Dorridge U3A

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    General Meetings

    All General Meetings are held in Dorridge Village Hall, starting at 2pm, unless otherwise advised

    20th June 2024 – The joys and perils of being an author

    Presented by Colin Wade

    Get ready for a thrilling ride with bestselling crime and conspiracy novelist Colin Wade! With five heart-pounding novels already under his belt and another one on the way in 2024, Colin's books will keep you on the edge of your seat.  

    Drawing from his 13 years of experience in the police service, Colin crafts fast-paced, unputdownable thrillers that will leave you guessing until the very end. Not only that, but Colin's talks are always a hit as he shares amusing anecdotes from his time in the police service and takes you behind the scenes of his writing journey.  

    Learn how he became a writer, discover his influences, and discover which of his characters might be based on real-life people. Don't miss your chance to hear from this exciting author – visit for more information and to book him for your next event.

    Past Meetings

    6th June 2024 – A Guide Dog Story

    Presented by John Farley

    John Fairley is a retired Jaguar Land Rover Engineer and worked there for 27 years, prior to that he worked for British Coal and contractors as a coal miner.  He's been volunteering for Guide Dogs for just over 3 years as a Fundraiser, then taking up the collection box Co-ordinator role.   He is also a My Sighted Guide, and is now Branch Co-ordinator.

    The talk covers the history and story of Guide dogs;  Visual impairments;  Becoming a volunteer (and the different roles);  Puppy raising and My Sighted guide, as well as Meet the dogs (they will bring 2 or 3 dogs with them).

    16th May 2024 – Buying and selling at auction with stories from the Auction Room

    Presented by Steven Bruce

    This is an entertaining talk about the business with many humorous tales and anecdotes about the characters involved, whom to trust and why – and who and what to avoid. Stephen examines the costs of buying and selling at auction, how to choose the best auction house – and how to get the best bargains at auction. He also relates some of the humorous experiences he's had during his 50 years as an auctioneer and valuer working across the UK.

    His talk is illustrated with items that have been sold or about to be sold and will provide an insight to what is selling currently – e.g. silver, coins, pictures etc.

    Members can bring items along for discussion and valuation.

    2nd May 2024 – Southern Ocean Adventure

    Presented by David Muntzer

    Southern Ocean Adventure, or Geology and Wildlife of the Antarctic and the Islands of the Southern Ocean.  The talk describes travel via Argentina to the Antarctic, South Georgia, South Orkney Islands and Elephant Island. The origin, geology and wildlife of the region are illustrated by slides, with an informal commentary.

    David has lived in Dorridge for over 30 years.   In his working life he had a career with various organisations in industry before becoming a Tutor in Extra-Mural Departments in Universities of Warwick and Birmingham. 

    18th April 2024 – Jane Austen’s Warwickshire Family

    Presented by Sheila Woolf 

    Most people associate Jane Austen with Hampshire and the south of England, but her connection with Warwickshire was strong: her mother’s maiden name was Leigh. Examining her family in this region it is clear that she was deeply influenced by their stories in composing her novels.

     4th April 2024 – Mary Queen of Scots

    Presented by Gillian White

    Mary, Queen of Scots, became monarch at six days old and by the age of twenty-five had lost three kingdoms, three husbands and would never see her only child again. Whether she is to be seen as a murdering adulteress or the innocent victim of all that befalls her, Mary’s life is undoubtedly wrapped in tragedy. This talk explores her remarkable story and looks at the causes of the failure that led to her execution.

     21st March 2024 –  Elgar, the man and his music

    Presented by Richard Westwood-Brookes 

    Who exactly was Edward Elgar? He is far from what most people think he was and indeed  was as much of an enigma as his famous variations.

    This talk aims to challenge many of the generally accepted ideas about him, and his music - illustrated with many musical examples on the way - and delivered in a light hearted down-to-earth style, that all can enjoy.

    Richard Westwood-Brookes is an acknowledged expert on the music and life of Elgar, having written two biographies and articles about him.

    Richard is the resident expert at the Elgar Birthplace Museum near Worcester, where he regularly gives talks about Elgar and his music.

    7th March 2024 - Dorridge U3A Annual General Meeting and Group leaders Presentations

    15th February 2024– Editing the Shrewsbury Chronicle (the UK’s fourth oldest weekly paper)

    Presented by John Butterworth 

    I talk about the fascinating history of the Shrewsbury Chronicle where I was editor for 12 years. I tell of the eccentric stories and advertisements in this paper which started in 1772.

    1st February 2024 – Working for Aunty.  A Behind the scenes at the BBC as a graphic designer 

    Presented by Christine Green

    I was a graphic designer at the BBC for 13 years and worked on shows as diverse as the Queen’s Christmas Speech, ‘Our Friends in the North’ and ‘Foyles War’. I have numerous show reels, story boards and art works to show. I received several international awards for my work including a BAFTA nomination for my work on ‘Cambridge Spies’.

    18th January 2024 - A Nostalgic trip down the High Street - A Look at the History of Some Familiar Shops and Brands 

    Presented by Nigel Metcalfe

    Our local high streets and shopping habits have changed greatly over the last 20 years, yet some familiar names have a very long history. This talk explores the history and development of some well-known past and present high street chains such as WH Smith and Boots the Chemist, looks at some familiar brands such as Dents Gloves, Typhoo Tea, Omo washing powder and Spangles sweets. Several lost Birmingham department stores are described as is the 1970s-80s phenomenon of renting our tv sets. The talk explores the reasons why our high streets have so dramatically declined over the last decades, and makes some suggestions on how the future of our high streets can be secured. The talk is illustrated with vintage adverts and videos.  

    4th January 2024 - Forgotten Brummies - Part 2

    Presented by Les Williams

    In his talk this year, Les Williams will look at nineteenth and early twentieth century Birmingham, and highlight the contributions of significant individuals whose actions made a difference to the lives of Brummies.

    Thursday 21st December 2023 - Festive Christmas Songs and Carols

    Presented by Maggie Farmer

    Thursday 7th December 2023 - Christmas Quiz

    Hosted by Liz & Bob Mansell

    A team general knowledge quiz with teams of six, either form a team before you come or just turn up and join a team, it’s always great fun and you can meet new people,  plus there are liquid prizes for the winning teams!

    Thursday 30th November & Saturday 2nd December 2023

    It's Panto time again! 

    This year it is CINDERELLA and we look forward to seeing you at 2pm on Thursday 30th or Saturday 2nd December in Dorridge Village Hall for an afternoon of fun and laughter. The cast and backstage crew are working hard to entertain you. Please note the dates and put them in your diary. Tickets (which are £5 each or £2.50 for children on Saturday) will be on sale from Thursday afternoon 19th October at the General Meeting and from Bob Mansell.

    Thursday 16th November 2023 - "The Dog in my Medicine Cabinet"

    Presented by Geoff Lambert

    Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) have significantly expanded the use of dogs to support people with long term health conditions and pioneered the use of dogs in the detection of illness (especially) cancers in the early stage of development. Geoff’s talk will explain how all this works, how we can develop a dogs ability to sniff to support us all and detect the very early development of cancer, Parkinsons and UTI’s. You will wonder why we did not do this years ago but might decide that having a dog in your medicine cabinet could be a useful preventative measure.

    Thursday 2nd November 2023 - "Looking at Local Churches"

    Presented by Tim Bridges

    After studying history at Exeter & medieval studies at York Universities, Tim has worked at Worcester City Museums as Keeper of Archaeology and for the past twelve years as Collections Manager. His experience from the Museum includes contributing to a book which interprets the built heritage of Worcester, a major exhibition on the porcelain industry in the early 19th century, the promotion of Worcester’s post-medieval archaeology and buildings through collections and records, and more recently the day to day management of the beautiful 1896 Museum and Art Gallery building.

    Tim has a keen interest in the architectural history of Midland buildings, and churches in particular. He lectures and leads guided visits around local churches including those of the 19th and 20th centuries, and has published books on the churches of Worcestershire and the Black Country. He also serves on the Worcestershire & Dudley Historic Churches Trust, and the Worcester and Birmingham Diocesan Advisory Committees and, since March 2010, also works as Church Buildings Support Officer in Hereford Diocese.

    Thursday 19th October 2023 - "The Great American Songbook"

    Presented by Roger Browne

    The fascinating stories of Gershwin, Kern, Porter, Rodgers, Berlin, Carmichael, Fats Waller and beyond – and their wonderful music.  Should be a really entertaining afternoon.

    Thursday 5th October 2023 Most Secret – Defford Airfield and the Story of Airborne Radar” 

    Presented by Tim Barnie

    Most of us have heard of Bletchley Park – but from 1942 to the 1960’s, this quiet Worcestershire backwater was one of the most secret places in Britain, and carried out scientific work that was just as vital to the Allied war effort. Taking in an eighteenth century mansion and landscape park, a wartime airfield, and the early story of airborne radar and electronics development, this fascinating talk has something for everyone. The story concludes in the present day with a brief account of the National Trust property at Croome Park and the RAF Defford Museum, both of which are open to the public.

    Thursday 21st September 2023 A BEGINNING, A MUDDLE & AN END: Where do novelists get their ideas from?

    Presented by Bobbie Darbyshire

    In an entertaining, informative talk, Bobbie Darbyshire will explain how the complex world of character, location, plot and subplot arrives in a writer's mind. Winner of the 2008 fiction prize at the National Academy of Writing and the New Delta Review Creative Non-fiction Prize 2010, she is author of four novels, including "The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker", and has a fifth due out in October this year. Bobbie has worked as barmaid, mushroom picker, film extra, maths coach, cabinet minister's private secretary, care assistant and volunteer adult-literacy teacher, as well as in social research and government policy. Bobbie lives in London and hosts a writers' group.

    Thursday 7th September 2023 - The Rise & Fall of Worcestershire's Witley Court

    Presented by Ray Sturdy

    Witley Court, a spectacular Royal Palace was created by the Earls of Dudley before its untimely demise. The gardens, the church and the working Perseus and Andromeda fountains can still be visited.

    Thursday 17th August 2023 DR LIVINGSTONE, I PRESUME?

    Presented by acclaimed author and speaker Fran Sandham

    The story behind the legendary meeting in Africa in 1871 between the missing explorer Dr David Livingstone and the ambitious journalist Henry Morton Stanley. How their meeting proved to be the newspaper scoop of the century, bringing Stanley world fame and notoriety; the widespread controversy, hostility and personal ridicule Stanley faced on his return to Europe and America after finding Livingstone; why their meeting was such a sensational news story - and why Stanley's four words became the most famous greeting in history.

    Thursday 3rd August 2023 Mary’s meals, a charity which feeds 2 million a day worldwide

    Presented by Catherine & Robert Carr.

    Catherine and Robert have been sharing the Mary's Meals story for the last ten years.

    They first heard about Mary's Meals about 15 years ago and started then to support the charity through fund raising and sharing information. They find it particularly special to speak about the charity and to share their enthusiasm for the amazing vision that every child deserves a meal and an education thus giving them hope for the future.

    Mary's Meals was started 20 years ago by Magnus Mc Farlane Barrow in a shed at the bottom of his parent's garden - he still works from there today!

    The charity is now feeding almost 2 million children in 18 countries across the world.

    More information can be found at

    Thursday 20th July 2023 Sea shanties

    Presented by the Skinner family

    We have been a maritime nation for hundreds of years, relying on the sea for food, trade, transport and defence. It is therefore no surprise that our folk music (music of “ordinary” people) contains a huge amount which is linked to the sea and ships. With a bit of background research, these songs provide fascinating insights (not all of which are wholesome) into the history, lives and attitudes of our forebears. Many of them are intended to be easy to pick up, allowing strangers to work and relax together.

    Thursday 6th July 2023 - An audience with King Henry V111

    Presented and acted by John White

    ‘The year is 1544 and King Henry, the Eighth of that name, is engaged upon Royal Progress about his Realm; and has halted here to afford his Loyal Subjects the opportunity to have 'audience' with their Sovereign Lord and King.

    The King, recently married to his new, and sixth, wife, Queen Catherine Parr, is in poor health; his leg continues to cause him considerable pain and he is often in a poor humour!

    In the course of the 'audience', His Majesty will recount the events of his  long reign; telling of his wives and his children, and His Majesty will invite his Loyal Subjects to Petition him or question him on ANY related subject : there may be some surprising answers - a lively Q&A is assured!’

    Thursday 15th June 2023 - “Goose Grease and Brown Paper”, What we used in the pre NHS days

    Presented by Kath Reynolds

    Can we afford the doctor? Of course not! A fun trip down memory lane to pre-NHS days and the kitchen cupboard remedies inflicted by our nearest and dearest! Honey, salt, onions, mustard...not to forget the snails, urine, string and cow muck!

    Kath was born in Durham and moved to Stoke-on-Trent as a child and now lives in the Staffordshire Moorlands. She worked for many years for Staffordshire and then Stoke-on-Trent Libraries delivering services to the wider community and focusing on outreach and development work.

    The role allowed development of her passion for reminiscence work, both in delivering sessions and training others. For the last eight years of her career, she managed the Adult and Community Learning Service; before leaving in 2015 to focus on my reminiscence work. She has been reminiscing for more almost 30 years! 

    She is keenly interested in people; their lives and their communities, and her talks and reminiscences reflect a great many years of collecting stories, memories, and musings from the people of Staffordshire and surrounding counties.

    Although vigilant to research and verify "facts" as presented - although she does share stories that are clearly fiction... purely because they are so entertaining!

    Thursday 1st June 2023 Myanmar, land of temples

    Presented by Jill and Paul Wallace

    The talk is set in 2016, before the recent troubles in Myanmar began.  You will be taken on a river journey, starting, and ending in Yangon (Rangoon), along the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, visiting many local villages and temples along the way.   The talk covers images of local people, Burmese culture and fabulous temples, especially over the city of Bagan, and finally the ancient teak bridge at U Bein.  On returning to Yangon, the speakers will explore the magnificent Golden Temple at night.

    Thursday 18th May 2023 Dorridge U3A Annual General Meeting

    Thursday 4th May 2023 Winterbourne house and gardens

    Presented by Henrietta Lockhart

    Winterbourne was built in 1904 as a family home for the Nettlefold family, and in 1944 passed into the hands of the University of Birmingham. This talk will place Winterbourne in its context, and will explore its significance in the architectural, cultural, social and industrial history of Birmingham.  It will then trace the post-war history of the house and gardens and explain how it came to be the popular heritage site that it is today.

    Henrietta Lockhart has been the Curator of Winterbourne since 2016.  Previously she was Curator of History at Birmingham Museums Trust and led on the Birmingham history galleries project.  She has also served as Fine Art Consultant for the Colley Ison Gallery in Birmingham.  Henrietta enjoys giving talks on various subjects including Birmingham history and art history.

    Thursday 20th April 2023 Back stage stories from the Rep

    Presented by Dot, Emm and Angela Maloney

    A light-hearted, behind-the scenes look at some lesser-known incidents in and aspects of the REP’s history

    Dot visited Dorridge U3A before, in December 2017, presenting 'Christmas Plays At the REP'. This is a  further talk about people and productions that have graced both the Station Street and Centenary Square theatres.

    Both Dot and Angela spent their professional working lives in education and, like Emm, joined the REP when volunteers were called for to help mark the REP's Centenary in February 2013.  So, a number of us joined for one project and a core of us have never left!

    In addition to developing and delivering REP-related talks, they are involved in other activities such as Backstage Tours (again developed and delivered by volunteers) and Open Days.  Dot works extensively with the theatre's Creative Learning department and Angela acts as a project manager organising Open Days.

    Thursday 6th April 2023 - Worcester Cathedral

    Presented by Howard Robinson

    Howard Robinson was a Science Teacher for all his career but on retiring to live near Worcester became a guide at Worcester Cathedral in 2009.  Worcester Cathedral stands on the site of a Roman Foundry and dates from 1084 although there were earlier cathedrals there from the 7th century as part of a Benedictine Monastery.

    Like most cathedrals it has been rebuilt in various ways over the years and so has a mixture of several styles of architecture. It is famous for two royal burials, King John (1216) & Prince Arthur (1502), older brother of Henry VIII, amongst many other wonderful features ... to be shown/explained during the talk on this superb & most historic church building.

    Thursday 16th March 2023 - War of the worlds, the story of H G Wells novel.

    Presented by Andrew Lound.

    The very welcome return of Andrew Lound.  In 1898 H G Wells wrote a Romance of Science that became a watershed in literature. The story of an invasion from Mars shocked and thrilled Victorians. Wells did not realise that he had laid down the blueprint for a century of alien invasion stories with his own being reproduced in play, radio plays, movies and even records! Andrews dramatic presentation tells the history of the famous book and subsequent incarnations with video, slides, and audio, be prepared for an entertaining invasion afternoon.

    Thursday 2nd March 2023 - Keeping afloat. Presented by John Goodson.

    This is the story of a couple, John and Judy, and their dog who decided to manage their retirement by travelling around the country on their narrowboat.    Their illustrated talk covers the successes and failures experienced in the course of their journeys and the events that made the experience memorable. It also describes the various practical challenges of day-to-day life afloat that need to be resolved.

    Hear whether they would do it again!

    Thursday 16th February 2023 - Barrow to Baghdad. Presented by Phillip Caine

    Phillips career developed in the oil industry and 30 years were spent in places such as the North Sea, Algeria, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Russia. From 2003, he spent 7 years in post war Baghdad working with the American coalition and a further 3 years running oil services companies in Dubai. He retired in 2015 and began WRITING & PUBLIC SPEAKING, since then he has spoken at over 500 venues all over the UK and written 9 adventure thrillers.

    Thursday 2nd February 2023 - How the BBC proms get to your screen. Presented by Mark Kershaw

    The talk explains the history of promenade concerts and then follows the organisation of the televising of the Proms, from the original booking of the orchestra through the preparations and rehearsals up to the point that the concert happens. Mark directed a multitude of lifestyle programmes but specialised in live music productions.

    Friday 27th January 2023 - Return visit of Saqib Bhatti (CANCELLED due to non-availability)

    Following a fruitful and well attended meeting last October, our MP, Saqip Bhatti, is making a return visit, and will be in the Gateway Room at St Philips Church Centre on Friday 27th January at 2.00pm to discuss the Government's policy on climate change. Until recently, he was responsible for a number of matters relating to climate change and is well versed in the subject.

    Thursday 19th January 2023- A Day by the Sea, presented by Alan Hill

    A Day by the Sea - The Seaside Holiday Modern holidays for the masses are a product of the coming of the railways in the first half of the 19th century, before which “holidays” were very much the preserve of the leisured aristocracy, gentry and the very wealthy. This talk will trace the growth of holidays, and how they have changed to cater for the masses of ordinary working people.

    Thursday 5th January 2023 - Forgotten Brummies, presented by Les Williams

    Since retiring from the NHS six years ago, Les Williams became interested in the local history of his native Birmingham, initially through the blue plaques erected around the city to memorialise people who made important contributions to the development of life here. Having seen all these plaques, Les realised that he knew little about many of the people remembered in this way and set out to learn more about them. This became, by his own admission, something of an obsession, and in November 2021 led to the publication of his book 'Forgotten Brummies: the men and women who shaped today's Birmingham, who are now largely forgotten. 

    Thursday 15th December 2022 - Christmas Quiz

    Speaker: Bob Mansell

    Bob Mansell provides his popular Christmas quiz.

    Thursday 1st December 2022    Dorridge U3A panto (Oh yes it is!) - Dick Turpin rides again  [Admission charge]

    Dorridge U3A Panto Group present its first panto since 2019. All your favourite actors return to present their version of the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin. Please note there is an admission charge for this events - watch out for ticket details in the Autumn. There is an additional performance on Saturday 3rd December.

    Thursday 17th November 2022 - Festive concert

    Speaker - Maggy Farmer

    Local chanteuse Maggy Farmer returns to provide another of her festive concerts.

    Thursday 3rd November 2022 - Vale of Berkeley Railway - postponed from 21st July

    Speaker: Ian Raven

    The original Vale of Berkley Railway, which latterly crossed the Seven on a bridge as far as Lydney, came to an abrupt end during the night of Tue Oct 25th 1960, when in thick fog and on a high tide, two barges missed Sharpness Dock and hit the bridge resulting in 2 of the 22 bridge spans collapsing.

    Ian is publicity coordinator for the Vale of Berkeley Railway and last spoke to us in 2017. He returns to talk to us about recent developments and future plans of the Vale of Berkeley Railway. These include reopening the Sharpness branch line to passengers as a heritage railway tourist attraction; rebuilding some of the key structures that once adorned this historical joint GWR & LMS Severn & Wye Railway.

    Friday 21st October 2022 - Visit of Saqib Bhatti (St Philip's Church Centre)

    Our MP, Saqip Bhatti, will be in the Gateway Room at St Philips Church Centre on Friday 21st October at 11.30am to discuss the Government's policy on climate change. Until recently, he was responsible for a number of matters relating to climate change and is well versed in the subject.

    Capacity is limited so if you would like to attend, please email Caroline Egan by clicking here

    Thursday 20th October - Mark Francis - a sewing odyssey [The 2022 Louisa Jakeman memorial lecture]

    Mark Francis has had a life-long interest in sewing. His grandparents, being from the make-do-and-mend generation, were excellent amateur sewers and owned an ancient treadle powered Singer sewing machine, which he found mesmerizing as a child. He and his younger sister would play with it endlessly, but they had no idea how to sew on it. Over the years he indulged his creative side by playing various instruments, painting, and drawing, singing, and acting and learning to tap dance, but the desire to learn how to sew never left him. Many years passed until he had the confidence to finally learn how to use a sewing machine. In 2019, his husband Clive applied for him to enter the Great British Sewing Bee, and his life hasn’t been the same since. 

    Thursday 6th October - Blood Bikes

    Speaker: Martin Williams

    'Blood Bikes' is about the motor cyclists who transport lifesaving blood all over the UK.  It is understood that the speaker may be bringing one of his bikes along too.

    Thursday 15th September - Wildlife Ways

    Speaker - Danny Hodson

    Wildlife Ways is a £16.8M ERDF funded programme of works to make Solihull greener by opening up and improving existing routes, so allowing wildlife to flourish.  The project will also help encourage more people to walk and cycle across the borough. It will improve 69km of existing footpath and cycle networks. There will be 23km of new footways and improved access for cyclists. The routes will be landscaped and link, where possible, existing green spaces and offer sustainable transport options.  The project will improve the habitat value of 56 hectares of parks and open spaces for the benefit of people and wildlife – more than 90 football pitches!

    Danny Hodson is a chartered landscape architect with over 20 years’ experience across a wide range of services and projects with varying scales, complexities, clients, team cultures and working environments, in both the public and private sectors. Danny began working for Solihull MBC in January 2018 as a landscape architect and later as the Project Manager for the landscape and biodiversity element of the ERDF Wildlife Ways (Greening the Grey) Project. He works closely with SMBC Transport and Highways in delivering the wider project aspirations. 

    Thursday 1st September - The history of Stourbridge glass

    Speaker - Kate Round

    Kate Round is a glass historian, outreach worker and museum guide at Stourbridge’s world famous Red House Glass Cone. Kate will talk about the four hundred year history of glassmaking in Stourbridge.

    Thursday 18th August - Sir Herbert Austin

    Speaker - Charlie Plain-Jones

    Charlie is a vintage car enthusiast, and an active member of the Austin Seven Clubs' Association. He will talk about the life of Herbert Austin; automobile designer, founder of the Austin motor company and MP for King's Norton from 1918-1924.

    Thursday 4th August - The little maids and the wandering butler

    Speaker - Jill Kashi

    Jill has been a volunteer room and tour guide at Baddesley Clinton for ten years and was a founder member of the research group. She has researched the owners of the house and contributed to publications and exhibitions. However, the servants are her great interest, and she really loves sharing their stories from the early 19th century up to 1980. She is also now researching another little-known group: the women of Baddesley Clinton

    Thursday 7th July - The chateaux of the Loire

    Speaker: John Alderson

    John Alderson was born and educated in Burnley. He trained and qualified as an architect at Leeds School of Architecture. He spent the majority of his working life in Birmingham, finally as Senior Partner with Leonard Multon and Partners, opening offices in Nottingham, Aberdeen and Hong Kong; the Practice specialising in hospital and medical related design. He joined Arden U3A in 2010 and is currently on his second spell as Chairman.  

    Thursday 16th June - Birmingham Airport

    Speaker: Andy Holding

    Andy joined Birmingham Airport Limited in 1994. His role incorporates all of the Airport’s community engagement activities including formal consultation through the Airport Consultative Committee, the administration of its Community Trust Fund which makes grants to local community groups (including in the Dorridge area), and its work with education. He also works closely with colleagues in the environment team on matters such as aircraft noise, airspace change and other community impacts. Accordingly he is very well pace to provide some insights into the current issues surrounding airport operations! 

    Thursday 19th May - Annual General Meeting

    Chair: Bob Mansell

    Thursday 5th May - The jungle is neutral 

    Speaker: Melvyn Prior

    Melvyn Pryer returns to give us another of his travel based talks. He will talk about his experiences working with students to design a jungle heritage trail in Malaysia to commemorate a World War 2 UK soldier who few have heard of.

    Thursday 21st April - Amy, wonderful Amy' - the life of Amy Johnson 

    Speaker: Roy Smart

    A welcome return visit from Roy Smart who, following on from his talk about unknown aviation pioneer Percy Pilcher, will explore the life of the rather more famous aviatrix Amy Johnson.

    Thursday 7th April - Caravaggio, painter extraordinaire, a flawed genius and ..... a murderer!

    Speaker:  Keith Bonser

    Keith was a teacher and senior manager in education for 38 years. Retirement in 2008 gave him the opportunity to pursue a specific interest that has its origins in 1995. A weekend break in Dublin introduced him to Caravaggio, completely by chance; life has never been quite the same since. Retirement also enabled him to travel extensively, and embrace the frustrating sport of golf, which he now plays as often as he is allowed to!

    Thursday 17th March - My Life as a Micro Artist

    Speaker:  Graham Short

    Known as "The Hands of Genius" for his miniature masterpieces, Graham Short has spent over 50 years going to physical and mental extremes to produce the highest-quality engravings ever seen. His client list has included Buckingham Palace, House of Commons, Chanel, Yves St Laurent, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Goldman Sachs, Barings, Warburgs and many more prestigious companies

    Thursday 3rd March - The Millennium Way circular walks

    Speaker:  Barry Durman

    The Millennium Way is a 100 mile long long distance path, part of which is familiar to many of us as it passes through Hockley Heath, the Packwood Estate, passing the Black Boy and on though Temple Balsall.   Barry has been Chairman of Millennium Way since 2018. He was previously National President of the 41 Club, under which umbrella the Millennium Way operates. He is also a member of Solihull Ramblers. 

    Thursday 17th February -  Transatlantic liners

    Speaker:  Nigel Metcalfe

    The thirty years between 1910 and 1940 saw the golden age of the transatlantic liner. Speed, elegance and style marked the ships of that period. This talk looks at various aspects of both the ships and the companies that owned them. Promotion, shipbuilding, design and fashion of famous liners such as the Aquitania, Queens Mary & Elizabeth and the Normandie are described as well as the role of famous shipping lines such as Cunard and White Star. The talk concludes with a look at the role of liners as troopships in World War II and the demise of the transatlantic trade in the 1960s.

    Thursday 3rd February - Brueton!!!

    Speaker:  Pam Eyres

    Pam Eyres explores the little known life of Horace Joyner Brueton (1882-1950), who had owned Malvern Hall and was a councillor on Warwickshire County Council.   Pam is a former member of the Arden U3A and spent 11 years running the Local History Group there - during which time she gave many talks. As most subjects seemed to have been covered over the years by not only the Local History Group, but the Core Group too, Pam went on to try and find more unusual, interesting subjects - and this is one of them.

    Thursday 20th January 2022, 2pm - "THE LASCIVIOUS PLEASING OF A LUTE”  (Shakespeare)

    Speaker:  fellow member Mike Ashley

    Thursday 6th January 2022, 2pm - John Snow, the father of epidemiology, and the story of the Broad Street pump

    Speaker: David Moore

    John Snow (15 March 1813 – 16 June 1858) was an English physician who is considered one of the founders of modern  epidemiology, in part because of his work in tracing the source of a cholera outbreak in London in 1854.

    Thursday 16th December 2021 - Festive Quiz

    Speaker: Bob Mansell

    Our very own Chairman with his usual end of year quizz

    Thursday 2nd December - A talk with song

    Speaker: Maggy Farmer

    A welcome return of local singer Maggy Farmer who was last with us in December 2019. She has performed with symphony orchestras, swing bands, her own rock group, in a duo and on her own; enjoying the variety of music these opportunities have offered her

    Wednesday 24th November - Gardens of the Italian Renaissance

    Speaker: Adrian James

    Adrian has been photographing gardens and plants on a freelance basis for many years. With interests in garden history and in that rather esoteric topic of what gardens are actually for, combined with a strong sense of connection to these spaces, he also uses his images in a range of garden talks which feature gardens from many parts the world and where possible using gardens that people may not know well.

    Based in the picturesque village of Offenham near Evesham in Worcestershire, with his other hat on he is the under-gardener at Langdale Garden, which he and his wife Sheila open under the National Garden Scheme and to groups to raise money for national & local charities and good causes.

    Thursday 18th November - Only fools and filters - a journey to Iran in 1978

    Speaker: Melvyn Pryer

    Melvyn is a seasoned traveller and has been lecturing on tourism for over 30 years. He will talk on his experiences of budget travelling to and around Iran and escaping the Iranian Revolution, whilst giving some perspective on how and why Iran is as it is today.

    Thursday 4th November - Another Icarus - the rise and fall of Percy Pilcher

    Speaker: Roy Smart

    Roy will tell us the tale of aviation pioneer Percy Sinclair Pilcher and his wonderful sister, Ella, whose noble quest for flight ended tragically at Stanford Hall, on the banks of Shakespeare’s Avon. He was the first Englishman to die in the cause of “the conquest of the air” when on the cusp of becoming the most famous name in aviation history

    Wednesday 27th October - The Mughl Empire

    Speaker: Ron Gallivan

    Ron is a regular speaker and last gave a talk to us in September 2019. Ron is a retired Training Manager for an International Aerospace Company and the current Chairman of the thriving Redditch Military History Society.

    Thursday 14th October - My life as an MP

    Speaker: Saqib Bhatti

    Saqib Bhatti is the currently elected MP for our own constituency Meriden. He was elected in the December 2019 General Election as a replacement for Caroline Spelman.


    Thursday 7th October - My life as a Calendar Girl (Louisa Jakeman Memorial Lecture)

    Speaker: Tricia Stewart

    Tricia was one of the original calendar girls. In the film version Helen Mirren modelled her character Chris on Tricia.

    Thursday 16th September - Mary Queen of Scots-the Captive Queen in England 1568-87

    Speaker: David Templeman

    David is an Elizabethan historian and author and who gives many talks to U3As and local history societies

    Followed by tthe AGM

    Thursday, 2nd September -  "Volcanoes: an introduction to their features, and a look at some of the world's examples"

    Speaker: Our own - Peter Band

    Peter Band has been a member of DU3A for some years and enjoys belonging to the Science Group and Short Mat Bowls.  He is also a member of a local Walking Club, Probus, Warwickshire Geology and Knowle Society. He also works as a  volunteer in the Park at Charlecote.
    Peter is Birmingham born and bred.  He graduated from Birmingham University in 1960 with a degree in Metallurgy and worked for 40 plus years in the Aluminium industry - in Lancashire, Birmingham and Oxfordshire plus several years in Canada (Quebec and Ontario). He and his late wife, Eira moved to Knowle in 1972 from Kenilworth. She was a school teacher at Bentley Heath School and at Meriden.

    The following meetings were held via Zoom

    Thursday 19th August - "Poisons for Medecine"

    A darkly humorous look at medicine in the 19th Century. The reign of Victoria saw the development of chemical medicine from medieval-style alchemy to modern pharmacy. Chemists lent their ingenuity to attempting to provide anything customers wanted. Some made fortunes, some made disastrous mistakes.

    Speaker: Graham Harrison

    Graham is a founding partner in Sun Jester, a family business that presents a range of informal and entertaining talks for groups of all interests. Their background is in history, music and museum education with clients such as English Heritage, The National Trust, The Royal Palaces, The Natural History and Foundling Museums in London.  
    Sun Jester’s aim is to enlighten, divert and amuse with a broad range of subjects as diverse as social history, medicine and music; all delivered with lightness and a touch of humour. 

    Thursday, 5th August -  "Tales from a dairy farmer's wife"

    Speaker: Jane Barnes

    From being a dairy farmers’ daughter, to meeting Mark at Young Farmers Club, to running her own dairy farm since 1992, whilst bringing up a family, life has never been dull for Jane. Her children Charlotte (named after a favourite cow) and Harry (bred to be the 4th generation dairy farmer) have not only provided great material but also enlightened her life as a farmer's wife and therefore, her tales too. She has been a prolific speaker to groups and clubs for two decades.

    Thursday, 15th July - "The hoarder next door"

    Speaker: Steven Bruce

    Steven started his career when he was 18 and has worked all over the United Kingdom including a few years in Scotland. After owning his own auction room and acting as managing partner of a well known midlands firm of auctioneers and valuers he now acts as a consultant and agent.
    Steven is now  in his 53rd year as an auctioneer and has many unique and interesting stories to tell. He is a very active and well known speaker in the midlands, and  has been involved in raising funds for many charities He also undertakes valuations for insurance and probate and acts for religious organisations and the regular and Territorial Amy in assisting them in valuations.

    Thursday, 1st July  -  "Vitamin G"

    Speaker: Our own - Roger Williams

    You will be taken down the garden path and it is hoped that whether as a horticulturist or just someone who loves beauty you will glean something new and may be a little surprised. You may also have a better idea as to what the “G” stands for".

    Thursday, 17th June  -  "Living the African Dream"

    Speaker:  Aison Mees

    Alison had a passion for wildlife and photography. She had a strong desire to be in Africa, especially with cheetahs. Over 16 years ago she arrived in South Luangwa, Zambia undertaking various roles in hospitality, and after a lot of hard study, a dream came true and she became a qualified safari guide.

    Alison then worked in Serengeti, Tanzania, where her passion for photography and wildlife continued to grow. She was fortunate to spend time with the researchers from the Serengeti Cheetah Project where her knowledge developed in learning about individual cheetahs, their behaviour, how to identify individuals and photograph them.

    For 3½years, Alison worked in Mara North Conservancy, Kenya where she found time to continue observing cheetahs and supporting the researchers with data and photographs. She also dedicated time working with the local Masai Community with education and health related projects and since April 2020 Alison has been working as a volunteer for the Cheetah Conservation Fund UK on various projects including fund-raising, where her love for cheetahs continues.

    Wednesday, 9th June  -  "Writing for Other Comedians".  

    The Speaker is Brad Ashton, a comic writer who has written for most of our top comedians. In the second of his talks, Brad will tell us how comedy writers get their ideas and adapt them for specific comedians.

    Thursday, 20th May  -  "California Dreaming"

    From San Francisco to Grand Canyon via Route 66: an illustrated road trip with a twist.

    The speaker is Neil Sadler. 

    Neil trained as a school teacher and worked on the Isle of Man before returning to England for a very brief spell as a civil servant based in Bristol. In 1978 he decided that an office-based job was not for him and he joined Sussex Police.

    He spent much of his 30 years’ service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi ... he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

    Following retirement in 2008, he now offers his talks to groups and organisations throughout Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, and South London.