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Time for a fresh start

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This is the time of year when people greet each other with a Happy New Year, but also talk in ways that give me hope for the future, writes Caroline Green of Wetherby U3a.

Phrases such as New Year, New You, New Beginning, Time of Opportunity, Fresh Start, New Start.

It is with optimism that we all start the New Year and endeavour to do more than last year, perhaps bid the sorrows of last year goodbye, but maybe also yearn to learn and try something new.

Sometimes it’s just about pushing ourselves that little bit further, stepping outside our comfort zone, making the effort to get a little fitter. In conversation with others, it seems we all feel the same as the New Year settles in.

I popped in to see some friends the other day and discovered that they have both recently given up full time work, and want to explore what is available locally. They had heard about the U3A but because they’d been involved with working full time hadn’t explored what it was all about and how they might access it. They both want to get fitter and are thinking about joining a walking group. I suggested that they come along to one of the U3A Open Meetings where they are sure to receive a warm welcome and discover the wide variety of groups available.

Christine Naylor who organises the Open Meetings, Alan Pengilley and Lesley Newnham who organise the New Members Meetings, and the committee who organise the AGM have the warm welcome down to a fine art. They see it as a vital part of the organisation.

At the most recent of the U3A meetings, the December Showcase organised by Christine and Alan, held at the Engine Shed in Wetherby, everyone was greeted and welcomed at the door. Glenys Pengilley, John and Judith Pentith are the members who keep the Register and ensure that everyone gets a smile and welcome on arrival. The Register serves two purposes; one is to record and acknowledge everyone who comes to the event, for insurance purposes, and the other is to identify people who may be arriving for the first time and ensure that these people are made welcome.

It can be very daunting to launch yourself into a new experience in later life, and if your personal circumstances have changed possibly, it can be even more difficult.

As a new arrival, you will be made to feel welcome and probably will have questions you’d like to have answered. At this point you’ll be steered towards one of the ‘Here to Help’ team, who are always hovering in the background at U3A events. The role of the ‘Here to Help’ team is to guide visitors and non-members to the Membership Secretary, or explain the system on arrival. It may be just to chat and answer questions, or introduce you to the Groups Co-ordinator, to enable you to see what’s on offer for members.

If you wish to stay for the Open Meeting, non-members are asked to pay £2. You are welcome to listen to the Speaker, have a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit. If after attending the Open Meeting, you express a wish to join the U3A, you will receive your initial £2 back. The other bonus about joining in January, or February for that matter, is that your membership fee will take you all the way through to March of the following year when membership fees are due for renewal. It sounds like a win-win situation - two-three months of free membership!

The Open Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month, and always at the Methodist Church Hall in Bank Street, Wetherby. This meeting may be an opportunity to meet and chat with the organiser of a group you could well be interested in joining. I like to think of the U3A as an opportunity waiting to happen, or as my Mother would have said, pushing at an open door. January 2018 is a good time to try something new, or build on a skill you haven’t quite mastered, or aim for that level of fitness you hope to aspire to.

You’ll be most welcome to come along to our next Open Meeting on Wednesday January 31 and discover Wetherby & District U3A or even check out the website at www.wetherbyu3a.org.uk