Surprise in store for new member of town’s U3A

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Wetherby & District U3A celebrated a very special occasion at the January Open Meeting.

Much to his surprise, Ron Meadowcroft was presented with a bottle of Champagne, and a certificate by the Mayor of Wetherby, Coun Harry Chapman for being the 1,000th member of Wetherby & District U3A.

His wife Rosemary received a bouquet of flowers because it could have so easily been her, it just depended on whose name came first.

Ron responded with a beautiful speech, accepting the gifts on behalf of all the other members.

He said: “Rosemary and I moved to the district last February to be near family and having been members of Aylesbury Vale U3A for over ten years decided to seek out a lively U3A and have therefore joined Wetherby.

“I was very surprised to be awarded a certificate for being the 1,000th member and because we both know the hard work that goes in to running a U3A, I accepted the award on behalf of all the members.

“Having been quite active members over the years in Aylesbury in a wide variety of groups we hope to be able to join new groups here.”

Chatting with Ron and Rosemary later over a cup of tea and a biscuit, it became apparent that they had been looking around the local area for a few months for an active and lively U3A organisation and alighted on Wetherby as being exactly what they wanted.

He never dreamt, that by clicking on his ‘mouse’ as he sat at his computer, he would become so well known!

The presentation to Ron and Rosemary was followed by a delightful talk by Ken Humphries, giving us the history and musical successes of Rodgers and Hammerstein. We had music, singing and memories.

Ken is a former member of the York Light Opera and extremely knowledgeable about musical theatre.

He was able to give us details of former musical partnerships going back to the beginning of musicals as we know them today.

Showboat, written and staged in New York in 1927, written by Jerome Kern and with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, brought to an end the previous form of light entertainment, trivial and unrealistic musicals known as ‘operettas’.

Hammerstein continued to write with Lorenz Hart, who apparently was an extremely difficult man, not in good health and by the 1940’s was hospitalised.

When Rodgers talked to Hart about a potential musical, he was told to go and find someone else to write with.

He firstly approached Ira Gershwin who refused. He then contacted Richard Rodgers whose work he had long admired and together they wrote and produced Oklahoma in 1943.

There followed a string of successful musicals produced for the theatre which went on to become successful films through the 40’s and 50’s.

They were unusually popular and very novel, as someone always got killed. They were about life and death, good times and bad.

The most famous of all, The Sound of Music, brought fame not only to the actors involved but to the whole town of Salzburg.

Ken played various pieces of music and encouraged us to guess who was singing a particular song.

He then divulged the information that it was commonplace to engage someone else to dub the singing in a film, for the more well-known actor.

My hopes and dreams were dashed when I discovered that Rossana Brazzi did not sing the lead role of Emile De Becque in South Pacific, and Howard Keel’s real name was Harold Leek.

It was a fun afternoon, one of the regular monthly Wetherby & District U3A Open Meetings.

If’ you would like to enjoy further meetings, the next Open Meeting for members and guests is at the Methodist Church, Bank Street, Wetherby from 2.30-4pm – a talk by Geoff Twentyman called ‘Wanderings in West Yorkshire’.

Since April 2010, when Wetherby & District U3A was launched, it has attracted over 1,000 members from an area that includes Wetherby, Boston Spa, Clifford, Collingham, Spofforth, East Keswick, Follifoot and other local villages - as well as members from the York, Leeds, Knaresborough and Harrogate areas.