A happy anniversary for a club where growing old is the new feeling younger

FELTING CLASS. . . Tutor Suzanne Woods (seated centre), with U3A members taking part in a Felting Class on Wednesday morning. From left are Peggy Johnston, Moya Moss-Bowpitt, Noreen McCurdy, Robin Luceareli and Mary Moloney.  DER0615MC033
FELTING CLASS. . . Tutor Suzanne Woods (seated centre), with U3A members taking part in a Felting Class on Wednesday morning. From left are Peggy Johnston, Moya Moss-Bowpitt, Noreen McCurdy, Robin Luceareli and Mary Moloney. DER0615MC033

Have you ever wanted to learn the ukulele? Maybe try some Portuguese, Calligraphy or maybe some Nordic walking.

It’s not the kind of thing you’d 
expect to see at a club for retired people - but at Derry’s University of the Third Age, growing old is the new getting young.

Roy Hamill, historian, giving a lecture on the area of Donegal Town at the U3A building, Gransha on Wednesday, before the group set off on their journey to the area. DER0615MC032

Roy Hamill, historian, giving a lecture on the area of Donegal Town at the U3A building, Gransha on Wednesday, before the group set off on their journey to the area. DER0615MC032

The club now boasts 816 members and is celebrating 25 years in existence.

“We were the first U3A to set up in Northern Ireland,” said Christine Smith, office manager. “We also are unique in that we own our own building. This allows us to offer a huge active ageing programme to retirees in the city and beyond.”

Each day at the Paschal McDonald House in the grounds of Gransha is a hub of activity.

Local history talks are taking place, a felt making class, courses in digital photography, cycling, book clubs, games clubs, music lessons, reflexology and keep fit.

Christine O'Kane, manager, Foyle U3A with office secretary Jem McCarter this week.  DER0615MC031

Christine O'Kane, manager, Foyle U3A with office secretary Jem McCarter this week. DER0615MC031

Or if you just want to sit down, have a cup of tea and a chat, there’ll be someone to talk to.

“The building was acquired by our founder members 25 years ago who originally met in Magee,” explained Christine. “They kept thinking it would be better if we had our own place. The building needed a lot of repair but the members came in and fixed it up. This was helped by a grant from the Community Foundation.”

Christine explained that many of the classes are given by members and volunteers while others are facilitated by lecturers from the North West Regional College.

“We have 816 members now, the most we’ve ever had. One of our members moved here from Brazil and she takes the Portuguese class. Another lady bought a ukulele, downloaded some tutorials from youtube and is teaching others how to play the ukulele now.

“Older people are younger now. They have younger expectations, when they finish work they don’t want to just stop. They say now is the time to enjoy everything. Some of our members have never learned a language or an instrument. Some of our members have never used a computer and they’re in learning to Skype their grandchildren.

“It’s really just about encouraging people to take that first step in the door.”

To celebrate the group’s Silver Anniversary, U3A are planning a year-long 
celebration with an event 
every month including
 a big quiz next month
 and a Percy French day in March

To find out more about U3A ring 71860123 or 
email u3a.foyle@btinternet.com