This past year has been a busy one for Dorking U3A. At the start of my time as chairman I gave three pledges: to improve our website so that people had more information, to introduce social events to the Dorking U3A calendar and to publicise the organisation more widely within the local area.
I am pleased to say that all three promises are currently being fulfilled and I hope that members are beginning to see the benefits.
Firstly we have concentrated on upgrading and improving our website. Thanks to the skill and effort of treasurer Mike Docker we have a brand new look to the site with constantly updated news and information. There is everything from reports of monthly meetings, to details of forthcoming study days to items from the national U3A. Please look at the superb pictures from our photographic group which are a real pleasure.
The vast majority of our members have access to the internet and they are now constantly kept updated about matters that might interest them.
Work continues on this as there are other improvements we would like to put in place such as payments via our website. We already offer this for subscription renewals but the committee is investigating other areas that might be of benefit to members.
My second pledge was to introduce social events which we were able to do as a result of the anniversary. Our first, and very successful one, was a quiz evening held at the Rialto restaurant in Dorking. The evening was sold out and everyone who attended enjoyed the quiz and the food. We plan to repeat it in November and hopefully to make it an annual event. We are still looking forward to our anniversary dinner at Betchworth Golf Club on 18 June.
Finally I wanted to get the name of the Dorking U3A more widely known in the area. Our improved website has made this easier for the casual browser who is looking for interest groups on the internet. We also distributed 1,000 leaflets and posters to a variety of organisations and individuals highlighting the work of the U3A. I have set up links with Age Concern in Dorking who are helping to promote us to people retiring or moving to the area. And we have submitted monthly reports to the Dorking Advertiser newspaper who have regularly printed our material.
Membership has grown steadily and we now have over 630 members. We have almost 50 interest groups with wine tasting, military history and archaeology among the latest to start. Our growing support means more income and this helps us to maintain healthy finances.
For my second year I would like to address the following issues. It has become apparent that some of our groups are nearing capacity. My belief is that the U3A should be open to all and I will be working with the committee and group leaders to make sure that anyone who wants to join us can do so.
I want to continue the work on the website so that it becomes established as the first port of call for both members and the public. We are currently giving the newsletter a new look so that it no longer contains out of date information and has a magazine look to it.
Thirdly we will be taking another look at our constitution so that it is updated where necessary and also in line with current national recommendations.
In conclusion it goes without saying that none of this would be possible without the hard work and commitment of the committee who work tirelessly to ensure that a programme of activities is offered to all our members. My thanks to all of them and I look forward to my second year working with them for a better U3A.