March’s monthly meeting

meeting150318Greetings to all members. Another full house. It is very heartening for the committee, our Speaker Finder Peter Carrigan,  and our speakers to see so many members attending.

Our guests were Mrs Kate Moreton-Deakin, one of the Deputy Lord Lieutenants of West Yorkshire; Cllr Jane Scullion, Deputy Mayor of Calderdale and her Consort Andrew Bibby. All said they had enjoyed their afternoon.

Gail gave her groups report, which can be found on the website. There are to be 3 new groups and a possible new meeting place in the Cornholme area. Gail also reports about on line courses from Australia. (Please note Gail’s new email address: )

Membership has risen to 519 at the last count. At next month’s members meeting, we will be pleased to commence taking subscriptions for the next financial year: these remain at £15. There will be some changes to procedure for new members, to try and reduce issues with banks.

The committee will also be asking members to sign up for Gift Aid. If members pay tax then they can sign for Gift Aid. By completing one form, just once, U3A Todmorden can claim back money from HM Government. In the last 2 years we have reclaimed almost £900. More members joining the scheme will help to keep subscriptions to the present level. I will be writing to members with full details in about 2 weeks.

A small sub group are looking at a combined finance and membership system, being supported by the Third Age Trust. This system should help to make our administration easier; there will be small annual cost of 50p/member, which will be absorbed.

Peter Gibson and Nigel Plant have been researching a replacement digital projector, wide screen and stand. Our original equipment is almost 10 years old and does not interface with modern computers, without adaptors.

The Creative Writing group have prepared, to date, 7 pieces some of which, we hope, will be performed at our Anniversary meeting in May. Some are quite hilarious.

Last month, my appeal for volunteers to join the committee, seemed to have been missed by members. So I repeat, we have committee members who are nearing the end of their tenure and have/wish to be replaced. Please contact me or any committee member, if you can offer your expertise.

Our showcase group this month was Practical Art. Pam Ball gave details about the group and the materials used – “charcoal, very messy.” She then introduced some colourful images of actual projects produced by members, demonstrating the variety and standard of the items . The photographs were impressive and the presentation was accompanied by John Denver’s “ Sunshine on my shoulder.” I would like to offer my congratulations to all concerned.

Geoff Carter, our guest speaker, returned for a 4th visit, with a presentation about the Battle of the Somme. As usual, he had researched his subject in great detail. Geoff began by telling members how volunteers were encouraged to sign up for the Forces: to “Fight for King and Country”. 500,000 joined in about 3 weeks and overwhelmed the system. He described a usual soldiers day: Stand to; morning hate (firing in the direction of the enemy); breakfast (no firing during meal breaks); relaxing time and hot meal; evening stand to; and evening hate. At night trenches would be dug, supplies brought up, and intelligence gathered by patrols. The details of the casualties were appalling. On 1 July 2016 the British Army were ready to commence battle. 57470 were killed or injured on the first day. Over 2 thousand officers were killed, and nearly all the Captains, who were first “over the wall” armed with just a revolver and stick. This was and is the greatest loss of men ever suffered by the British Army. The Somme campaign continued for 4 ½ months, after which a total over 1 million men, on all sides had been killed or wounded. Geoff gave his assessment of the reasons for the failure of the battle plan, and the history of the leaders of the British Army. An excellent and sombre presentation appreciated by our members.

Our next members meeting will be Thursday 19 April, when our speaker Granville Dobson will be making a return visit to talk about his “15 years as a Magistrate.” Your committee hope to meet you then.

Ernie Rogan.

Monthly Meeting: Back Issues

Lynne Midwinter with Chairman Keith Coates
Lynne Midwinter with Chairman Keith Coates

Back Issues

The last meeting of U3A Todmorden involved members in more physical activity than is usual at its monthly meetings. They were encouraged by their guest speaker, Lynne Midwinter, to try out exercises as part of her talk on “Back Issues”, and joined in with enthusiasm.

Chartered Physiotherapist, Lynne, who specialises in the treatment of spinal problems, explained, with graphic illustrations, the structure of the muscular skeletal system and the range of problems which affect so many, not just the elderly.

She went on to emphasise that many of the problems can be prevented by regular exercise and demonstrated simple exercises which should be done on a daily basis to maintain flexibility. Even if a problem has already developed it doesn`t mean that exercise should be avoided – for most climbing stairs is a good thing –not something to be avoided.

The message was if you want to keep it – use it!

The talk clearly struck a chord, possibly a painful one, for many in the audience as was demonstrated by the many questions which it provoked.

U3A Todmorden – AGM

Lynne’s talk followed the Annual General Meeting of U3A (University of the Third Age) Todmorden on Thursday 18 June. The U3A has gone from strength to strength since it was started in 2008. In that first year there were about 40 members; the past year showed an increase from 370 to 415.

Over the year the U3A’s monthly meetings were regularly attended by more than 100 members. It now runs more than 30 interest groups covering a wide range of educational, recreational and social activities. Plans are already in place to add further groups. A new feature in the past year was a very successful short study course on the Magna Carta. It ‘s hoped that further short courses will be developed in the coming year.

Overall the message was – another very successful year.

If you are interested in finding out more, visit the web site or come to a monthly meeting – third Thursday of every month, 1:30 for 2:00 at Central Methodists, Todmorden. Our next speaker on Thursday 16 July will be Geoff Budd on ‘North Korea today: Fact or Fantasy?’

Report by Chairman Keith Coates

India: extremes and contrasts

Speaker Sally Pulvertaft with Keith Coates
Speaker Sally Pulvertaft with Keith Coates

If members and guests attending the May Todmorden U3A general meeting expected Sally Pulvertuft’s talk on India – Extremes and Contrasts to be traveller’s tales accompanied by a plethora of photographs, they were soon disabused. There were a few photos but perhaps more displays were quotes on India from others than herself. Sally has been a businesswoman then latterly an educationalist. She first went to India as a 22 year-old, and was captivated, like so many before and since, from the very start.

There was nothing familiar about the place. It was such a profound experience that she did not visit again for another ten years through fear that any subsequent visit would never live up to that first, life-changing experience. It made her look at the world in a completely different way. This quote might have been written for that first visit. “India is exhausting – it hits all your five senses at once.” Everywhere, Sally said, was surrounded by colour; and much of that is seen in fabric. That, too, is everywhere, lived under and eaten under, as well as on the person. The other thing Sally thought amazing was the people, they too, were everywhere. On a train, hanging off the top; a motor bike going past with ten people hanging on it. And Indians were always smiling and open, ready to engage. She saw bodies carried in the street in the spirit of celebration, as in the Hindu tradition the deceased was moving on and there is an acceptance of this because there is a completely different underpinning of society.

The impact on her, Sally said, could be summed up by a quote of Keith Bellow’s: “There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colours, smells, tastes, and sounds. It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolour.”

Sally told her audience that she would talk about her travels – she has been going there for 35 years – but also raise questions, as part of her experience of India is that it always raised questions of herself, of our society and things we take for granted. She would also talk about education, the theme that has her keep going back. The first question that was raised in her mind on that first visit came from talking with a young woman. Both Sally and her travelling companion of about the same age had been divorced and talked with a young, well educated Indian woman about her arranged marriage. The young woman challenged them by remarking that the western marriage tradition didn’t work so well as they had both divorced at an early age whilst she was still married.

Sally’s work in education took her back there every few months over a ten year period. She worked with students and supported companies starting up and was able to see the growth of a superpower. She saw cities rising out of the ground; companies with a handful of staff which three months later would have a hundred, three more and they had an office block. Such was the rate of growth. The diversity of India can be summed up by the 120 official languages out of the 780 recognised languages that are spoken. The median age of there is 27, in China 37, in the UK 40. India has a young population as 65 per cent are under 35. This poses a big challenge for education and British universities are supporting the country in trying to build the necessary education infrastructure.

Sally has been working for the last 15 years trying to help build that infrastructure to meet this need. There are English speaking young people, highly educated in a high quality education system, for those that it can reach, who have a naturally external pluralist view and are entrepreneurs. These are the young people British young people are going to be competing with for jobs. The young in India are highly motivated as they see education as the way out of poverty.

Global Connections is a social enterprise organisation that Sally is involved with. It gives “gap years for oldies”, as Sally put it. One of their projects is the Toilet Museum, in the top ten of the weirdest in the world, according to Sally. It was set up by a man who has the mission to provide every home in India with a toilet. He looked at the lot of the Dalit – Untouchables, who had the task of dealing with human waste. He wanted to eliminate the need for that task and to help women who had to go into the fields in the evening if they had no toilet. This made them exposed and vulnerable. The museum shows the work of the project with various designs of toilets that can be used anywhere without the need for drainage and sewers. The waste can be recycled and used on the land for example. There are many examples of social enterprise across India applying practical ways to solve various social problems.

Sally moved on to education and spoke about a project that had increased mature women’s literacy by 25%. Sally thought that amazing but was pulled up short when told that it leaves 300 million women still illiterate. Her most satisfying work, she said, is with Professor Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University. Sally played a couple of minutes of a TED talk that Mitra gave outlining his work. He is most famous for “The Hole in the Wall”, which became the inspiration for Slumdog Millionaire.

Educating children in rural India is a problem as young teachers want to work in the city. Mitra conceived the idea of placing a computer in a whole in the wall rather like an ATM and just leaving it with a camera focussed on it. In three months, illiterate children had taught themselves how to use it and were learning English. Research showed that children learn quicker this way, outstripping children spending the same number of hours in front of a teacher.

The World Bank gave Mitra some money to set up a project to research the use teacherless schools in rural areas as a way of dealing with the lack of teachers. Mitra went on to develop the “School in the Cloud” for which he won $1m dollars TED prize. Mitra recruited retired teachers and other educational professionals to teach English to children in rural India by distance learning on the internet, using webcams. Sally said the project is always looking for more retired teachers to get involved. She said it could also be applied in the country, giving the teaching of apprentices as an example. For perspectives on other aspects of Indian life, Sally recommended a series of essays by Amartya Sen, “The Argumentative Indian”.

Sally’s talk included an amusing family anecdote of driving two tuk-tuks, and how one of her teenage sons adopted the Indian entrepreneurial spirit whilst there. And her talk was interspersed with reflections on the similarities as well as the differences between Britain and India, and what challenges we may expect in respect of our place in the world as we move further into the twenty-first century. Jean Pearson moved the vote of thanks and presented a token of appreciation at the end of a much appreciated talk.

The next general meeting of Todmorden U3A is at 1.30 pm on Thursday 18 June at Central Methodists, Todmorden. Lynne Midwinter of Physiotherapies will speak on Back Issues. Details of group meetings are on or phone 01422 844713 or 01706 839176.

Report by John Bouttell
Picture by Gail Allaby

Chairman’s report June 2015

Today we had two meetings.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held before the normal general meeting. The Minutes of last year`s meeting were approved and the Annual Report and Accounts for 2014-15 were approved. It was reported that there had been another positive year with membership again increasing to 415. The financial position remains very healthy with another small increase in funds . As a result it had been possible to hold the membership fee at the same level for the sixth year. Barring any unforeseen events it should be possible to hold that position for at least another 2 years.

The Vice Chairman ,Jean Pearson ,had reached the end of her 2 year period in office and has stood down from that post. Jean has had made a invaluable contribution .As many of you will recall she was the Acting Chairman for 10 months ,following the untimely death of former Chairman ,David Cross. I am particularly grateful for the support which she has given to me. I trust that Jean will continue to play a major role in her capacity as a convenor and in helping to develop short courses, building on the success of the Magna Carta course which she organised. You may well have seen the references to that course in the recent issue of “Third Age Matters”.

Three other committee members also stood down; Andy Garner;Margaret Gunnill; and Gail Allaby.

The following were elected :

Ernie Rogan as Vice Chairman.

Gail Allaby ; Margaret Gunnill ;and Mary Devereux were elected to the vacant positions.

(I will circulate a full list of the new committee ,including co-opted members, with contact details in the next few days)

The AGM was closed at 2.13pm.

Following the  AGM we moved to the usual General Meeting. The speaker this week was well known to many members through her Physiotherapy Clinic based in Todmorden. Lynne Midwinter, a Chartered Physiotherapist with many years experience in the NHS  and in private practice talked about “Back issues” . This ranged over the various causes of back and other associated problems ;pointing out those most likely to affect our age group . She also outlined the steps which can be taken to help prevent or alleviate such problems. This included an element of audience participation in some exercises. It was an excellent, well illustrated, and humorous  presentation .

The next General Meeting is on Thursday July 16th when Geoff Budd will be speaking on “North Korea –Fact or Fantasy ”.

Kind Regards

Keith Coates

Summat a Nowt

Steve Murty, Peter Carrigan and Keith Coates
Steve Murty, Peter Carrigan and Keith Coates

Members of Todmorden U3A were presented with a different format when the main speaker was introduced at their April general meeting. Peter Carrigan, U3A’s speaker finder, interviewed Steve Murty about the history of Upper Calder Valley, a presentation entitled Summat a’ Nowt. This was at Steve’s request, as he felt more comfortable than facing his audience more directly. Did this mean that Peter had to draw him out? Not a bit of it, in fact, Peter needed to put but few questions, and then usually only to get Steve to give another angle on whatever aspect of life in Stubb he was focussing on.

For it was life in Stubb, the township in which he was born and raised, that Steve related to his audience. Customers of Steve’s motor business new to the area would ask him about the Calder Valley. At the same time, as a member of Hebden Bridge Local History Society – of which he is now Vice-President, Steve began to realise that there was a lot of local history which was held only in the minds of older people and was not being recorded. He set about recording the anecdotes he heard about the past from older people.

Steve’s own situation, living in one of the 17 cottages which comprised Stubb, in which his family had lived in for five generations, lent itself to the kind of research he wanted to do. Sixteen of the cottages were lived in by people in their old age. Those people had memories going back over a century. Some of Steve’s childhood memories aided him, too. When he had just started school he was diagnosed with suspected TB. This meant that although he did not go to school he was not confined to home. So he visited local artisans, farmers and neighbours and heard all sorts of tales of days gone by.

At that time, Steve said, Stubb was in a time warp as there had been no changes to the houses, still with the old ranges with a pot hanging above, rag rugs over flags, not a hint of modernisation. In the fifties, Steve’s parents were unmoved by visitors’ suggestions that they modernise by such steps as knocking out mullion windows and plywood boarding doors then painting over. Others did modernise in similar ways and later replaced wooden window frames with those made in pvc. The whole process, Steve wryly remarked, was largely reversed in later years by the comfortably off offcumdens who moved into the cottages and set about restoring “original features”.

The sinks and the larder were on the cooler, north side of each cottage. Each had a built in cupboard which served to store almost everything they owned when not in use. Floor level would have stored buckets, basins and mixing bowls. The shelf above took pans, kettle, flat iron, etc. Next would hold the cutlery tray and everything to be kept dry – sugar, salt, herbs and important papers. On upwards, the shelves held, crockery, linen, table cloths and any other possessions. All would be hidden from visitors behind panelled doors. Washing was always done on a Monday – protocol was strict – water would be boiled in a tub and a washboard used.

Steve revealed that through examining court records going back as far as 1307 and comparing the cases that his wife related to him in her role as a magistrate, the same kinds of offences committed remained the same over the years. Most of his audience were probably aware of the past existence of the gibbet in Halifax. Steve explained that cloth left hanging to dry was vulnerable to theft so the Halifax wool merchants instituted the gibbet as a deterrent. That was the reason for Halifax being a place to be delivered from in the lines: “From Hell, Hull and Halifax, the Good Lord deliver us.” In Hull’s case, Steve said, it was the risk of being press-ganged that was the reason for avoiding it.

Using his grandfather as an example, Steve illustrated how, despite working 12 hours a day, six days a week as a wheelwright, he found time to work a big garden, with all sorts of fruit and vegetables, and keep hens. His grandfather also played cricket and become a champion at billets. This was typical of the time. People educated themselves and Todmorden was home to a number of experts in botany, archaeology and other disciplines and exchanged papers with others, including academics.

With regard to social mores, Steve surprised no one when he said that years ago children received a clip round the ear, or perhaps the belt for more serious misdemeanours. If a woman received a male visitor in circumstances deemed inappropriate, the community would gather outside the door with pots and pans which would be beaten with increasing speed until the offending male was driven out and chased away. “Rough music” it was known as. The offender was only accepted back into the community if he made an honest woman of the lady concerned, or if he could not, then he was not accepted back at all. Steve observed that if the same practice continued today, there would be no peace and quiet in the valley!

When time forced Steve to bring his talk to a close, Peter referred to a number of aspects of Valley life that were not touched on. Material for a return visit, perhaps. Steve’s appreciative audience no doubt left with that hope in their minds. Some of them bought a copy of Steve’ book, Summat a’ Nowt, available at the meeting. Vice chairman Jean Pearson presented the gift token accompanied by warm applause.

The short talk was given by Daniel Jessop, Volunteer and Events Co-ordinator of Todmorden Town Hall Heritage Centre and Volunteer programme. A new Heritage Centre will be set up and volunteers trained to conduct tours of the Town Hall. The project will include research into the history of Todmorden and the Town Hall; mounting exhibitions, and oral history coffee mornings to encourage local people to share stories about the building’s rich heritage. Those interested in being involved can contact Daniel on 01706 548105; 07912 891370 or email Twitter @TodTownHall

Report by John Bouttell.

‘My convict ancestors’

Todmorden U3A member Sue Hayter made no apologies for having convict ancestors when she spoke at the March general meeting, in a talk entitled My Convict Ancestors – A Genealogical Journey. The story, a detailed and fascinating one, revolved around two brothers from Hereford who, having been convicted of aggravated robbery were transported to Australia in 1833. Sue also revealed that although her maiden name was Marriott, strictly speaking she should have been a Widdup. But that part of the story did not emerge until later.

Elizabeth Ann Maylard, Sue’s great grandmother married John Marriott and they had three children. Sue’s quest to trace her Maylard ancestry was prompted by hearing her great -Aunt Clara talking about the family in detail but holding back on something she told Sue to ask her father about. For his part, Sue’s father wanted to find out more about his father, Wilfred Widdup, with whom Elizabeth had a fling. Hence, Sue was really a Widdup. Wilfred went missing in about 1925 and little is known about him except that his mother’s maiden name was Maylard. Clara had also referred to a Rev. John Maylard, whom Sue could not fit into the family picture she had at that early stage. Her father was aware of a book called From Prison to Pulpit, and written about the Reverend after his death.

Sue started working backwards in time through public records to answer these and other questions she had about her family. The internet also proved a valuable aid in Sue’s search, and not just specialist websites – “googling”, found Herb Pruett, a second cousin in America, where a number of Maylards had gone in the 19th century. Herb was to provide Sue with a family tree and a transcript of From Prison to Pulpit.

Although born in Nottingham herself, Sue found forbears in Rochdale and Burnley but it’s Hereford, to where Rev. John had been traced, to continue to the story of the brothers. Sue went there to research in the library and records office. She found maps and located where the Maylards had lived, as she wanted as full a picture of the lives of her ancestors as she could glean, rather than merely compile a family tree. Sue identified Thomas Maylard and Elizabeth, nee Gough, and married in 1801, as the parents of the Rev. John.
He was one of nine children and it was two of his elder brothers, James, born 1811, and Charles, born 1813, three years John’s senior, who were transported.

John’s brushes with the law which gave rise to the title of the book about him were minor but did cause him to realise he could take his life in a wrong direction. Or it was it possibly the example of his brothers? Sue quoted from From Prison to Pulpit “On the morning of Easter Sunday 1833, when but 16 and a half years of age, he had a remarkable dream which made such an impression on him that he requested his father to allow him to leave his situation [employment] and thus remove him from the scene of peculiar temptation and sin.” This, a fortnight after his brothers’ trial. The dream lead to his decision to turn to God and he became a Primitive Methodist preacher active from 1834 until his death in 1896.

The law proved to be the restraint on James’s and Charles’s criminal activities after they undertook a burglary in Hereford with two others, stealing two silver watches and other items from Thomas Treherne. Treherne was 83 and used crutches. He was threatened with being struck with a plank – aggravated burglary in today’s terms.

They were apprehended and tried on 27 March, 1833. Previous convictions contributed to the sentence of transportation being passed. The first part of their sentence was spent in the local gaol before being taken to a hulk – prison ship. Many convicts spent their whole sentence on these hulks and only healthy young prisoners were sent to Australia. James and Charles sailed from Woolwich on the convict ship Lloyd on 19 August, 1833 and arrived in Sydney Cove on 18 December. Sue learned much about their fate and also had a quite detailed description of them from the Convict Indents which included their tattoos, which in Charles’s case were the initials and birthdays of his parents and siblings.

Convicts were made to work, the system being directed to that end. The only occupants of gaols were those convicted locally. James may have been a seaman as he was employed on steam boats. Charles was sent to a settler in Bathurst and may have been a shepherd. There were two types of pardon available to convicts: Conditional or Absolute. A conditional pardon removed all restrictions but they had to stay within the colony. An absolute pardon allowed a convict to travel anywhere. James and Charles both received conditional pardons in 1848.

Herb Pruett has two letters written by James which showed that he broke the terms of the pardon and returned to England. One of the letters conveyed the news that Charles was dead but with no details of the matter. James had seemed to have disappeared from the record until someone suggested that Sue search under his mother’s maiden name, Gough. Sure enough, Sue found a James Gough in Hampshire, with a wife from Australia and with other details that fitted. The happy outcome for all, particularly Sue’s father was a family hitherto unknown was reunited. Herb Pruett contacted Sue to tell her he and his wife planned to visit the UK with York on their itinerary. They all met there and had a celebratory lunch together.

It is difficult to do justice to Sue’s story here, as besides the story of Charles and James, the ins and outs of her research also had her audience gripped. Then there was the information, included in her talk, she has collected which provided a remarkable insight into the English penal system of the time, the history of transportation and the ships employed, and finally, the way the Australian penal colony worked. The talk was well timed for those in the audience who are watching the BBC series –“Banished”.

Sue’s story can be found in her book, My Maylard Family – The Genealogical History of an Ordinary Family, which also includes a transcript of From Prison to Pulpit.

Sue was preceded by a short talk given by Katie Whittam of Pennine Horizons who outlined their programme of history walks. This attracted considerable interest and all the leaflets were taken. There are presently eleven walks ranging in length for 2 to 8 miles. They cover a variety of interests from the wool trade; radical history, the Fieldens to woodland heritage. Look out for leaflets in your local information office or view at or ring 01422 844450.

The next general meeting of Todmorden U3A is at 1.30 pm on Thursday 16 April at Central Methodists, Todmorden. The main item: Summat a’ Nowt – A History of the Upper Calder Valley, a Conversation with Steve Murty. Details of group meetings are on or phone 01422 844713 or 01706 839176

Report by John Bouttell
Picture by Gail Allaby

Chairman’s Report: February 2015

Dear Members

At our meeting on Thursday we had the highest ever attendance of 141 (128 members and 13 visitors) .Four new members joined which brings our total membership to 400.

For the first time for some months we had a short talk. Elizabeth Barron, Head of the Direct Payments Team at Calderdale Social Services, provided a very clear and helpful explanation of  direct payments which  are offered to people who need care and support and to carers. Direct payments enable people to arrange their own services rather than have them provided  for them by Social Services.For further information you can contact or call the Direct Payments Team on 01422 363561.

The main speaker on Thursday was Robert Cockcroft, author and poet, whose “Lament for the Mills” was based on his book of poetry with that title. Reading a selection of the poems, interspersed with reminiscences of his boyhood in Todmorden  Robert conjured up images of the mills and their environment and some of the characters in them. his struck a chord with many in the audience who could remember the places and the people.

Turning to more mundane, but important, matters our “Refreshment Team ” still need more volunteers (male or female) for the the rota for refreshment table. If you are able to assist please make yourself known at the refreshment table at the next meeting.

The next General Meeting is on Thursday, 19th March, when the speaker will be one of our members, Sue Hayter, who admits that she is descended from a line of convicts and will speak of “My Convict Ancestors: A Genealogical Journey”.

Keith Coates

Magna Carta resource page

Magna Carta
Magna Carta

This is the resources page for the U3A Todmorden Magna Carta group. We met January to April 2015, the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.  Our co-convenor Jean Pearson’s report on what we did is attached here.

To add links or images please email Alan McDonald.





Official Magna Carta site –

British Library –

Review of British Library exhibition –

Online courses

Royal Holloway London –

Broadcast material

Monologue by Marriott Edgar –

BBC 4-part series on the Legacy of Magna Carta (January 2015) –

BBC2 Taking Liberties season including David Starkey one-hour film –

William Marshall, the man who ensured the legacy of teh Magna Carta:

Coming up: Horrible Histories Special 13 Feb:


Modern day English –


Lincoln 3-day conference in April –

Day conference in Oxford in June (pricey) –[]=800

Research and their blog


Pontefract Hermitage – said to be the ‘home’ of Peter who was executed by King John for foreseeing his downfall! –

Lancaster Castle –

Rochdale Town Hall bookings –


King John –

Magna Carta first meeting - picture by Eernie Rogan
Magna Carta first meeting – picture by Ernie Rogan


Festive fun with Punch and Judy

Maurice Heath and Mr Punch
Maurice Heath and Mr Punch

It was Festive Fun, accompanied by liquid punch, mince pies and shortbread biscuits, at the December Todmorden U3A general meeting with Mad Hatter Illuminations, aka Maurice Heath and Judy Heath, topping the bill. Before putting on a Punch and Judy show they enlightened their audience with the history of this traditional entertainment.

Maurice explained that it had its roots in ancient Greece, where mood in drama was represented by the two masks of comedy and tragedy. Archaelogical evidence has led to conjecture that actors travelled to take a lighter form of theatre beyond the confines of the city of Athens. Mime was part of theatre and was taken back to Italy, where it flourished, after the Romans conquered Greece. It was here in Italy that came the beginnings of Punch and Judy as we know it, originating in commedia dell’arte and the character Pulcinello. It travelled to France and from there to Britain.

Pulcinello and the other characters started as marionettes and Pepys made reference in his diary to seeing this marionette show. For much of its history, it was an entertainment for adults, with political and economic commentary on the affairs of the day. Both show and audience were also very raucous. Performers travelled the country visiting the local fairs. Transporting marionettes, and the cost of paying several people to operate them, led to the adoption of glove puppets in the latter half of the 18th century. Puritanical attitudes towards actors also allowed puppets to thrive.

In the early 19th century Punch and Judy (originally Joan) was very violent, with Judy being beaten and killed by Punch. This was when the show included characters since dropped, Pretty Polly, Punch’s mistress, the Judge and the hangman, Jack Ketch. He is named after the infamous executioner appointed by Charles II. Ketch bungled the beheadings of two aristocrats (commoners were hanged) leading to his name being used as a term for the hangman of the day as well as a character in Punch and Judy.

There was no one story and certainly no script until 1828 when a journalist, John Collier, wrote down the scenario as performed by Giovanni Piccini and was published with illustrations by Cruikshank. The show we see in Britain today derives from this. Judy became milder over time, the baby was a toddler in Victorian times, and was always “it”, with no gender ascribed. The dog, another common character, became a live one, providing a greater attraction. It was always a “Yorkie”, the right size and with an amenable temperament. Scaramouche, one of the original characters, developed into a clown.

Later in the century, Mr Punch and co. moved into the towns with a show on almost every street corner, catering for people to poor to attend theatre. It was still very flamboyant and Italian in style. The next change came with the railways, Wakes Weeks, and holidays at the seaside to where Punch and Judy migrated. Of necessity, the story changed to accommodate the presence of children and became what it is today.

Much of the violence was removed leading to the departure of Pretty Polly – Punch couldn’t have a mistress in a children’s show – the Judge and Jack Ketch, among others. Only the policeman from the realm of law and order remained. Another advance in transport in the 1960s brought about the next change in Mr Punch’s fortunes, cheap air fares and package holidays enabling millions of Britons to holiday abroad. With a decline in audiences at the domestic seaside, he now preforms for children’s parties, in smaller and more portable booths. More recently, political correctness has also had its impact, with the issue of domestic violence much more to the for. Punch and Judy are still making appearances at fairs and fetes, and student unions arrange for the Victorian version to be performed.

After Maurice and Judy had delivered what was an amusing as well as a fascinating history, U3A members were treated to a short performance, gleefully accepting Judy’s invitation to be six years old again. This led for example, to many cries of “Oh no you weren’t!”, in response to Mr Punch’s protestations of how good he he had been. Peter Carrigan, U3A’s Speaker finder, moved the vote of thanks and presented the customary token. This was followed by a quiz set by Myrna Beet, Denise Wilson, Anne and Colin Crane, and Mary Findon. Then, like all good children after an afternoon of fun and entertainment, members went home tired but happy.

Report by John Bouttell
Picture by Gail Allaby

Christmas meeting: Acting Chairman’s report

What a splendid afternoon – full of interest and excitement.

We gave our thanks to Alison Greenwood and all the refreshment volunteers for a special start to our meeting. We also thanked Anne Crane for arranging all our guest speakers from January to November this year – what a wide-ranging and interesting set of topics we’ve enjoyed.

The Punch and Judy Show was fascinating because Maurice introduced us to all the characters in a traditional Victorian Show which have evolved since the time of the early Greeks – and Judy gave us a brief history of the development and changes of the themes in more recent times and although very few Punch and Judy Shows remain by the seaside a recent development has been an increase in popularity at Students’ Unions in Universities.

Peter Carrigan gave our vote of thanks.

The Christmas Quiz was introduced by Myrna Beet who gave her thanks to members of our U3A Tod Quiz Group who had compiled the Quiz for us this year. It was challenging and very interesting because it was based upon our senses! I didn’t get the names of all the members of the winning team – they scored 26 out of a possible 30 points – well done. The exciting prize was a huge box of chocolates and the winning team opened them and shared them with all of us – thank you.

Our next meeting takes place at 2 pm on Thursday, 15th January, 2015 when our guest speaker will be Paulo Marini – Project Developer and Systems Designer – the topic being ‘Open Farm Technologies – Aquaponics’.

Best wishes at Christmas and for the New Year
Jean – Acting Chairman

Next meeting 18th December

Next Thursday, December 18th it’s the U3A Tod Christmas meeting at Central Methodists – featuring a Punch and Judy Show on the theme of Dickens’ Christmas Carol and a Quiz with a PRIZE for the winners. Plus seasonal refreshments –not just the usual tea,coffee and biscuits!
The meeting will start as usual at 2.00 pm and the doors will be open from 1.30 pm. Jean Pearson will be in charge while Chairman Keith is across the Atlantic

Tykes and le Tour

Mike Darke with chairman Keith Coates
Mike Darke with chairman Keith Coates

Yorkshire has a long history of leading racing cyclists and can boast an exceptional world champion in the person of Beryl Burton. Mike Darke a native of the Potteries, spoke as enthusiastically about them as any true born Yorkie when he addressed the November general meeting of Todmorden U3A.

British Professional Cycling – Tykes and Le Tour de France was his topic and though the British were late in entering a team in the race – 1955, Mike took his audience back to the beginnings of cycling, cycle racing, and Le Tour.

The first Tour was in 1903, its unlikely origins in the Dreyfus Affair. Dreyfus was an army captain convicted of passing military secrets to the Germans. He was exonerated some years later but in the meantime French opinion was divided and there were demonstrations on both sides. The largest sports newspaper, Le Velo, supported Dreyfus. A rival paper, L’Auto, owned by someone who thought Dreyfus guilty, was set up but struggled to get close to its rival’s sales and the first Tour was to be the answer.

The Tour was the first staged race and initially, the riders entered as individuals or as a member of a team until the thirties, when it became teams only, they being sponsored by bike manufacturers. The first staged race in Britain took place in 1942 between Llangollen and Wolverhampton and in 1945 the first version of the Tour of Britain was held.

Charles Holland and Bill Burl were the first Britons in the race in 1937. It took 18 years for Ravensthorpe-born Brian Robinson to become the first Briton to finish the Tour and the first to win a stage.

Barry Hoban was born ten years after Robinson, in Wakefield. He formerly held the record for the most stage wins in the Tour by a British rider, winning eight between 1967 and 1975. He holds the record for the most Tours completed by a British rider – having finished 11 of the 12 he started between 1965 and 1978. He was also the only Briton to have won two consecutive stages of the Tour until Mark Cavendish matched it in 2008.

Malcolm Elliott was not born in West Yorkshire but in Sheffield, in1961. He was mainly a sprint cyclist and his breakthrough came at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane where he first took gold in the team time trial and then again in the 184 kilometre road race, but did take part in the 1987 Tour.

Mike told his audience that he rated Tom Simpson as the most successful British cyclist. Simpson was both a road and track cyclist and his major achievements stretched from 1955 to 1967 and included donning the yellow jersey 3 times in the Tour, with a 6th place finish overall in 1962 as his best performance.

Some may argue with Mike’s estimation of Simpson’s achievements when compared with those of Leeds native Beryl Burton. Burton won the women’s world road race championship in 1960 and 1967 and was runner-up in 1961. On the track, she specialised in the individual pursuit, winning world championship medals almost every year across three decades. She was world champion five times silver-medallist three times, and winner of five bronze medals.

In domestic time trial competition, Burton was almost unbeatable. She won the Road Time Trials British Best All-Rounder Competition for 25 consecutive years from 1959 to 1983. In total, she won 72 national individual time trial titles; she won four at 10 miles (the championship was inaugurated in 1978), 26 at 25 miles, 24 at 50 miles and 18 at 100 miles. Her last national solo time trial titles were achieved in 1986 (at 25 and 50 miles;)

She also won a further 24 national titles in road racing and on the track: twelve road race championships, and 12 pursuit titles.

In 1967, she set a new 12-hour time trial record that surpassed the men’s record of the time and was not superseded by a man until 1969. While setting the record she caught and passed Mike McNamara who was on his way to setting the men’s record.

She also set about 50 new national records at distances of up to 100 miles; her final 10, 25 and 50-mile records each lasted 20 years before being broken, her 100-mile record lasted 28 years, and her 12-hour record still stands today.

Back to the Tour, and Mike reminded his audience that Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win, in 2012.

The success of the Tour enabled the owners of L’Auto to drive Le Velo out of business in 1904. Mike said that now the Tour is a both a vehicle of consumerism and has grown to be the greatest free show on earth watched on TV by half of the world’s population.

In answer to a question, Mike opined that the best way to promote cycling was for cars to slow down!

Bill Griffiths had the pleasure of presenting Mike with the usual token of appreciation at the end of an interesting talk .


Report by John Bouttell

Picture by Roger Howard

Misgivings and the joy of canals

Chairman Keith Coates with Todmorden Mayor Michael Gill and speaker Diana Monahan
Chairman Keith Coates with Todmorden Mayor Michael Gill and speaker Diana Monahan

Misgivings, was what Todmorden Mayor, Michael Gill felt, when contemplating the title of the talk due to be given at the October Todmorden U3A general meeting. Michael was a guest of the U3A, where the speaker was Diana Monahan on Canals in My Life. His worship (do we still use that form of address?) later confessed he didn’t find the title very promising, when presenting the usual token of appreciation to Diana at the end of the meeting. Her talk included a history of canals, the workings of locks and canal restoration,

Diana became acquainted with canals early in life as her father took her and her brother to the Pocklington and Cottingham canals as children. The family also holidayed with Anglo-Welsh Narrow Boats. It affected her life considerably, she said and went on to entertain her audience, including the Mayor, in the telling. An early anecdote concerned trying to get her A level results while on a boating holiday. The nearest phone box had one of the old A and B buttons and it was quite a trial for her to effect the call. Another concerned her brother encountering an on board shower for the first time. He couldn’t turn the water off and succeeded in pulling the head off as well, making things worse. She tried to assist and they frantically bailed at the same time. In the end it needed their father to determine they’d been trying to turn the tap the wrong way.

After marrying, Diana and her husband had a narrow boat honeymoon. There were still a number of working boats in those days but few guide books for those boating for leisure. Diana related another mishap as she had borrowed a guide book from the library, one that was out of print. The book found its way into the canal on a number of occasions, its resulting wrinkled condition necessitating them to purchase it from the library.

Diana and her husband bought their first boat, “Monty”, in 1977 and painted and refitted it. Their next purchase was a butty boat, Madeley, without engine or accommodation as these were the barges that were towed behind another barge as a means of transporting a greater load. The back end had been crushed by a swing bridge. They shortened the boat for use on the Leeds-Liverpool canal, built a traditional back cabin and fitted an old Lister engine, one of the last of its kind.

Diana then related how she secured a place on a training course in Birmingham. Her husband managed to get a work transfer from Leeds to Birmingham and they moved the boat to Gas Street Basin and lived there. The course over, they went back to Leeds and moored by the station for six months after which they sold their house and took Madeley, to back to Gas Street Basin. They stayed there long enough to attend three boat weddings.

Diana learned fender mending and they bought another butty boat – Argo and offered Argo Canal Services. They were the first to have diesel to supply other boats and carried sand, gravel and coal and also Marston’s beer in barrels. In 1984, Basin Street Basin was drained for cleaning for the first time in over a hundred years and the boats all had to move to Wolverhampton. They got as far as Tipton when the canal froze and all were stranded. There was a highlight for Diana in that Tipton had wonderful Victorian baths where she could not only swim but was able to regularly luxuriate in a hot bath. The boats finally got to Wolverhampton but were frozen-in there for a month.

Diana and her husband returned to a redeveloped Gas Street Basin with not just a noisy nightlife but a noisy early morning one as well. So a move to Curdworth was undertaken before returning to Yorkshire. It became too costly to moor three boats as fees were going up by 20% each year. They decided to sell up their business and retire, keeping only Madeley. They found a small house at Macpelah with a mooring and have been happily going all over the country, stopping to explore small towns.

Diana invited her audience to join her in being a volunteer with OWLS – Observer of Waterways Length. Owls keep an eye on a length of canal and pick up litter and dog muck. Diana’s talk was illustrated throughout and she also brought Madeley’s traditionally decorated water can and a boatwoman’s bonnet.

A questioner asked about holidaying on a boat with children. With younger children, Diana replied, it is better to choose a canal that is not heavily locked. An option for older children is to go down the Grand Union to London, affording the opportunity to go into Town and take in the sites and museums, etc., that London has to offer.

In moving the vote of thanks, Mayor Michael Gill assured Diana that his misgivings were misplaced, thanking her for an interesting and fascinating talk. A view shared by the audience judging by their response throughout as well as their applause at the end.

Report by John Bouttell. Picture by Roger Howard.

Chairman’s Report October 2014

Chairman Keith Coates with Todmorden Mayor Michael Gill and speaker Diana Monahan
Chairman Keith Coates with Todmorden Mayor Michael Gill and speaker Diana Monahan

Dear Members

Last Thursday there was a record attendance of 136 (125 members and 11 visitors) for the monthly meeting . In addition we were pleased to welcome the Mayor of Todmorden, Cll. Michael Gill.

That large number were treated to a fascinating, wide ranging and well illustrated talk by  Diana Monahan which covered a history of canals, the workings of locks, canal restoration, and making a home on canal barges. Diana now lives on dry land but still alongside the canal in Hebden Bridge

New Groups
Gail Allaby, Groups Coordinator, announced that 6 new groups are being suggested. These are :

French for Beginners
Modern Greek
Radio Control Models- if you want further information about this possibility please contact Brian Schofield –
Poland Appreciated
Magna Carta –this will not be a long term group on the basis as other Special Interest groups but will be a study group which will last some weeks and perhaps prepare a presentation  to coincide with the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

If you are interested in any of these groups and wish to sign up please contact Gail Allaby,Groups Coordinator,  or Dee Kerslake, Asst.Groups Coordinator, . Whether or not the groups proceed depends on sufficient members expressing interest.

Web Site
There is a new feature on our web site – Diary – where you will find a diary of Special Interest groups and other events for some months ahead. This is still a work in progress and some meetings may be missing at the moment but it will be fully established soon. Thanks are due to Peter Gibson and Alan McDonald for their work on the Diary.

Next Meeting
Our next meeting is on Thursday ,November 20 , when the speaker is one of our  own members, Mike  Darke, whose subject is “British Professional Cycling – Yorkies & Le Tour de France”

Next meeting October 16th

The Mayor of Tod Michael Gill is coming…are you?
Our next General Meeting is on Thursday ,October 16th, when the speaker will be Diana Monahan talking about ‘Canals in my life’. Hebden Bridge-based Diana has appeared on TV in ‘Great Canal Journeys’ with Timothy West and Prunella Scales.  She’s involved with the award-winning Rochdale Canal Connections Project.
The meeting will start at usual at 2.00 pm and the doors will be open at 1.30 pm when tea/coffee and biscuits will be available.

From singing with Pavarotti to…

National Chairman Barbara Lewis learns 'felting' from U3A Todmorden craft group members at the September coffee morning
National Chairman Barbara Lewis learns ‘felting’ from U3A Todmorden craft group members at the September coffee morning

In addressing the September general meeting of Todmorden U3A, National U3A Chairman, Barbara Lewis, gave her audience a teaser. “I’m going to tell you three things about myself, two of which are false. I’m going to leave you to guess which one and we’ll come back to them later. I’ve travelled on the Trans-Siberian railway. I’ve met Barack Obama. I’ve sang twelve times with Pavarotti. Which one is true?”

Barbara then proceeded with a little of the history of U3A. It started in France in 1972 and was firmly rooted in the universities and were run by them. This model was rejected in Britain, not least because the universities were not interested, nor was the government despite the fact that U3A fitted with government policy. So it was decided to go it alone. Barbara brandished a copy of the annual report which has a cover photo of Eric Midwinter, the last surviving member of the triumvirate of founders. Barbara recommended reading the annual report – usually thought of as a boring document, she said – as it had details of what the twelve regions of U3A are doing.

Presently, there are 926 groups in the UK, and while the voluntary sector generally is shrinking, U3A continues to grow.

Barbara then drew attention to the principles, vision and mission of U3A. The principles of U3A are mutual aid and self-help. Our Vision is to make lifelong learning, through the experience of U3A, a reality for all third-agers. Our Mission declares our purpose as an organisation and serves as the standard against which we weigh our actions and decisions. It is to: facilitate the growth of the U3A movement; provide support for management and learning in U3As; raise the profile of the U3A movement; promote the benefits of learning in later life through self-help learning.

Barbara was especially enthusiastic in relating how, at the end of 2012 the U3A was asked to provide the speakers for an intergenerational debate in the House of Lords, chaired by the Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza. The House of Lords worked with The English-Speaking Union (ESU) to deliver the debate. The ESU trained three intergenerational teams of students and U3A members to lead on a separate debate option each – covering the involvement of the state, the family and the voluntary sector in providing social care. The teams were assisted by mentor members of the House of Lords, Lord Haskel and Baroness Pitkeathley.

Before ending her talk, Barbara referred to a list of free learning websites which were on a hand-out which each of her audience had been given. There is a wealth of free learning at all levels available on the internet.

Prompted by a member of her audience, Barbara returned to the three statements about her. She asked, in turn, how many people believed the first two. A fair number raised their hands in each case. In fact it was the last which was true and had the fewest who had believed. Barbara had sung with Pavarotti twelve times. She then related how, browsing the Sunday paper, on page 37 she had seen an ad asking, “Do you want to sing with Pavarotti?” She responded and ended up in the The World Festival Choir with nine months of rehearsals ahead of her. The culmination was a performance in Verona of Verdi’s Requiem. It took place at 9.00 in the evening with Princess Diana in the front row. At the appointed hour, with the full moon in view, the Angelus bell rang and the performance started.

Since then, there have been performances in Sweden, the UK, Australia and elsewhere. Barbara finished by encouraging her audience, “If you open your paper and turn to page 37 and there is an invitation to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Go for it. You never know what’s going to happen!”

The next general meeting of Todmorden U3A is at 1.30 pm on Thursday 21 October at Central Methodists, Todmorden. The speaker will be Diana Monahan on Canals and Me.

Report by John Bouttell.

Picture by Mary Findon

Chairman’s Report September 2014

Dear Members
We had busy day on Thursday with the Coffee Morning in the morning and General Meeting in the afternoon.
There were very impressive displays by Special Interest groups which, I am sure, were appreciated by the many members and visitors who attended. Barbara Lewis, U3A National Chairman and our afternoon speaker, arrived unexpectedly early to be at the coffee morning.  She was most impressed by the range and quality of the groups.  One measure of the success of the event is that nine new members joined on Thursday ; two are interested in forming new groups- Beginners French ; Modern Greek. Our Groups Coordinator Gail Allaby will be providing further details in due course.
General Meeting
The meeting in the afternoon was also well attended with 124 present; 111 members and 13 visitors. The visitors included 3 representative of the steering group who are starting a new U3A in Littleborough.
We were pleased to welcome Barbara Lewis, U3A National Chairman, whose subject was “U3A and Me and U3A and You”. Apart from revealing that she once sang with Pavarotti, Barbara set out for us what the U3A movement is about and why it has been ,and continues to be, a great success. She emphasised that it continues to look at ways it can develop further and pointed us to 3 documents which have been published by the national body :
-Going Forward
-More time to Learn
-Learn, laugh and live!
We now have a copy of each of these and will obtain some more so that anyone interested can borrow them. In the meantime they are available on the U3A national web site view them it is necessary to register as a member
New Members
The new members who we are pleased to welcome to U3A are Susan Storr &David Storr; Alison Elliott; Oksana Bilas; Brenda Whiting; Maureen Jones ;
Stephen Parkinson & Violet Parkinson ; Sheila  Graham .
Next Meeting

The next general meeting is on Thursday,October 16th when the speaker will be Diana Monahan who will be talking about “Canals in my life” .Hebden Bridge resident ,Diana has been seen on TV in “Great Canal Journeys”

Next meeting 18 Sept 2014 and coffee morning

General Meeting
The next General Meeting is on Thursday, 18th September when the speaker will be U3A National Chairman, Barbara Lewis. The title of Barbara’s talk is “U3A and Me and U3A and you”. We are promised this will be a wide ranging talk which will provide the opportunity to find out more about what happens in other  U3As and, hopefully stimulate ideas for further developing our range of activities.
The meeting will start as usual at 2.00 pm with the doors being open from 1.30 pm  when coffee/tea and biscuits will be available.
Coffee Morning
On the same day, also at Central Methodists, we are holding a coffee morning from 11.00 am – 1.00 pm.  which will feature displays and information from all Special Interest Groups so providing an opportunity to find out more about what is happening in U3A. This is open to non-members and so if you know anyone who may be interested in joining U3A please invite them. AND IT IS FREE – EVEN THE COFFEE (and tea and orange, I think) AND BISCUITS!

No one to fall back on: August 2014 meeting

Henrietta Bond and chair Keith Coates
Henrietta Bond and chair Keith Coates

Todmorden writer Henrietta Bond declared herself passionate about her subject to her audience at the August general meeting of Todmorden U3A; the plight of young people leaving care – the subtitle of her talk, No-One to Fall Back On. Henrietta proved to be true to her word and started by reading a passage from one of the Young Adult novels she has written about care leavers, Remote Control. One of a number of often moving readings she interspersed her talk with.

She was not a care leaver herself, having grown up in a conventional family and with a mother she could always go home to when she was older. When Henrietta was 26, her mother committed suicide which had a very big impact on her life but by this time she had a wonderful husband and very good friends she could turn to for support. Her situation, she emphasised, was very different from that of most care leavers.

Having been press officer with the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, Henrietta met her first care leaver when she went to work for Fostering Network. She had written what she described as a nice cosy message designed to recruit foster carers. A colleague insisted she present the press release to a group of young people who had left foster care to get their approval. She resisted the idea, convinced that these young people would have no idea of what the media and the public needed to hear. It did not go well. Henrietta found herself faced with three, in her words, “highly articulate smartly turned out young people who had very strong opinions of their own.” They vehemently objected to what one characterised as a message that sounded “as though children are just something you give away.”

Henrietta still resisted but eventually she and the young people agreed on a final press release. So started a path which saw Henrietta working directly with young people in the process of leaving care, helping them use the media more effectively. She continued to help them tell their stories as a media trainer, consultant or a journalist. After a time the young people took over that role and began to train others, leading Henrietta to concentrate on writing.

The subtitle of Henrietta’s talk sums up the situation many care leavers face when they first venture out into the world. In England, around 10,000 16-18 year-olds leave care each year. Surveys show that many feel they leave care too early and often feel isolated and lonely. The quality of support care leavers receive is patchy and their journey through the first decade of adult life is often disrupted, unstable and troubled. They are used to a regulated life and are unlikely to have been given training in budgeting, or how to cope with things like utility bills and rent. Separated from their families by circumstances or rejection, they literally have no one to fall back on.

Henrietta reminded her audience how they sometimes find it frustrating when a utility company makes a mistake. A difficult or unforthcoming person on the other end of the phone can be testing enough for us, but imagine how it is for a 16/17 or 18 year old. As well as having lost touch with their wider families, young people may have a history of abuse or neglect; moved so many times that they had no chance to make lasting friends or make the most of their schooling. Experiences such as these are also very damaging to a young person’s self-esteem. In 2013, 34% of all care leavers were not in education, employment or training at age 19. Compared with 15.5% of 18 year-olds in the general population. Additionally, there is evidence that leaving care takes place at the time when young people’s memories of early trauma are re-awakened – all those events that brought them into care in the first place.

It’s not all doom and gloom, Henrietta assured her audience. In 2000 the Children Leaving Care Act introduced an entitlement to the support of a personal advisor up to the age of 25 for all care leavers in education or who wish to return to education. There is also now an assessment of prime needs such as education, training housing, health, relationships, finance and budgeting; which will comprise a Pathway Plan for the care leaver’s future. There is also a provision called Staying Put – where in theory – young people can stay in care until age 21.

Despite all the disadvantages they face, there are success stories and many young people leaving care go on to build happy lives of fulfilment and satisfaction and more are going on to university.

Henrietta’s readings vividly conveyed a picture of these young people’s lives in ways the above facts and figures cannot. Henrietta closed by urging her listeners to look up the Every Child Matters campaign on the internet and support it, adding her as her final message: if it’s not good enough for your own children then it isn’t good enough for these very vulnerable young people in care.

Henrietta’s website is The other titles she read from are: The Leaving Care Diaries; Brightness of Stars by Lisa Cherry; 51 Moves by Ben Ashcroft; Hackney Child by Hope Daniels and Morag Livingstone


Report by John Bouttell

Picture by Roger Howard

Chairman’s Report August 2014

The guest speaker at Thursday’s meeting was Henrietta Bond who spoke about the problems of young people leaving care. Henrietta has spent many years studying and writing about the problems of care leavers. She clearly feels strongly about the issue and that was reflected in her talk. She gave graphic descriptions of the many problems which are faced by such young people and emphasised that these are self perpetuating problems in that many of those in care have a parent, or parents, who were themselves in care. It was not, however, a picture of unrelieved gloom as she gave examples of young people who have overcome all the obstacles to make a success of their lives.




Membership renewal has been completed and, together with 8 new members who joined on Thursday, we have 345 members – an increase of about 10% on this time last year.


The Committee


A new list of officers and committee members and their contact details is on the website. If you have any comments on any matters please do not hesitate to contact me or any other committee member: ideas for new special interest groups or possibly short would be welcomed as would suggestions for speakers.


Next Meeting


The next meeting is on Thursday, September 18th when we are fortunate to have secured as our speaker, Barbara Lewis, National U3A Chairman whose subject will be “U3A and Me and U3A and You” .


Coffee Morning


On the same day, September 18th, we have a coffee morning which will feature displays and information from all Special Interest Groups so providing an opportunity to find out more about what is happening. This is open to non-members and so if you know anyone who may be interested in joining U3A please invite them. AND IT IS FREE – EVEN THE COFFEE AND BISCUITS!



Keith Coates


Next meeting August 21st 2014

The next General Meeting is on Thursday, August 21st when the speaker will be Henrietta Bond, talking about “No one to fall back on” –The plight of young people leaving care. Read about Henrietta’s extensive experience at . The meeting will start as usual at 2.00 pm with refreshments available from 1.30 pm

Crafty with it

The Craft group enjoying tea and tuition at a recent meeting
The Craft group enjoying tea and tuition at a recent meeting

U3A Todmorden isn’t just about monthly talks and the ever-popular Let’s Go group that tours the area and beyond. We also have more than twenty interest groups meeting regularly.

Like the craft group, for instance, that meets every other Friday at 11 in the Fielden Centre, large and well-appointed enough to host 20-25 people at each meeting. The crafts we try (writes member Jennie Coleman) are very varied, and in the best traditions of the U3A many of our sessions are run by our members sharing their skills, besides occasional outside experts. Recent sessions have included silk painting, making decorated boxes, a session covering basic embroidery stitches and a very stimulating session on the use of colour.  In the near future will be bobbin lace, introduction to spinning and making ‘dammit dolls’!

The group’s very friendly and as well as concentrating on our craft topic we also take the opportunity to share chat over a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit. While there are some skilled crafters in the group many of us are happy beginners in one thing or another; the emphasis is on trying something new and having fun in a very supportive atmosphere.

There is space for more members – do consider joining us! 

Picture by Mary Findon.

A version of this report featured in the Todmorden News on 14 August 2014.


Flight to Recovery: the work of Yorkshire Air Ambulance

Lynne Copley with new U3A Chairman Keith Coates
Lynne Copley with new U3A Chairman Keith Coates

Lynne Copley was a teacher in Huddersfield when someone rushed into the staff room one day to say a young student had been badly hurt. Rushing out, she found that a 14-year-old pupil had somehow dashed into the road, fallen, and a bus’s wheels had driven accidentally over him.

That – as she told the U3A meeting in Todmorden in July – was her first encounter with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. If the service hadn’t been available at the other end of the 999 line, that boy might well have died. Instead, he was whisked off by helicopter to hospital, made a painful but good recovery – and when he came to school, he and his parents asked if the school would raise funds for the air ambulance.

What? Isn’t it part of the NHS? Well, it’s integrated with the NHS, who pay for the paramedics on board, as Lynne explained. But the cost of the ambulance and its infrastructure have to be met from charitable funds. And that cost is enormous: £3.6 million pounds a year. £5 per month keeps it flying one more minute. Everything about helicopters is expensive. How much do your windscreen wipers cost? For an MD902 they’re £43,000!

There are two bases in Yorkshire, one at Nostell Priory near Wakefield and one at RAF Topcliffe near Thirsk. There’s a dedicated ‘air desk’ to take calls from the police. There’s a paid pilot, and volunteer doctors on hand when they can.

But the benefits for the badly-injured are enormous. With speeds of up to 160 mph over gridlocked roads, a helicopter can get any patient to the nearest A and E in ten minutes, or a specialist treatment centre in 15 minutes – well within the ‘golden hour’ medical experts say is vital to start treatment happening to save lives.

That’s why Lynne herself became a volunteer speaker and fundraiser for the service, after experiencing for herself how it saved her student’s life.

As you might imagine, the coffers were well-replenished for Yorkshire Air Ambulance after her talk. And we noted that recycling helps too: there are containers in Tod Morrisons and in Mytholmroyd for unwanted clothing that goes to help YAA.

U3A’s next meeting is on Wednesday 21 August at 1:45 at the Central Methodists Todmorden, when the speaker will be Henrietta Bond, talking about the plight of young people leaving care.

Report by Alan McDonald. Photo by Gail Allaby

Global corruption: a talk to the World Affairs group

Laurence CockcroftA gorgeously sunny afternoon in Todmorden (now how often can you say that?) didn’t deter U3A members from providing a full house at Roomfield Baptist Church for Laurence Cockcroft’s talk to the World Affairs group. Laurence, a Todmordian by birth, confessed he’d never spoken before in his home town about the topic that dominates his work and thinking: global corruption.

Laurence is co-founder of Transparency International (TI), which in 20 years has spread to work in a hundred countries. Each national group investigates its own problems, from rulers who make personal fortunes, to the petty bribery that besets daily life in some countries, to the corporate jiggery-pokery that afflicts countries like ours – as evidenced by the enormous fines our banks have paid in recent years to British and especially American regulators.

Why does corruption matter? Laurence argues that it distorts big projects, makes public service dysfunctional, reinforces poverty, and enables money to flow illicitly from poorer countries to tax havens (‘One step the world could easily take,’ he said in answer to a later question, ‘would be to abolish all those places with these financial arrangements.’)

In many western countries attitudes have changed for the better towards corruption in the last 20 years. TI and brave organisations like Global Witness have helped to make this happen, including TI’s ‘Corruption Perception Index’, updated each year, which, however controversial its measurement techniques, provides a focus for commentary. (In case you were wondering, the UK has fallen from 7th to 19th place in the last five years).

Despite advances like legislation in the USA, and corporate codes of conduct for major contracts, why haven’t things improved more? For one thing, it’s hard to root out systemic small-scale bribery. Dodgy political fund-raising is deeply entrenched in many places. Even the most reputable-seeming companies like Walmart and Rolls Royce have been caught out. Here in the UK, cash for honours, and the scandals of MP’s expenses and police corruption have tainted public trust, while our major banks have lost their reputation for truth and fidelity.

Global CorruptionSo there remain major issues. Currently Laurence highlighted offshore centres, where the UK government seemed about to act decisively but has now drawn back;. He also talked about mis-pricing, formerly known as ‘transfer pricing’, where companies price transfers between countries to get the best tax deals: ‘The international audit profession,’ he said, ‘has done a very bad job in dealing with this.’ Geo-politics also tarnishes our ability to act: much of the West provided financial support to the corrupt Mubarak regime in Egypt, for instance, which made their support for reform equivocal at best.

After a riveting talk, Laurence fielded a variety of informed questions, including deforestation and the Commonwealth, NGOs – no large-scale wastage there, he thought – and privatisation, which he didn’t think in itself necessarily made things worse, ‘though many public private partnership arrangements were effectively corrupt’. The deeper philosophical question about the nature of corruption and what we mean by saying it’s ‘endemic’ in some places was perhaps too complex for a quick exchange on a hot afternoon. TI’s definition of corruption as ‘misuse of entrusted power for personal gain’ was accepted as being as good a working idea as can be hoped for. Finally Melvin Coleman gave a vote of thanks to our warmly-applauded speaker, who had modestly not brought any copies of his book ‘Global Corruption’ along for signature. But many of us are off to buy it now, though perhaps not from online companies with dodgy tax-arrangements!


July 2014 : report by Alan McDonald

Vulcan XH558 trip

vulcanBecause of the on going flying programme, Ernie Rogan has only been able to arrange an autumn date for the visit.

Thursday 9 October for the 11:00 presentation.

Would interested members please contact Ernie via email only, click here to email.

Ernie will try and advise all members who have already been in contact.

This is a one-off, not part of the Let’s Go programme.

Life in La Serenissima

New chairman Keith Coates with speaker Kathryn Ogden
New chairman Keith Coates with speaker Kathryn Ogden

Members at the June general meeting of Todmorden U3A were treated to more than a glimpse of life in Venice for Kathryn Ogden, who winters there every year. Life in La Serenissima – most serene – was the subtitle of her talk.

Kathryn started her talk, illustrated by some fine photographs, with some history of the city.

The marshes on which it is built were settled by people fleeing from the armies of Attila the Hun. The magnificent buildings we associate with Venice were built on wooden piles and have been sinking in recent years. A barrier similar to that across the Thames has been constructed to protect them from the rising sea level.


Historically, the city was the capital of the Republic of Venice ruled over by a Doge and was an important centre of commerce between East and West during the middle ages and the Renaissance. Relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria by Venetian merchants and taken to Venice. The Doge of the time built the original Basilica of St Mark next to his palace.


In 2008, Kathryn took early retirement from sales management due to ill health. She wanted to spend the winter away from Mythomroyd where she lives and as well as having a love of Italy, the attraction of Venice for her was that it is a small city, with no cars. Its situation also gives her access to other places in northern Italy. Kathryn had also read Sally Vickers’ novel, “Miss Garnet’s Angel”. A book inspired by the very old tale of Tobias, who travels to Medea unaware he is accompanied by the Archangel Raphael. Although generally milder than Mytholmroyd, Venice winters often have six weeks of rain and in 2012, the Grand Canal froze for the first time in over 20 years.


Kathryn’s photos were a mix of some of the sites of Venice along with those featuring her in some of her activities. One showed St. Mark’s Clock Tower, which twice a year, at Epiphany and on Ascension Day, the three Magi, led by an angel with a trumpet, emerge from one of the doorways. Others featured scenes painted by Canaletto, who Kathryn said, took some artistic licence, as he would have had to be on a step ladder and hanging off to the left to paint the scene as it appears in his painting. Continuing the artistic theme, Kathryn went to an exhibition of works by Vorticists. Included was one called Mytholmroyd, by the Cleckheaton-born artist Edward Wadsworth. Unable to photograph the actual painting, she was able to take one of a reproduction in the exhibition catalogue.


Venice, Kathryn explained, has only three bridges and many use the traghetti, ferries to take Venetians across the canals or to the islands. There are 17 licenced traghetti and these are a much cheaper way for tourists to have the “gondala experience”, she advised. There are also 24 boats used by the emergency services and when they need go at high speed can sometimes overturn traghetti in the vicinity.


Kathryn’s photos also included shots of food in shops, markets and some of her own servings when entertaining some of the many friends she has made. It was mouth-watering stuff, seasonal produce only and so creatively and colourfully displayed in shops, markets and on the plate. Kathryn related, how she has to ask for the head and feet to be chopped of any chicken she buys as they are always sold complete, as it were, and the butcher’s bemusement at her request. In the Rialto market the fish are priced by size and each size is displayed on a notice board.


Kathryn has made a varied life for herself, making many friends of different nationalities. Each year she appears in pantomime. Her first role was as a fairy in Sleeping Beauty and was again a fairy the following year in Jack and the Beanstalk. Flamboyantly dressed Venetians participate in the Carnivale masked ball. Facial expressions cannot be seen behind the masks, which Kathryn found a bit scary. In addition to all her activities, including outings with Venice Ladies Club, visits to galleries and opera, Kathryn has found herself a job in Wellington, an English language bookshop. She insists she doesn’t allow browsers to get away without buying. Each year she chooses a photo project. This year the subject was washing lines. Kathryn has picked up Italian by being there and now gets together with a woman who wants to improve her English, on a mutual exchange basis. Kathryn rents a different flat each year, at rates comparable with this country. Whilst gas is expensive, the cost of living is similar to that here but transport is cheaper.


Kathryn’s lively talk was much appreciated and may well have prompted some to consider following her example. Her talk was preceded by Todmorden U3A AGM, at which Keith Coates was elected as the new Chair. T


Report by John Bouttell; picture by Roger Howard

Annual General Meeting 19 June 2014: Chairman’s report

Jean Pearson
Jean Pearson

Each month, at our members’ meetings, there have been comprehensive reports about current and future developments. These reports have also been circulated to our members either by email or through the post and they always appear on our website. Since January the Minutes of the monthly Committee meetings have been available on our website, too.

So everyone has been kept informed of everything going on in U3A Todmorden!

As you all know, therefore, U3A Tod continues to flourish – in April there were 370 members – in six years that has grown from the original 40 members! All our Special Interest Groups are well attended and so, too, are our members’ monthly meetings – usually attracting an attendance of over 100 members. We have enjoyed excellent talks by our guest speakers and we have more talks in place up to November with our usual special members’ meeting in December – the newProgramme of Members’ Meetings is available today.

Last August we all mourned the sudden death of our esteemed Chairman – David Cross – who has been very sadly missed. As a result the Committee appointed the Vice-Chairman to act as Chairman until the AGM today.

We enjoyed an extremely well-organised and highly successful U3A Tod Coffee Morning in September when over 100 people came to see our exhibition and we gained many new members as a result. Most of our Convenors attended and they were able to provide information about our Special Interest Groups.

U3A Tod continues to maintain links with our neighbouring U3As in Burnley and Clitheroe and the next meeting of representatives will take place in September – here in Todmorden.

U3A Tod was represented in May at the Todmorden Mayor’s Day and we have been invited to give a short talk about U3A Tod at the AGM of Age UK (Todmorden) in early July.

We are eagerly awaiting the visit to U3A Tod of Barbara Lewis – U3A National Chairman – who will be our guest speaker on the 18th September and we are also planning our annual Coffee Morning and Exhibition on that day as well. In December our Photography Group will again hold an exhibition at the Todmorden Tourist Information Centre.

Keith Coates has now completed his term of Office of two years as Treasurer.

As Secretary Anne Foster has now completed her two years in that Office.

Thank you to Keith and to Anne.

Our Assistant Secretary – Sarah Pennie – has served for two years and is now leaving Committee.

Peter Gibson – has completed three years on Committee as our Database Controller and Technical Officer.

Sue Thornton was co-opted onto Committee last June for one year to provide a link between Committee and speaker-finding.

Ernie Rogan – accepted our invitation to be co-opted back onto Committee last September.

Thank you to Sarah, Peter, Sue and Ernie.

When our new Committee is in place today we can all look forward to the continuing success of U3A Tod.

U3A Todmorden really is much greater than the sum of its parts!

Jean A Pearson – Chairman – U3A Todmorden – 19th June, 2014

Next meeting June 19th 2014

Next Thursday – 19th June, 2014 – we will be holding our Annual General Meeting as you know and our guest speaker will be Kathryn Ogden who will give her talk entitled ‘A Venetian Experience’(Life in La Serenissima).   It will be a great pleasure to welcome Kathryn to U3A Tod and I know we can look forward to an interesting presentation including a fabulous slideshow.
Although the majority of you have renewed your membership for 2014-15 (only £15) there are still quite a few who have not – we urge you to do so promptly.
You can renew by paying at the AGM next week or by post to U3A Todmorden, Sento House, Halifax Road, Todmorden.   OL14 5QG.   All you need to do is enclose your name with your cheque  – we have all your other details already.
If you wish to  set up a Standing Order you can download the form from the U3A Todmorden website and post it to us or, again, you could bring it to the meeting.   We will also have these forms available at our AGM next Thursday.
Please let us know by telephone or email if you have decided not to renew your membership.   We can then ensure that you will not be troubled with any further reminders and also this will mean that U3A Tod will be saving funds by not sending out the magazines etc. to you.
I look forward to seeing you next Thursday.
Best wishes – Jean

Blackwell House (Let’s Go)

43 members of U3A Todmorden Let’s Go group recently travelled to the Lake District to visit one of Britain’s finest Arts & Crafts houses, Blackwell House. The house was designed and built by the architect M H Baillie Scott as a holiday home for the Manchester brewery owner, Sir Edward Holt and his family. With cosy inglenook fireplaces and inviting window seats offering stunning views over Lake Windermere, the rooms contain furniture and objects by many of the leading Arts & Crafts designers and studios. When we visited they were displaying an exhibition of Moorcroft pottery.


The group then travelled to nearby Bowness where some members took advantage of a boat trip on the lake while others meandered around the cafes and shops.


Report by Linda Cook

Chernobyl Children: a heart-warming talk

Mai Chatham gave a very heart-warming talk to those attending the May general meeting of Todmorden University of the Third Age members. She spoke about the work of Chernobyl Children’s Project, set up to support children in Belarus who had been affected by the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. Mai explained that although Chernobyl is in the Ukraine, 70% of the nuclear fallout fell in neighbouring Belarus. It will take 1000 years for decontamination to be complete. She noted that sheep in parts of Wales and the Lake District are still regularly monitored for the effects of fallout from Chernoby.

Food contaminated with caesium has caused many birth defects in affected areas, particularly in Gomel, the nearest city to the Ukraine. Thyroid cancer increased 1000 fold after the accident. Mai reminded her listeners of the conditions in Romanian orphanages the that were revealed after the fall of Ceausescu and said that such conditions prevailed across Eastern Europe and that attitudes to orphans and the disabled are very differentfrom here.

CCP (UK) was started in 1995 following a meeting in Manchester at which Adi Roche, CCP Ireland gave a moving speech about the plight of the children of Belarus. Within days local groups had been formed in Glossop and Littleborough, the latter being the one Mai worked with. Local doctors felt that the children needed to get away for recuperation, so the first support the people of Littleborough and Glossop gave was a four week holiday for a group of children. These, and those that came in the years following, were hosted by local families, who put them up for a fortnight before handing them over to another family for the remaining two week.

The children were housed in pairs so that they had company and someone who spoke their language. In the beginning, Mai said, it was difficult to undertake vetting of families – these were the days before CRB (now DBS) checks – but there was an interpreter in the party to whom the children had access at all times. In the early days there was little done to support the hosts but it got better over the years. DVDs in Russian were brought over for the children to watch and the hosts learned a little Russian themselves. Children in Trouble, a Minsk based charity which supports the families of children with cancer, saw that mothers needed a break as well, so in 1997, the first group of young children in remission came over with their mothers.

Local facilities were used as much as possible when organising activities and outings for the children, and local people, organisations and companies were generous with support in kind. Hollingworth Lake was handily on the doorstep and Todmorden Baths opened its doors early in the morning just for the children. There were lots of barbecues and picnics. Mai said they got very good at scroungin.

Mai went on to talk of the conditions in Belarus and the work CCP has undertaken there. Parents of children with disabilities were encouraged to place them in an orphanage. These were little more than holding institutions and one Mai described as a prison. Bright children had no place there. This particular one now has a brightly coloured room with facilities for arts and crafts. Stimulating and engaging activities were absent from these institutions. Fostering and adoption were also unknown in Belarus, and with training given by CCP, these are now established to the extent that institutions are now beginning to close. A respite day centre has also been set up.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge families have also hosted children but although Glossop, Buxton and other places around the country continue to host, Littleborough folded about two years ago, owing to compassion fatigue and no new families coming forward. There was much appreciation for Mai’s talk from her audience, a considerable number of whom were already aware of the work of CCP. Instead of the usual token of appreciation customarily presented to guest speakers, Mai accepted a donation to CCP. There were also collection boxes for U3A members to make donations. For more information on CCP go to

Report by John Bouttell

Chairman’s report May 2014

Mai Chatham and Jean Pearson
Mai Chatham and Jean Pearson

What a wonderful talk we’ve enjoyed this afternoon by Mai Chatham about the Chernobyl Children’s Project. Mai provided lots of interesting information about the aftermath of that terrible disaster and the National Charity supporting the sufferers. She took questions and clearly many of our members have also been involved in supporting this Charity. Peter Gibson gave the vote of thanks and members’ donations to the charity were quite considerable. Mai was extremely grateful.

Our meeting had started with a slideshow about the July Let’s Go trip to the Bowes Museum and at the end of our meeting Ernie Rogan provided further information, with great enthusiasm, about this trip.

Diane Collins provided samples of English and Spanish bluebells in order to correct some false information which had been provided at last month’s meeting. We also put further information about this on the notice board.

Also on the notice board was a poster advertising the open art studios event in Todmorden this coming weekend. We all now know that Nick Littlewood is opening his studio and we all now know where he lives! Nick can expect many U3A Tod members to visit his home and see his exhibition, I think!

Last Saturday I attended the Mayor’s Day at Tod Town Hall on behalf of U3A Tod and the new Mayor – Councillor Michael Gill – confirmed to me that he will be joining our meeting in July.

Next month it will be our AGM and, if you are on our mailing list, you will be receiving all the paperwork associated with it along with this letter. Anne Foster – our Secretary – is providing the calling papers including the agenda, information about the Committee together with a nominations form. I thanked Joan Sutcliffe and Jo Higgins for all their work this year in sending out our regular monthly news but this month there will be these extra sheets to send to you.

If you are on email you will receive this information directly from Anne.

Our next meeting, which will include the AGM, takes place on Thursday, 19th June, 2014 when our guest speaker will be Kathryn Ogden with her talk entitled ‘A Venetian Experience’ – (Life in La Serenissima). We will not have a bookstall on that day.

Gail Allaby – our Groups Co-ordinator – gave an update on recent developments including a proposed trip to see a Vulcan bomber (organized by Ernie Rogan) and that information about online scams is available from Age UK. Gail has also put this information and contact details on our Facebook page. Now on that page we have a wonderful photograph – taken by Ann Beard – of our Walking Group in action and looks like they’re having lots of fun.

Sincerely – Jean