More than 600 people in Dorking and the surrounding villages are members of the thriving Dorking & District U3A – and more are joining all the time.
It began in March 1991, initially with 50 or so members, and it now operates almost 50 study and interest groups in such fields as art and architecture, current affairs, family history, a range of modern languages, literature, drama and poetry, singing, classical music and jazz, philosophy, photography and various leisure and health pursuits.
There are also monthly talks, usually by outside speakers. They’re held in the town’s Christian Centre and are on all kinds of topics. Also, once a month, local U3As together provide regional study days led by experts in their field – 2014’s subjects included folk music, Victorian novels, astronomy, and family history; and there are summer conferences at Chichester University and elsewhere on all kinds of topics.
A local subcommittee arranges monthly day excursions to interesting places, usually with a guide –members have visited the Second World War codebreaking establishment Bletchley Park, the BBC’s Broadcasting House, the medieval churches of Romney Marsh, and the 18th-century shipbuilding village Buckler’s Hard in the New Forest. Dorking members also join Bookham U3A for occasional trips to the theatre.
As well as the monthly excursions, individual study groups arrange their own outings to places of particular interest. Dorking’s Art Appreciation group, for example, went to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich to see its Turner and the Sea exhibition and the Tate Modern for The Cut-Outs of Henri Matisse; the Science group visited the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington and the Mullard Space Science Laboratories near Holmbury St Mary; and members of the Spanish Conversation group spent a week in northern Spain meeting their Spanish U3A counterparts, immersing themselves in the language and sampling the local culture.
The outings committee also arranges holidays at affordable prices for Dorking U3A members, both in this country and abroad. In 2014, members spent a week on the Croatian Riviera, visiting Dubrovnik and its surrounding attractions, and a U3A party enjoyed a trip to Scotland in the autumn.