March’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings to all.

On a glorious St Patrick’s day 102 members and 10 visitors attended our March meeting. U3A Todmorden has now reached the milestone figure of 500 members, in just eight years of activity. However, to sustain this growth, we will require to fill two vacancies on the committee at our forthcoming AGM: a potential Vice Chair and the post of Membership Secretary. Margaret Gunnill has to resign because of a medical condition. All members interested in these positions, supporting and maintaining U3A Todmorden, should contact any committee member.


Pam Booth and Ruth Goldthorpe gave a presentation about this organisation and made an appeal for new Trustees to join.

Short Talk

We had a fascinating talk by Hamish Willis about the benefits of cross country walking. Using poles, in the correct manner, after some training, participants would enjoy a better posture, be more active and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Gail Allaby will, for our April members’ meeting, commence a list for members who may be interested in taking up this activity. This list will then be passed on to Hamish. This group would not be part of U3A Todmorden.

Main Speaker

Penny Dean OBE gave a memorable, humorous, positive and uplifting presentation about her life. Penny was born with dwarfism into a tall family: all her siblings are over 6ft. Her mother always encouraged her to be positive and told her she could be whatever she wanted to be. Penny said she met some discrimination at Secondary school, just in her formative years. Visiting a circus, Penny met Arthur, also a dwarf, who was appearing as a clown. Encouraged by her sister, Penny began to write to Arthur and then met him whenever the circus appeared close by. The relationship took its course and Penny and Arthur were married when still quite young. Their first child died at birth, but they have been able to continue and now have three children; two daughters who have excellent careers, and a son: Penny’s description of him raised many laughs.

23 years ago Penny and Arthur started a charity: the Dwarf Sports Association. The Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds is a patron of their charity. Two years ago Penny and Arthur received OBEs from Prince Charles. Penny’s comments were that they were probably the only persons to whom Prince Charles had to bow!! The photograph explained everything.

Despite all the humour Penny described problems associated with dwarfism. The most upsetting, to the audience, were the descriptions of families who have rejected infants, because they have been born as dwarfs. However, Penny has been able to arrange adoption of 15 of these babies into families of both small and normal size.

At the end of the presentation, members were left with the positivity of Penny’s attitude to life and that, perhaps, we should all examine our prejudices.

News Letter

This will be published in May, so Jean Pearson and Christine Richmond are ready to receive snippets of information about any group or matters of interest to all members. I would encourage all convenors and indeed all members to contact Jean at 01706813933 or

The committee thank everyone for their attendance and look forward to seeing even more members at our next meeting, which will be on Thursday 21 April at Central Methodist Church at 2.00pm, when our speaker will be Jane Shepherd and her subject will be “My life as a cabbage – from Polio to TV presenting and beyond”.

Keith Coates, our Chairman, is on holiday and this report was compiled by Ernie Rogan, Vice Chairman.

February’s Monthly Meeting

Dear Members,

We had another well attended meeting at Central Methodists on Thursday last, the 17th February; 122 members and 10 visitors were present. Five new members were recruited, bringing our total membership to 440.

Short Talk

The meeting started with a short presentation by Peter Gibson about Todmorden Talking Newspaper which provides an invaluable service for blind and partially sighted people. Peter is one of several U3A members who give their time to this service. Peter asked that anyone who knows a blind or partially sighted person who may benefit should draw their attention to this free service. He also pointed out that there are articles/features which may well be of interest to a wider audience. Further information and contact details can be found on this web site.

Main Speaker

The main speaker on Thursday was Professor Ian Barclay, who gave a fascinating talk about his experience of exploring the Ice Caves which were found high in the Pyrenees by the French explorer Norbert Casternet in 1926. Casternet explored the caves in detail in 1950 with his two daughters. It was extraordinary to see the “casual” clothing worn by Casternat and his daughters in the extreme conditions which they faced, and to hear of the risks they took in entering unknown caves. Ian’s expedition with his colleagues some 12 years later was in comparison well-equipped.

The presentation covered not only the exploration of the caves but also the geology of the Pyrenees (and an alternative explanation of how Hercules built the Pyrenees from rocks from the surrounding area).

Ian’s clear and entertaining presentation was enhanced by exceptional photographs and was greatly appreciated.

Science Group – Open Meeting

On Monday, March 21st the Science Group are holding a special meeting when Professor Katherine Morris, Manchester University, will be speaking about “Radio Active Waste”. The meeting, which is open to all U3A members, will be at Central Methodists, Todmorden, and will start at There will be a charge of £1 to cover the cost of room hire.

U3A Todmorden Newsletter

The Newsletter which was published last November was well received by members and it has been decided to produce another one, to be circulated in May. Jean Pearson and Christine Richmond will again be responsible for the production. We hope that members will contribute items to the Newsletter. They may be items of information which may be of interest to the wider membership; others may wish to publish a poetic gem; or you may have comments on what U3A Tod is doing or not doing! If you have any such item of interest please contact Jean Pearson – 01706 813933 – email.

Tod in Bloom Appeal

The Todmorden in Bloom group is seeking volunteers for a community litter picking project which they are planning for March 20th to 22nd. Further details and contact information to follow.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is on Thursday March 17th, when Penny Dean will be speaking about her experience of being “Short in a Tall Person’s World”

Keith Coates

German Group

Andy Hollis;
Weekly, Tuesday afternoons, 2.00 – 4.00pm, Community Room, Todmorden Fire Station

Andy Hollis;
Weekly, Tuesday afternoons, 2.00 – 4.00pm, Community Room, Todmorden Fire Station


The reason for my absence on 29 May 2018 was that, together with 3 other members of the group, I joined the town twinning trip to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our ‘partnership’. It was a fantastic experience, something to talk about in the subsequent U3A session, before returning to the textbook.

       walking                              two mayors

One particular high spot was Kate Evans’s winning German poetry competition from last January being read out loud by the Buergermeister of Bramsche in front of about 200 people. The Happy Anniversary card it was in showed a black sheep and a white sheep having a friendly tussle. A bit like Yorkshire and Lancashire…

inside the castle                             view



Vicky Jackson  hands over to Andy Hollis

Sadly we said a very fond farewell to Vicky Jackson who is moving from the area. The vacancy for a new convenor has not arisen as Vicky managed to find a replacement, so I don’t have to do anything accept pass on thanks to Vicky and welcome Andy Hollis.

The picture shows how one member shared her nation’s American Independence Day celebrations by bringing in a special cake.

One of our sessions was marked by American Independence Day celebrations as one member shared her national day with the group by bringing in a delicious cake decorated as the Stars and Stripes.



Challenging subordinating conjunctions and the use of sequencing words have enabled members to form longer and more complex sentences.


French Improvers (Wednesday Group)

Gill Radford; 01422 886021;

I have decided to stop convening the Wednesday French Improvers group.

I will be delighted to welcome you to the Monday class instead if you are available. Provisional date to restart French Improvers Group One is Monday 11th September.

Gill Radford; 01422 886021;

I have decided to stop convening the Wednesday French Improvers group.

I will be delighted to welcome you to the Monday class instead if you are available. Provisional date to restart French Improvers Group One is Monday 11th September.

Please could you amend your diaries accordingly.

As participants of course have other commitments it has meant that sometimes the group has been running with only three attendees. Whilst very pleasant with such amiable language learners I have come to realise I can no longer justify running two groups.


Tablet and ipad Club

Ian Mcadie;  07398682519; (Available to All Members)
First Tuesday in the month. 11.00am – 12.30, Weatherspoons 

Ian Mcadie;  07398682519;

(Available to All Members)
First Tuesday in the month. 11.00am – 12.30, Weatherspoons 

Please use the upstairs room and treat yourself to coffee or tea as we use the room free of charge.


20180206_124953        20180206_125013

The iPad group continues to attract new members even though the attendance at each meeting is usually small. I continue with the help Myrna and Denise to operate a “surgery” style of group. When a member has the information they want they tend not to attend again.

January’s Monthly Meeting

Dear Members

We got off to a good start with a full house for our first meeting of 2016.

There was a short talk from Daniel Jessop, Volunteer and Events Coordinator at Calderdale Council. Daniel,who has visited us before to talk about the development of the heritage centre at the Town Hall, invited members to take advantage of the opportunities to have a guided tour of the Town Hall and also asked if there are any members who are interested in volunteering as guides (there already U3A members involved in this role) or have memories of the Town Hall which they would like to share. For further information you can contact Daniel on 01706 548105 or 07912 891370 or visit the following web sites:

Visit Calderdale page on Todmorden Town Hall; Virtual Tour of Todmorden Town Hall

The main speaker was Professor Derek Scott, School of Music, Leeds University, whose subject was “Music and Orientalism”. This was a fascinating, informative and very entertaining presentation about the ways (sometimes bizarre ways) in which Western Music has attempted to portray or suggest “orientals”, which in effect meant anything foreign, whether from Spain, Turkey, Egypt, India, or China and Japan. His talk ranged over Mozart, Berlioz, Puccini (and many others including a recording of Rudolph Valentino) through to Chu Chin Chow, Miss Saigon, and, finally, the Pogues. His talk was illustrated not only with recordings, but by Professor Scott’s fine singing voice; and it was, I think, the first time that the grand piano has been used at one of our meetings.

I know from comments which I heard that the talk was much appreciated. Here are the musical scales to which Professor Scott referred in his talk.

Town Twinning Visit to Germany

The Town Twinning Association have some places available on their visit to Bramsche at the end of May and have asked if any U3A members would be interested in joining them on the visit. Details and contact information.

Keith Coates

December’s Monthly Meeting

Dear Members

On Thursday 17th December we had our last monthly meeting of 2015. It was, as all the year’s meetings have been, well attended.

Refreshments, including the much appreciated “non-alcoholic punch”, were provided by Alison Greenwood and her helpers. We must thank Alison not only for the refreshments on Thursday but for providing them throughout the year.

We must thank Myrna Beet and her team for organising the quiz, which was closely contested. So closely contested that four teams finished with the same score (after an objection to one answer, which was overruled). The winners were decided by the time honoured method of drawing lots.

Afterwards there was a presentation by Andrew Gill (The Lanternist). Andrew, who is a member of Burnley U3A, was making a return visit; he had been guest speaker nearly 3 years ago. He gave us another fascinating and amusing show of Victorian and Edwardian slides which was greatly enjoyed.

The next meeting is on Thursday, January 21st, when Professor Derek Scott will be speaking about “Music and Orientalism”.

I look forward to seeing you then.

In the meantime I trust that you have a Happy Christmas and New Year.

Kind Regards
Keith Coates

Monthly Meeting: Did I See Marilyn?

Last Thursday’s meeting was again well attended in spite of the appalling weather. Our speaker was Allan Stuttard whose subject was advertised as “From Tod to Korea and Back. National Service Remembered”. He caused me some consternation when he arrived and said that wasn’t the title of his talk – it was to be “Did I see Marilyn?”. However, despite the change of title, his talk was about his experiences as a young national serviceman who made his first trip abroad when he was sent to Korea towards the end of what he described as the “forgotten war” which claimed many British lives including two from Todmorden.

As he said, his 5 week “cruise” to Korea would cost a fortune now but a modern cruise liner is probably more comfortable than his troop ship. Alan’s humorous reflections on national service and his time in Korea and Hong Kong (we learned that his presence there on the border of Hong Kong prevented a Chinese invasion – possibly) were enjoyed and appreciated. He revealed that the answer to the question “Did I see Marilyn” was yes – he saw from the back of a huge audience of American soldiers – so far back that he couldn’t be certain that he had seen Marilyn Monroe until he saw a photograph that confirmed it was her.

Kind Regards
Keith Coates

Monthly Meeting: Shibden Hall

The meeting on October 15th was well attended with 127 present (126 members and one visitor). Our speaker, Pat Osborne, presented an illuminating insight into the history of Shibden Hall and particularly the life of its most ‘notorious’ owner, Anne Lister. The presentation was enlivened by Pat’s dry sense of humour. One interesting fact which emerged was the reason that homosexuality was illegal but not lesbianism in the nineteenth century. This was apparently because nobody was prepared to explain lesbianism to Queen Victoria. I suspect that members of the audience were inspired to learn more about Anne Lister with one inquiring about the availability of translations of her coded diaries.


Last month I told you about our U3A Tod Newsletter which will be issued in November. If you have any items for inclusion please contact Jean Pearson – 01706 813933 or by email to

Book Sales

You may have noticed that we did not have the usual sale of second hand books on Thursday. It has been decided that we should stop such sales. With the increasing numbers now attending the meetings we need to have more space for seats, and in any event there has been a major fall in the number of books purchased. Also there is an increasing problem of storing the books, which are accumulating. We will be disposing of the books by giving them to some Charity shops who do sell second hand books.

Report by Chairman Keith Coates

Next Meeting Thursday, 17th April

Our April members’ meeting will take place from 1.30 pm at the Central Methodists Hall on Thursday, 17th April, 2014.   Nick Littlewood has designed a new poster to publicise this meeting. I do hope you like it.
It will be a pleasure to welcome Dave Wilson as our guest speaker. Dave is the Area Countryside Officer for the Upper Calder Valley. His presentation is titled ‘The Protection of our Rich and Natural Environment’ – the work of the Calderdale Countryside Service.
I do look forward to welcoming Dave to our meeting and I hope he enjoys his afternoon with us.
Alison Greenwood needs more volunteers with the refreshments at our meeting in June. Please contact Alison if you are able to help us or have a word with her at our meeting next week.
I need to remind you, yet again, that we are in great need of new Committee members – especially a Chairperson and a leader of the speaker-finders team. Without these key members on Committee our organisation will cease to function.   U3A Todmorden provides so much pleasure for our 360 members I do hope you will consider stepping up to make a contribution to the work of the Committee.
I look forward to our meeting next Thursday.
Sincerely – Jean
(Jean A Pearson – Chairman – U3A Todmorden)