special Needs, Gifted and Talented children and added that once you’ve had to organise a class of 30 + adolescents several times a day you really do hone your organisational skills!

She feels she will be able to bring skills she acquired during her working life to her new role in the U3A, particularly those of listening, problem solving, logical thought and organisation. She said most teachers excel at organisational skills……mainly through necessity! Sarah plans to get to know more about the National U3A, reinstate the New Groups Information Board at the Open Meetings, encourage Group Leaders to let her know when they have space in their groups. She’s looking forward to putting names to faces at the Monthly Meetings and has ideas about how she can encourage and support other U3A members to volunteer their time, experience, skills and energy to the benefit of the individual and community.

If you would like to be more involved with the U3A, or have ideas for new groups or any ideas for Sarah please check out our website www.wetherbyu3a.org.uk; You’ll find all the information you need at the touch of a button. If you’re not au fait with the internet come along to the next Open Meeting and have a chat with Sarah.