It is now four months since I took over as chairman of Dorking U3A, and what a busy time it has been.
Apart from attending committee meetings and starting to visit our 44 groups to meet members and find out what they do, I have also attended the national conference, held this year in Nottingham. It was a great chance to meet other U3A people and discover their ideas and ways of doing things.
I attended a variety of workshops and seminars and picked up plenty of tips that might help make our own U3A more varied and more fun. But one thing the national organisation recommended was that the new chairman might like to set out their proposals for what they would like to achieve during their period of office. So here are mine…
Firstly I would like to see our website grow and develop. Our webmaster Mike Docker has been working ceaselessly to make it more interesting, more user-friendly and more helpful for you, the members.
During my time as chairman I would like to see it become the first port of call for those interested in the U3A locally, with up-to-date news, lots more pictures and information about forthcoming events, details of groups and their leaders, information from committee meetings, national office paperwork and links to other useful sites.
We are looking into the possibility of paying for things via the website using PayPal, to save both you and us having to find and write cheques and send them in the post. You can already pay your subscription online, which has been a great success, so we would like to extend that facility.
Please make sure you visit the website regularly as information is changing every few days. When we can, we will introduce the opportunity for you to respond to the content with forums and discussions.
Next I would like to see an expanded social programme in Dorking U3A. Currently we have excellent days out trips, which are very well supported. During 2016 we are already offering a quiz night, a special afternoon tea and an evening dinner – all supported by you via our online poll.
I believe that this will offer another dimension to our activities, with a more informal atmosphere in which to chat and make new friends.
Other suggestions are for a Christmas gathering and a grand finale event for the end of our anniversary year. Details will follow as soon as plans develop.
Raising our profile
Lastly I want to raise the profile of the U3A in Dorking and the surrounding area. Many people I meet have never heard of the U3A or mistakenly believe that you need a degree to join.
We have already made a start on this with a stall at the recent Pippfest event and a programme of delivering U3A literature to libraries, community centres, pubs, shops and elsewhere.
During the next year we will be visible at a variety of events such as the Capel show and, hopefully, Westfest, giving out leaflets and explaining our organisation.
As part of this drive we will be setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts to share news immediately and make it quicker and easier to communicate with members who are now regular users of social media.
This is just a start. As I meet more of you and your group leaders I hope you can add to the ideas I have put forward to take Dorking U3A to a new era.