Issue 95                 NEWSLETTER         January 2018

                    Ashton-in-Makerfield and District U3A


When attending a U3A meeting, and/or a Group activity, you are required to have in your possession your Membership card for the current year. If you have not re-registered by the end of the registration period on the 30th of June of each year you will not be able to attend our various U3A activities.

This does not mean that you cannot re-register after the 30th of June. When attending a Friday meeting after the 30th of June you must show your membership card at the reception desk and if your card is out of date you can re-register then and a new card and membership number will be given to you.

This may seem bureaucratic but it is important  because only valid members are covered by U3A Insurance when they are involved in group activities. It is for this reason that, when joining a group for the first time, the group leader will ask to see your card and record your membership number.

It is important to note that, for example, if a member signs up for a holiday that is due to take place after the end of the current U3A year but has not yet re-registered he or she will not be able to go on the holiday. This is because it would invalidate the conditions of the U3A Insurance of the holiday for all taking part.

Note – This does not apply when a holiday has been booked as a package directly with a tour operator and not as a U3A holiday. In this case the responsibility of obtaining insurance cover rests with the individual travelling and is either arranged separately by the individual or as a package by the tour operator.



5th January - Stuart Walsh – Volunteer at the 2012 Olympics.

2nd February - Sheila Walsh - A Tudor Lady.

2nd March - Marianne Howell - No Persons Here - Suffragettes.



The Group meets in the Ashton Library on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays in the month 11.00 am - 12.30 pm.

If you wish to speak to me, I can be contacted on 01942-201693.

Roy Moore


Our new venue is the meeting room in Ashton library on the first Thursday  in the month from 12.00 noon  to 1.30 pm.  New members will be most welcome.  Just come along and enjoy the fun!


The next  meeting of the group will be on the 25th of January at 1.30 pm in the Ashton Library.



The creative writing group has just brought out its second magazine, Our words.  This is one of the ways we showcase our work and it is motivation to carry on improving our writing while have fun doing what we enjoy doing in the process.  We meet on the third Friday of the month at 2-00 pm which gives us time to meet up at Captains Lane and have a coffee and a chat before heading off to the YMCA in Hilton Street where meetings are held.


The next meeting is on January 19 and we have room for a couple of new members if you would like to come along for a taster.


By the time you are reading this you will probably have seen us in action.  Playing Christmas Jambalaya at the Christmas party.  We’ve come a long way in those eight meetings to get to that point on the 15th December.  We’ve kept a positive attitude and stuck to our task of mastering those first few chords.

We’re already seeing that enthusiasm being rewarded as some of our number have told us of their plans to entertain their families with their new found skill.

Plus we have even written our own group song.  When I say we, I mean members of our group, who didn’t know how to hold a ukulele at the beginning but are now up there with the likes of Dylan and Lennon/MacCartney.

As we look to 2018 we have already got a booking for a spot in the March Lancashire meeting.  So it’s onwards and upwards for us.


Hi all, I hope that we are all looking forward to the Games in 2018. 
The meetings for January are the 3rd and 17th (first and third Wednesday) I look forward to seeing you then.   Ray Potter. 


Hi all, I hope we are all looking forward to the Kurling

in 2018. 

The meetings for January are the 10th and 24th (second and fourth Wednesday) I look forward to seeing you then.   Ray Potter.


We are a small group of amateur bakers who meet once a month in a member’s home to share a light lunch and a dessert or cake.  If you would like to know more please contact Anne Doyle or Pam Potter.


The Local History Groups will be meeting at 11.30am to 1.00pm on the 2nd and 3rd Mondays of each month at  Golborne  Library.  The  reason  for  this  change is because of revised Library opening and closing times.


Note:- The Group now meets on the third Thursday at Haydock Library from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon.

Happy New year everyone.

For our January meeting we are moving to a new venue at:- Haydock Library, Church Road, Haydock, WA11 1LY, with a new meeting time of 10.00am to 12.00am but still on the 3rd Thursday of the month.

Our project for the meeting will be “Past its best”

If any of our U3A members wish to learn more about photography or can offer any expertise, please come along and join us.




The German group meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month from 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm.

if you would like any further information please contact Bill, by phone or email, (contact details and times are on the back page) by phone or email


China's First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors.

A Group Visit has been provisionally booked to this Exhibition at the World Museum Liverpool on Tuesday 10 April 2018.

Apart from visiting China this may be your only opportunity of seeing these wonderful Figures. The final cost will depend on numbers but would hopefully be no more than £25 including group entry and coach to and from Liverpool.

To secure your place please let me have a non refundable deposit of £5, preferably by Cheque.

For further details please contact me John Gostelow (contact details and times are on the back page).


Holiday to Ireland June 2018.

A holiday has been arranged with Discovery Travel to Ireland in June 2018. Please see me for further details.        

John Gostelow, Group Leader.

Tiffany’s Blackpool / Christmas Dinner.

Following a pleasant drive, we reached the Hotel, which was situated right on the promenade.  On arrival we were given a nice glass of bubbly.

The restaurant was nicely decorated; we enjoyed a lovely three course Christmas dinner followed by coffee and mints.

When we returned to the cabaret suite, there was a DJ playing music, followed by a few games of Bingo. Josie Bretherton led the singing of Jingle Bells. The cabaret singer Heather soon had everyone up on the floor dancing to Abba, Tina Turner, Shania Twain and many others.       Mary Davies, Group Leader.


Christmas comes but once a year, a time for music and laughter.  Even we Ashton-in-Makerfield U3A singers are allowed to sing out loud with gusto, if anyone has any complaints about our singing, please keep them to yourself bearing in mind at least we only get brought out once or twice a year.

But we singers at least enjoyed our U3A Carol Concert on 1st December when leading the Christmas Songs and Carols. We are all looking forward to singing on Friday 15th.

Not a lot of people know this BUT actual singing together in a Group has umpteen health benefits.  Naming a few: - Aerobic activity.  Natural stress reducer. Keeps heart healthy.  Feel good hormones released called endorphins that rush around the body and in the brain.  More oxygen released into the blood, better circulation. Most people know that laughter is the best medicine.

Sorry, cannot say what benefits, if any, our singing out loud are to non-singers.  Perhaps we cause more stress, upset nervous systems maybe we highjack hearing aids. I wonder.

In future our group may even change its name to “Laughter Clinic”.  With this in mind our Musical Surgery will re-commence on FRIDAY 12TH JANUARY 2018 – 1.00 pm Captains Lane.

We are fortunate to have Ian and Stephen, two talented musicians, as members of the group who greatly enhance our singing. There is always room for more singers; don’t worry if you think you can’t sing, the rest of the non-singers will happily drown you out.

Finally a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – not forgetting your Health is Your Wealth.  An addition to this is – MAY YOU NEVER LOSE YOUR SPARKLE.      

Cheers Josie.                                                     


Reading Group 1 November Meeting

The wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys provoked lively and wide-ranging discussion at our November meeting.  We found the novel to be interesting, challenging and thought-provoking rather than being positively enjoyable; the subject matter is too dark and the atmosphere of the story too relentlessly oppressive for that.

 In “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte, Bertha, Rochester’s “mad wife in the attic”, is not portrayed as a person, rather, she is a shadowy, malign inconvenience in Jane and Rochester’s story. In “The Wide Sargasso Sea”, Rhys imagines a back-story for her.  In a mere 125 pages of densely-written narrative the complex set of factors leading to West Indies-born, Antoinette Cosway’s mental collapse and incarceration as Bertha Rochester in an upper room at Thornfield Hall is explored.  Some of those factors are readily accessible as common human experience whilst others relating to the legacy of the recent (the novel is set in the 1840s) emancipation of the slaves and the cultural influences of the various colonial powers in the West Indies are less so.  

The Penguin Annotated Edition provided helpful guidance to those aspects though the numbered annotations throughout the text, whilst illuminating, proved somewhat intrusive.  

A back-story is also provided for Rochester in which he emerges as both a victim of his family’s financial designs and, despite his misgivings, having married Antoinette, as the most significant influence in her (or Bertha’s, as he insists on re-naming her) descent into mental illness.  The Rochester portrayed here is a far cry from Bronte’s romantic hero.

In conclusion, we found this a fascinating novel to analyse and discuss but hardly one we could recommend as a light, relaxing read.

Reading Group 1 December Meeting

While readers had a five-year wait for David Nicholls to write a follow-up novel in the wake of the phenomenal success of his “One Day”, the reaction of Reading Group 1 to, “Us”, published in 2014, suggests patience was rewarded. What “Starter for Ten” did for student life and “One Day” for graduation and its aftermath, “Us” does for marriage, parenthood and middle-age.  

Douglas, a rather staid, self-deprecating scientist is married to more intuitive, artistic Connie and after more than twenty years together, their marriage is in trouble.  Unnerved by the prospect of a nest, empty save for Douglas, when Albie, their only son, leaves for college in the autumn, Connie tells Douglas that she feels their life together has run its course and that she thinks she wants to leave him.  Having always assumed they would grow old together, Douglas is stunned.  Their summer holiday plan has been to take Albie on a “Grand Tour” of European cities, taking in the major art galleries to better prepare him for college.  Douglas has planned the itinerary in meticulous detail and his first re-action is to cancel the trip.  Connie feels they should still go in the interests of Albie’s education and Douglas then sees the tour as an opportunity to save his marriage and also to improve his relationship with his son.

With Douglas as narrator we follow the unravelling of his plans as the Grand Tour lurches from crisis to calamity to near-catastrophe in a series of picaresque (potentially cinematic) episodes.  Interwoven with this are Douglas’s reflections which fill in the back story of how this seemingly incongruous couple got together and survived difficulties early in their marriage.  

The whole is presented with Nicholls’s trademark humour overlying and, at times, almost heart-breaking poignancy.  It is probably giving little away to say that the ending is positive but satisfyingly realistic.  There was much that group members could identify with, making “Us” a novel we can thoroughly recommend.  

Reading Group 2

Our main November book choice was Bloodyfield by Shrewsbury author Edith Pargeter OBE, BEM. Edith Pargeter 1913 – 1995, non de plume Ellis Peters, is well known for The Brother Cadfael Chronicles. A stain glass window depicting St Benedict was installed in Shrewsbury Abbey and dedicated to Edith Pargeter’s memory.

The year is 1399 Henry IV’s Kingdom is in crisis. The story tells of the relationship between Henry IV, his son-Hal (the Prince of Wales) and the famous Hotspur.

The group agreed that the writing and the descriptions were marvellous, such a lot of research had gone into the book. Chapter 4 describes a battle, so vivid and atmospheric that you could feel the vibrations of the horses’ hooves and you were living the battle. Chapter 7 describes a violent quarrel between the King and Hotspur, again you were in the room, feeling the anger and watching the tension.

Although this book had a slow start, it was marvellous. Would we recommend it? Yes we would.

Our alternative book was The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker. A very confusing read with complex characters .Would we recommend it? No we wouldn’t.

Other books read were The Child in Time by Ian McEwan recent TV adaptation far better than the TV version.

Frost at Midnight by James Henry. A typical Frost book, excellent writing.

Wynchwood by George Mann. Agatha Christie meets Midsomer Murders.

The Unseen by Ray Jacobson – Based in Norway, an island community mystery.


We meet in the Library on the second Thursday of each month at 1.30 pm.  At the moment our group is full but if anyone is interested in joining us, please ring either Anne or Hazel and we'll let you know when a vacancy occurs.


Many, many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the Christmas Party such a success.

There is so much talent in our U3A – actors, writers, poets, singers, musicians - who all came together to entertain us for the afternoon.

All this could not happen without all the volunteers who toiled behind the scenes, beforehand and afterwards, to set up the room and make it look so festive.  Thank you to the raffle organisers and the refreshment team and, of course, the committee.

In March we hope to put on a Lancashire afternoon, with hot pot.  More about that in our next newsletter and, all being well, tickets should be on sale in February and March.   

Pat Grimshaw