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Causeway U3A

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National U3A

Growth

A series of planning meetings in Laslett’s rooms in Trinity College led to an experimental Easter School at St John’s College, Cambridge in March 1982; and this in turn led to the creation of the first U3A, in Cambridge. It also produced a national committee. In October 1983, the U3A’s national organisation was registered as a charity called The Third Age Trust. By then, eight U3As were officially registered with the national office, and 15 more registered between October 1983 and October 1984.

In 1995 the Gulbenkian Foundation provided £10,000 for development in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where U3A penetration was not great. There were 15 U3As in Wales with a total membership of 1800. Scotland had seven U3As with a total of just 500 members. In Northern Ireland there was only the 300-strong Foyle U3A in Londonderry, and the Gulbenkian money helped Foyle to get others off the ground.

Despite some controversies over the years, U3A has continued to grow and in 2011 there were 782 local U3As with Kathy Venus of Oldham U3A becoming the 250,000th member.

The Third Age Trust

The Third Age Trust is the national representative body for U3As in the UK. It is both a limited company and a registered charity. It underpins the work of local U3As by providing educational and administrative support to their management committees and to individual members and assists in the development of new U3As across the UK. It is managed by a National Executive Committee which consists of a Chairman, 4 other Officers and 13 representatives from designated areas in the UK. The Third Age Trust is funded mainly by annual subscriptions paid by member U3As on a per capita basis, with the occasional grant for specific projects. It has 3 full time and 5 part time staff and is located in Bromley.