More than 650 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 over 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 – 2017’s subjects included Einstein, avant-garde art, and military 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 Mary Rose and Portsmouth harbour, and the Royal Albert Hall.
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 and its Giacometti exhibition; 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.
There are also residential trips both in this country and abroad arranged at affordable prices for Dorking U3A members. In 2017, members spent a week in the Austrian Lake District and a party visited the historic castles, houses and gardens of North Wales in the spring.