Crewkerne & District U3A is preparing to celebrate its 20th birthday in June, with an exhibition at the Victoria Hall, to be officially opened by the town’s Mayor, Councillor Robin Pailthorpe. All special interest groups that run under the auspices of the U3A are being asked to submit material for the display in the hall on Saturday June 17th. Chair of Crewkerne U3A Anne Bright said: “It should be fantastic. We intend to make it something to be proud of, to celebrate our achievements over the past 20 years. Although I am a comparatively new member, it is my privilege to serve this group which does so much for its members and for the town.”

Anne belongs to many of Crewkerne U3As’ groups and leads the walking football. The day-long exhibition in Victoria Hall will feature a show of singing, dancing and poetry, photographs and a special edition of the U3A magazine. Crewkerne & District U3A started in 1997. One of the founding members Leslye Stansfield who now runs the folk dancing group said: “I had seen posters written in crayon around the town and neighbouring villages, so I went along with some of my neighbours because I was intrigued to find out what it was all about. There were 45 people at the first meeting and it was a resounding instant success.”

Crewkerne & District U3A now has 360 members and groups that cater for a wide range of interests, from film-making and local history to philosophy and wine appreciation. 11 people who went to its first meeting and helped to set up the local U3A are still members. Meetings were originally held in the old sports pavilion (now demolished) on the Henhayes Recreation Field. U3A member John Ashworth, who was chairman for the first two years said: “People gave great support and encouragement to the idea and it has gone from strength to strength since then. I think the U3A has been very successful indeed.” John and the late Joan Morris, who became the first secretary and helped to make the dream come true, were originally members of Yeovil U3A.

Val Warren, who joined in 1997 when she was asked to lead a rambling group said: “I have made lots of new friends and become involved in many new interests. Because it offers so much, I think it has been tremendously good for the town.” Val continues to lead the geology group, which she set up in 2004 and represents Crewkerne & District U3A on the Avalon network of U3As.

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