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It is a privilege – and a pleasure – for me to be the latest Chairman of Ferndown U3A to stand up on this sort of occasion and say   Well Done – and Thank You.

There have been 12 Fu3a Chairmen so far.  The first of them was Angela Dennett, who we hoped would be able to be with us here today.  Sadly, she is not well, but she has sent this message of congratulation:

I am sorry that I can’t be with you today, but I was so pleased to hear that Ferndown U3A is flourishing.

In 1997 I was a member of Bournemouth U3A, and we were being encouraged to set up new U3As and ‘spread the word’.  My daughter knew the young lady who ran the Ferndown Youth Club, and when she said the premises were only used in the evenings it seemed too good a chance to miss.  So, we stood in the Ferndown pedestrian precinct handing out leaflets offering a new U3A. 

I think there were about 20 people at the first meeting, and they were all very enthusiastic about the idea.  From that first meeting our numbers grew weekly, and many offers came from people willing to join in.  I led a group called ‘Discovering Ancient Egypt’, and my daughter ran a very successful group studying Shakespeare. Very soon we had a debating society, dance groups, bridge, of course, and many more.  I have many happy memories of those early years.

How Ferndown U3A has grown since that time!

Long may you continue to bring pleasure and learning to all third agers.


Ferndown u3a is acknowledged to be one the most successful U3As in the area.  Why should this be?  I think there are three reasons:

1. CONTINUITY:  Fu3a members make a long-term commitment

Think for a moment about your membership number, which was allocated sequentially according to the date you joined.  108 people  – around 20% of our membership –  have three-digit membership numbers, which shows they joined around 10 years ago.  They are still here.   (I should add that one member’s number has only two digits.  This deserves pride of place – especially as that member only stood down as a Group Leader this year…….)

So you should congratulate yourselves on your longevity……

2. COLLECTIVE ENDEAVOUR – we work together.  The most recent example is the Cascade of Poppies in front of you.  Some 80 members were involved.  Congratulations to Anne Hutton for co-ordinating it all so successfully.  Well Done – and Thank You.

Our Charity of the Year raised over £3000 for the Fletcher Foundation last year…….  I’m anticipating something comparable for Lewis-Manning Hospice Care our current charity ( – so come back here on Friday morning to help us swell the coffers!……..).

3. RESILIENCE.  Over the years there have been real challenges which your support has helped us resolve.  The Covid pandemic is the obvious recent example –  but you stayed with us, and our membership numbers are fast returning to the level we achieved before Covid.

We continue this long tradition of planning the future as well as celebrating the past.  In January we shall start to invite offers to run Groups in 2023-24: and the other day I heard someone mention 2025…….

Richard Tucker’s ‘Memory Lane’ video presentation covered our first 25 years.  There was much there that will have prompted very happy memories, and I want to thank him personally for that.

For this event itself we must thank our Visits and Events group led by Richard, and I especially want to mention its other members, Jo Brearley and Angela Larcombe who co-ordinated the tea, and of course we must include our lovely ‘waitresses’ and others working behind the scenes.  You know who you are.

Finally, I thank you, our current members, for supporting us today.   In doing that, I am remembering all those who have gone before us, and established the firm foundation on which our current success is based.