Latest news from Berwick Probus Club

Learning with fun is one of the concepts which has made U3A, University of the Third Age, into a steadily expanding organisation. It has 986 branches, with more than 360,000 members, and interest continues to flourish.

Friday, 4th March 2016, 12:00 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 9:07 am

Berwick, with its base in St Aidan’s Hall, is part of the Northumbria region and is moving forward all the time.

Its history was described in a very interesting talk by one of its key members Mr John Leiper to Berwick Probus Club.

He told the club that U3A’s capitation fee of £3.50 a head was “frankly ludicrous” for the service provided.

Founded in 1872 in Toulouse to meet a need for lifelong learning, it was expanded to Britain where it was felt anyone could join. The teachers were the members. They did not have paid tutors.

Mr Leiper emphasised the great importance of their many interest groups. They were the bedrock, and even if only the members shared an interest they could set up a group.

He also described the work of the U3A Trust, a registered charity with a national executive officer and a centre in Bromley.

There was no age limit, and no qualifications were needed or gained. The Northumbria region has 10,000 members and is also increasing membership.

Self-help was an important factor in its work. Mr Leiper said the U3A was strong in Berwick, covering a wide range of topics.

l Improving sanitation, encouraging sustainability and working with the local community in developing Tanzania has been a rewarding experience for Cambridge University graduate Martha Stokes.

Guest speaker at Berwick Probus Club, she explained how she had joined the Cambridge Engineering Project in 2015, helping to improve life in a small village falling behind in the development process. The team installed a simplified sewerage system and built toilets as the first stage, and immediately brought about an improvement in health. Disease problems were tackled.

Martha also explained the work the team put into the introduction of a Biogas project, which provided fuel.

It was vital throughout their stay to work with the local community and to have it on their side. It was a venture which also enabled them to learn lessons that will benefit their future.

She said Tanzania was one of the most stable and friendly African countries.

Secretary George Martin reported there would be a club visit to RAF Boulmer in April.