Pathways Films – The Stuff of Legend

January 17th, 2019 –a sad day for Calderdale for our speakers, Peter Thornton and Ray Riches, the Powell and Pressburger of the Calder Valley, announced their retirement from film-making.

But not before they had given themselves a very fine send-off and U3A Todmorden a double act worth a guinea a minute.

Peter remarked that they usually got decent audiences because people had heard how many cock-ups they made. By the end of the afternoon, it was clear what they really meant was they were masters of badinage, anecdote and bonhomie.

What more would you expect from men whose walks through, round and over the valleys, hills and moors of  Calderdale, be they rural-urban or urban-rural, habitually begin with a toasted tea-cake and end with a pint?

Since 2000 when they produced their seminal ‘A Walk on t’Cut’ followed the next year by the equally aptly named ‘A Walk on t’Long Cut’, they have made a range of local films.

These have included, randomly, the Brontes, the Mary Towneley Loop, Halifax, the Luddenden Valley, Shibden, and Hebden Bridge.  And, of course, Hardcastle Crags (home of the tongue-twistingly difficult ‘Great Northern Hairy’ – and aggressive – ‘Wood Ant’).


Their last outing with the camera encompassed Ray’s beloved Heptonstall and Colden in which they highlight empty farmsteads, Barbara Miskin’s pottery, Colden village, Lumb Bank, Dawson City, bellringing and the famous Pace Egg Play – cue Ray’s revival of his role as St George.

Memorable Thornton and Riches lines might include Ray’s remark about taking direction from the camera man on an obscure track on the way to Rishworth: ‘Go through them brambles, he said’. And May’s Aladdin’s Cave in Colden was ‘the smallest supermarket in the world’.

They tried to elicit the secret of black pudding making from a master pudding maker. The reply was a cracker of Lancashire humour: ‘I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.’ (And doubtless that would have resulted in a vintage pud.)

Explaining to a gentleman in Luddenden that they were making a film about the valley, their interlocutor was dumbfounded. ‘Why?’ he said.

All the same, a good question.

Simple answer. If you are making films about then and now, your own films become the then of the future and contribute to the richness of Calderdale’s local history, identity and self-belief. Not much could be more important.

Ray and Peter are two men who have richly filled their days in a land they love. The Valley will, surely, want to congratulate them on and thank them for their valuable, life-enhancing work, and wish them a happy ‘retirement’ from the camera.

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, February 21st, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.

Our speaker will be Philip Caine whose topic will be ‘From Barrow to Baghdad and Back’.                       

Our contact details are (website),, or 01422 886021 (phone).

Christmas Music and a Cracking Quiz

U3A Todmorden’s Christmas meeting was well served by local talent.

Dee Ashworth conducted the Todmorden Community Adult Learners Brass Band in a fine medley of tunes.


This was TCALBB’s first outing. They more than rose to the occasion, belting out ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and rolling through ‘Out and About’, before unleashing the B flat bass on the bass line of ‘Dr Who’.

This was followed  by the lively ‘Hoe-Down’ and the rhythmically mellow ‘Calypso Crazy’ before winding up with ‘Bass Runner’ and ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’.

The concert was fine example of what U3A is all about: ‘inclusion, enjoyment and pursuing interests together’.  Congratulations to all participants, and to the patience and encouragement of their conductor!


Those who were inspired can seize the hour and contact Todmorden Community Brass Band to get themselves going. The Five Note Band extends a warm welcome to trainee musicians of all ages.


The synergy of the musicians was then translated to impromptu quiz groups who were set fiendish seasonal questions by Myrna Beet of the Quiz Group.


If you knew who set up the first nativity scene in 1223 and where, or what Kenyans prefer to have for dinner on Christmas day, or what the last line of ‘Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is, then this was the moment for you to shine.


Confusion was genially aroused by the question ‘In which Eastern European country do Killantzaroi (goblins) visit homes between Christmas and Epiphany?’


The answer is ‘Greece’. But many of us were stuck in the political past, thinking Greece was a ‘Western’ country, when in fact we were being asked about a geographical constant.


The final section was based on one of the rounds in ‘Only Connect’ – completing a sequence. Try these!


Stop sign, 50p coin, honeycomb and …..?


Drummers, Lords, Maids and …..?


Thorn, shout, seat and …..?


The winners of the quiz were Marion Kershaw, Brenda and Jim Botten, Christine Morton and Emily Watnick, a veteran of the ‘Only Connect’ competitors, The Cosmopolitans.  Fine play from all the team.


Gill Radford, Chair of U3A Todmorden, made several announcements, including the pleasing news that four members had volunteered themselves for committee work.


Gill also hoped that Todmorden might produce its own Bake Off contestant. Any takers?


U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, January 17th, 2019  in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.


We will be welcoming the return of Ray Riches and Peter Thornton who will be talking about ‘Pathways and Film Production’.


Our contact details are (website),

(email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Teazles and Teazlemen – Robert McMillan in Todmorden

Before November 15th, few members of U3A Tod would have known that a teazle features in crests on the Clothworkers’ Building at Leeds University and in the decorations of Rochdale Town Hall’s council chamber.

And not many of us would have known what a teazle is.

By the end of Robert McMillan’s knowledgeable, detailed and entertaining talk we certainly did.

So, what’s a teazle? First, you must distinguish between the common teazle and the Fuller’s teazle. It’s the latter you need for raising the nap in clothmaking – it’s spikier and hardier.

The next thing is what is a fuller? He was the bloke who trampled newly woven cloth in stale urine to help clean, degrease and thicken the cloth.

After this trampling, the fuller raised the nap on the cloth by hand using teazles mounted on a handle. Then one or more shearmen trimmed the nap for a fine finish.

Later this ‘teasing’ process was mechanized. Specialist workers – ‘setters’ – mounted the teazles onto ‘rods’ that they inserted into a ‘gig’, a spinning drum across which the unteased cloth was passed.

Setters wore leather gloves to stop their hands being ripped to shreds. And indeed, spent teazles were used for the first passing of the cloth: fresh teazles are so sharp they rip new cloth.

By this time, the significance of the teazle to our local history was plain.  But it was also significant to Somerset’s history too. In Somerset, teazles were an 18th and 19th century commercial crop.

Planted by broadcasting, the teazles were harvested in the plant’s second year.

A maker-up then bunched the teazle stems in tens. The bunches were tied onto a stock to produce a ‘stave’. These staves were then transported to Yorkshire where sales were made, for example, in pub yards in Leeds.

Huddersfield Cloth Hall was also a teazle trading centre. John Briggs advertised himself as selling ‘Foreign and English Teazles’ in Huddersfield, Milnes Bridge and Linthwaite.

Nowadays, teazles are still used in woollen cloth manufacture and are imported mostly from Navarre in Spain. They are available from Border Technologies in Cleckheaton.

Robert’s talk goes to show that even the most unexpected subject is interesting when presented with well-organised, knowledgeable enthusiasm. Local museums can expect a flurry of interest from U3A Tod members!

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, December 20th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.

This is our Christmas meeting when we will enjoy Myrna Beet’s annual quiz and listen to Brass Band music provided by the Todmorden Community Brass Adult Learners’ Band.

Our contact details are (website),, or 01422 886021 (phone).

Philosophy Walks

Some say they do their best thinking when walking. Philosophy Group members and friends are putting this notion to the test for the third time on Friday 21 December when they walk from Hebden Bridge along the canal to Tod to finish in The Pub. (Your reporter can feel a Monty Python song coming on.)

These walks are the brainchild of group member Alan McDonald, who is studying for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Manchester and is also a member of Tod Walkers, who don’t usually lead or organise walks directly, but made an exception for philosophical walks as part of the Festival of Ideas.

For each of the first two, Alan successfully inveigled a proper philosopher from the Uni to join us and put us through our paces with a set topic to discuss on the way.

The first took place on the 21 June, the evening of the solstice, a deliberate choice on the part of Alan. The conversations centred on the philosophy of walking and what it means to do things together. We started at the Unitarian Church, went uphill to Longfield Equestrian Centre and Long Hey Lane, then left along the Calderdale Way, returning down through the woods and on to Oldroyd Road to the canal towpath, finishing in The Pub in Brook Street in Tod town centre to continue discussions there.

For our second one, which took place on Saturday 22 September, to coincide with the equinox, the subject was: ‘Nature and the Good Life’.We were joined by practising philosopher Dr Paul Knights, who lives in the Upper Calder Valley, and does postdoctoral research as a British Academy Fellow at the University of Manchester.  Here’s his outline of some things we talked about as we walked, reflected and drank:
What is the good life for a human? What role does nature have in our well-being? How can natural landscapes best be managed to contribute to us living good lives?
During this walk we were invited to reflect on the good life and the role of nature in our well-being. Our walk through the landscape prompted reflection; landscapes such as the South Pennines are increasingly the focus of policy demands to deliver public goods – contributions to societal well-being – in return for the public subsidies received by land managers. In addition to food from livestock farming, natural landscapes will be expected to deliver improved flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and opportunities for recreation. Underpinning this policy shift is the assumption that changes to the way natural landscapes are managed can benefit people – improve their lives – in a range of ways. This will change both the way the landscape looks, and how we relate to it. As we walked through the landscape, we were invited to think about the variety of ways our environment contributes to our well-being, and in doing so engage with that most ancient of philosophical questions: what is it to live a good life?

The linear walk began at the entrance to the Top Brink car park on Lumbutts Road at 10:30 a.m.  We strolled along the ridge and descended eventually to the canal towpath and ended with more philosophical chat in the pub called The Pub (3 Brook St, Tod, OL14 5AJ).

The next walk will be on the equinox, Friday 21 December, this time a walk along the canal from Hebden Bridge, again finishing in The Pub.

November 2018: Chairman’s Report

Chairman Gill Radford and speaker Robert McMillan
Chairman Gill Radford and speaker Robert McMillan

We started our meeting with a very short EGM to confirm Peter Carrigan as Vice Chair of U3A Todmorden.   Peter will continue to be our Speaker Finder so the need for someone to join his team & share the load is more pertinent. On behalf of U3A Todmorden, Committee and members, thank you very much Peter for volunteering to take on this highly significant role, it means our future is safe for a few more years at least.

 More and more of you are hearing about Beacon. It is the name of a new, central computer system and we have successfully completed or almost completed the migration of our administration records to this national system. We have also created some U3A Todmorden e-mail addresses so that Committee members don’t have to use their personal addresses.  We just need you to make sure you continue to receive U3A emails, by adding the new contact information to your address book or safe senders list. Those with email should already have received a message giving you the addresses.

Whilst there are bound to be some teething problems with any new system I am pleased the Committee is managing to adopt and adapt with a general feeling of optimism. When we are confident in our use of it there will be meetings, initially for Convenors of our Special Interest Groups, to instruct how to use the system.

As a consequence, this does mean that Peter Gibson, who not only set up the original administration system but who has been responsible for maintaining and responding to problems as they arose now considers himself redundant. Whilst Peter has made it clear that he does not want thanking, I feel it would be most remiss of us if we didn’t acknowledge all the time, work & effort that Peter has tirelessly committed to this on our behalf.

I would also like to thank the publicity team whose efforts have been recognised by another U3A in Yorkshire due to their leaflet promoting U3a Todmorden being very much admired at an Art Appreciation Meeting recently. Thank you Nick, Ant, John, Alan & Gail for your work in encouraging retired and semi retired people to join us.

I have another thank you this time to one of our newest members. Janet Rawlinson who only joined us in July not only impressed the North West Region Trustee, Gill Russell, with her enthusiasm for U3A but she has volunteered to take on the role of Almoner for us. This means that should members be ill or in need of sympathy, please contact Janet  with the details and we can make sure to send an appropriate card from the membership.

Thank you everyone for pulling together. It means a lot.

Robert McMillan was our speaker this month and gave a most detailed and fascinating talk about Teasels used in the Woollen Industry and The Teaselmen who grew and supplied them. Millions of teasels per year were used in the process of finishing woollen cloth and the proceeds from this business were used to finance the building of many magnificent local buildings such as Todmorden and Rochdale Town Halls. For those who doubt the importance of the (no longer humble) teasel, do look out for the Cloth workers Coat of Arms and emblems carved into University of Leeds Textile Department where the teasel can be seen. Next month’s meeting will take place on 20th December when we will be entertained by  Brass Band music and our traditional Christmas Quiz, courtesy of Myrna and the Quiz Group.

I know not whether Ernie has pinched Alison’s mulled wine recipe for us to taste but no doubt we will have some festive delights to remind us that Christmas by then is almost upon us.

Gill Radford

Rhetoric – Convenient Claptrap for the Conman?

Robert and Susan Cockroft and Gill Radford

Thursday, October 18th saw U3A Todmorden enjoying a talk about rhetoric from Robert Cockcroft, a speaker not unlearned in this dark art.

Robert started by eliciting the audience’s response to rhetoric. We were not positive – groans, and a strong sense that it is used by politicians to pontificate and deceive.

There was no attempt to deny this opinion which Robert illustrated with a Trumpian tweet. On 10th October, the POTUS declared it was FAKE NEWS that 92% of news stories about him on two television channels were negative.

‘Fake news’ is, of course, the phrase that provokes, rhetorically, the response the tweeter wants among his supporters. And that, Robert said, is the purpose of rhetoric: to win people’s support.

Rather than explore all the tropes of rhetoric, Robert concentrated on the style and structure of successful persuasive speaking.

Demosthenes, for example, said that what mattered most for an orator was ‘Delivery, delivery, delivery’ (thus demonstrating his mastery of epizeuxis). ‘Delivery’ involved not only verbal eloquence, but gesture and ‘toga management’.

Aristotle also had a check list for a good speaker: will the audience perceive you as a morally good person, is your speech full of practical wisdom and goodwill, and have you worked out how to raise your audience’s emotions by deploying gesture and sensory imagery?

And make sure you have constructed your argument well so that it will be accepted as reasonable.

Introduce yourself; engage the audience’s goodwill; explain why you feel moved to speak; make it clear what the issue to be considered is, and your position on it; and indicate how your argument will be organised.

Then it is a simple matter of making your case with proofs and taking time to undermine what you anticipate will be the arguments of other speakers. Then conclude.

Robert took pleasure in presenting some local instances of everyday rhetoric. Susan Cockcroft read from a letter Robert’s grandmother, Sarah Gaukroger, had written to his grandfather, firmly putting him in his place.

She assured him that if he thought he could ‘have any woman for the asking [she] would have him remember they don’t all want you that looks at you.’ A cracking put-down.

And John Fielden during the Factory Act debates, was a dab hand at the put-down, too. He concluded one speech with a swipe at the ‘political economists’ who, while happy to see England ‘ “the workshop of the world,” …would not scruple to make her also the slaughter-house of Mammon’.

Robert mentioned that the rhetorician should cultivate the ‘pleasurable attention’ of the audience. Congratulations and thanks to him for living up to his own tenets!

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, November 15th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.

Our guest speaker will be Robert McMillan whose subject is ‘Teazels and Teazelmen’.

Our contact details are (website), (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Written by Anthony Peter.  Photo by Roger Howard

October 2018 meeting: report from the Chair

Robert and Susan Cockroft and Gill Radford

On such a lovely day I’m delighted to announce I have some good news. Last month I encouraged you to consider volunteering to help U3A Todmorden in one way or another, play to your strengths, think about what you enjoy or at the very least, be prepared to admit that there might be a role you could take on to help make sure U3A Tod can continue functioning hopefully towards our 20th anniversary.

I can tell you now that our current Speaker Finder Peter Carrigan has volunteered to take on the role of Vice Chair. I believe the correct terminology is that I give notice to our members that Peter Carrigan will become Vice Chairman of U3A Todmorden and the process states that at the beginning of the November’s Monthly Meeting we will hold a short EGM to confirm his appointment.

Thank you so much Peter this hopefully means, that I am no longer at risk of becoming the last ever Chair of U3A Tod! I do say hopefully because generally speaking the Vice Chair does metamorphose into the Chair…. But not always. My fingers are most definitely crossed that Peter enjoys the experience and will be standing here, in my shoes in 2 years time.

This would mean of course that we need a new Speaker finder to replace Peter, and consequently there is a need to quickly appoint a shadow Speaker Finder to learn the ropes. Indeed we are looking for a few people to shadow the committee and learn how we operate.

We will need a potential Treasurer to shadow and replace Emily Watnick, an Assistant Membership Secretary to support Brenda Botten. I’m toying with the idea of setting up a Special Events group – certainly we need a sub- committee to spend time organising 2019 Christmas’ meeting, maybe a Christmas lunch at a venue large enough to invite more members than the Lunch Club does at the moment, a Convenors lunch, maybe a coffee morning for new members too at some point.

I’d also like to encourage a small team of people to help welcome new members and introduce them to those with similar interests. Certainly we can be a daunting lot when you’re the new face looking for some friendly ones and the membership secretary, with the best will in the world has to busy herself explaining the documents to be filled in to another potential new member.

You will have noticed that Ernie has taken on the job of Refreshments co-ordinator and would like members to indicate which month they are available to set up serve and clear away the tea and coffees. Please do not leave this afternoon without having a word with him.

Certainly we need to tap into our membership to find the next generation of committee members and group leaders. So please, come on down!

Groups Co-ordinator Gail Allaby reports that both the proposed Shakespeare Group and Creative Writing Group 2 will hopefully start in the New Year, when she has managed to secure replacement convenors. In addition members need to know that The Old English Group is now full.

The last task before welcoming Robert Cockcroft was to announce the winner of the Anniversary Survey.  Susan Cockcroft drew John White’s name from the hat and he was presented with a box of Heroes. In John’s words, he can no longer say he never wins anything!

Robert Cockcroft , the speaker this afternoon, gave  his talk, ’What’s wrong with rhetoric’. This proved to be a most enlightening discussion about the persuasive art of discourse with examples from politicians and philanthropists both historical and modern. It was especially interesting to see the presentation and defence of argument in the letters between Robert’s grandparents during their courtship when it was certainly not apparent that their forthcoming marriage would actually take place! I quickly discovered that my own understanding of rhetoric was pretty much limited to the concept of a rhetorical question and will be making time to have a look at Robert and Susan’s book,’ Persuading people, an introduction to rhetoric’.

Please look out for the U3A report written by Ant Peter in the local press and on this website.

Gill Radford

Have Guitar, Will Travel – to the USSR

We were delighted to welcome back Neil Smith to U3A Todmorden on Thursday, September 20th to talk about his adventures with his guitar ‘Beyond the Iron Curtain’ in the 1980s and early 1990s.

These were the days before perestroika and the fall of the Berlin Wall, when Article 58 was still in force.

For an innocent guitar-player abroad, getting along could be difficult, especially for one whose past included working as a rocket scientist in the UK.

He was reminded of this by a very angry – and startlingly well informed – immigration official on entering Russia for the first time.

But Neil began by telling us about the vastness of Russia. It embraces 11 time zones, where temperatures can plummet to -60 in the north, and there are camels and deserts in the south.

Forests are huge, and on one occasion a coach trip Neil had taken got lost in one. The party found themselves seeking directions from an unfriendly rifle-wielding, sword-carrying non-Russian–speaking Inuit reindeer hunter.

An 11,000 km highway stretches across the country from St Petersburg to Vladivostok. And you don’t stay out at night in Siberia, where if you hear gunshots it’s probably just people shooting bears.

In fact everything about Russia struck Neil as extraordinary and vast, including the fact that the country lost 35,000,000 men and women in WW2.

Neil had a few brushes with authority. One involved finding that his visa had expired. His papers were confiscated and then returned. But by then, he was officially a criminal.

And the simple tourist act of taking a photo could easily be met by a ‘Niet photo’, and a demand for the film. The solution to this was to have a stock of cheap Russian film in your pocket, and to offer one pretending it was from the camera.

But not all was bewilderingly unexpected. Neil’s guides were good company and Neil enjoyed the Russian sense of humour.

For example, a man queuing for vodka is so frustrated by the wait, he sets off to kill Gorbachev.

A few hours later he returns to his friend in the vodka queue.

‘Did you kill him?’ asks his friend. ‘No,’ he replies. ‘That queue was even longer.’

And we were entertained also by Neil’s nifty guitar playing which included ‘Dark Eyes’ (a Russian standard), and tunes which we recognised as ‘The Carnival Is Over’ and ‘Those were the Days’ which started life in Russia.

Our thanks to Neil for another amusing and eye-opening afternoon.

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, October 18th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden.

Our guest speaker will be Robert Cockcroft. On a former visit, Robert talked to us about and read from his poetry collection, ‘Lament for the Mills’. This time he will be considering ‘What’s Wrong with Rhetoric?’

Our contact details are (website), (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Report by Anthony Peter

August monthly meeting

Members at the meeting this afternoon enjoyed an informative and amusing talk by David Bell on some aspects of medical treatment in the seventeenth century. David, with a wide variety of visual aids including a blow-up doll dressed as Samuel Pepys, described the diagnostic methods of doctors at this time, and their treatments based on the “doctrine of signatures”, pointing out that in some cases later scientific knowledge had proved these treatments to be helpful. He went on to describe in gruesome detail the operation Pepys underwent for the removal of a bladder stone, an operation which Pepys survived.

David Bell and Samuel Pepys

On a more sombre note, David closed his talk with an account of the heroism of the villagers of Eyam in the Peak District who by putting themselves into quarantine prevented plague spreading. The description of the sufferings of the Mortons, a family who had lived in his own house in Eyam during this period, was particularly poignant.

Gail’s Groups Report was brief, as August was a quiet month with so many members on holiday or grandparenting. There would be an attempt to restart the Shakespeare Studies Group and second Creative Writing Group in the autumn. The Three Valleys Reading Group, convened by Caroline Pindar, was up and running.

Members who wish to receive the monthly mailshots for 2018-19 were asked to pay their £8 to cover the postage.

The Committee asked for ideas for festive items for the December 20th meeting.This has already resulted in three suggestions. If anyone else can recommend a performer/group who would be free to perform on that Thursday afternoon, please send it in to the Secretary.

The U3A national body, the Third Age Trust, is holding its AGM on August 30th, and this event will be live-streamed from 9.30 to 12.30. Should anyone wish to watch the proceedings, they can do so via the U3A YouTube channel, or at

Finally, apologies for the lack of an email reminder about this month’s meeting. The team are working under strength at the moment and this was one thing which simply slipped my mind.

The meeting on September 20th will feature Neil Smith, guitarist and raconteur, who members may remember from a previous visit. This time he will be telling us about his experiences “Beyond the Iron Curtain.”

Best Wishes,
Marion Kershaw, Secretary (standing in for our Chair Gill Radford, who is on holiday)

Chairman’s report to 2018 AGM (Ernie Rogan’s farewell)

(Chairman’s Annual Report 2017/2018. For the AGM 19 July 2018)

The financial year started with just 500 members and we now stand at 533, with about 100 still to pay their subscriptions. This is a slightly better percentage than last year. We have 41 special interest groups alive and kicking.

The Treasurer Emily Watnick has continued to encourage members to sign up for Gift Aid, which allows us to claim money from HMRC. I would ask all members, who pay tax, to sign this simple form. It will help in the running of U3A Todmorden and also help to retain our subscriptions at the present unchanged level. To date, this financial year, we have reclaimed £424.

As Emily has commented, we are in a very healthy position financially, and hopefully will continue in this manner. I would ask that members, who have not yet done so, pay their now very overdue subscriptions, before the final reminder letters are emailed and posted in the next couple of weeks.

Over the year there have been 3 main projects. Our Accessibility Project was led by Doug Simpson and adopted by the committee. Doug and his team made several proposals, and we accepted the majority. We purchased a connection between our sound system and the loop system in the room to provide better facilities for members. Doug carried out a short survey and of the 20 odd members who wore aids, very few actually used or knew how to use their aids correctly with a loop system.

Keith Coates and his team published the 10 year History of U3A Todmorden. It was a 17 month effort, mainly on Keith’s part, and the committee thank him for his endeavours. Many, many people were involved in this, what turned out to be, mammoth work. Todmorden Town Council, kindly offered a grant towards publication. I was pleased to receive favourable comments from Stephen McNair, son of our founder John.. If you have not read the report, I would encourage you so to do. Copies are available at the back of the room

Preparations for the 3rd project have been ongoing for almost 12 months, and we will start utilising the Beacon System in the autumn. This is a Third Age Trust recommended and backed computer system, which combines financial and membership details. This will, when fully implemented, save time, effort, and lower the blood pressure of the committee members who input such details.

Like an old fashioned compendium of games GDPR, the updated Data Protection, gave the committee hours of endless fun. We discussed, commented, argued about the best form of words, before settling and adopting the paragraphs now on our website.

Our appeals for members to become involved in committee matters have resulted in one member, Brenda, being voted on to the committee. It’s a start. Many committee members have served for 8, 9 even the full 10 years. Eventually, they, like me, will call time and there will have to be replacements. Better to start now, that leave the hand over at an AGM. We don’t have a Vice Chair. The plain fact is that this is an Office of U3A Todmorden. If it is not filled in the next 2 years, then U3A Tod may close. We cannot, in accordance with our Constitution operate without this office.

In the past year we have welcomed the Mayor of Todmorden twice, and the Mayor of Hebden Royd, to our meetings. Also visiting were the Chairs of U3A’s of Clitheroe, Burnley and Longridge. We agreed a reciprocal agreement with U3A in Littleborough and gave advice to U3A Wadsworth as they started up. I have continued to attend cluster meetings with local U3A’s and training sessions with our Regional groups.

A notable afternoon was a training session given by a member of Yorkshire Ambulance, who instructed 20 members in basic First Aid.

As I complete my tenure as Chairman, just like an Oscar ceremony, I must thank many, many people.

Nigel Plant, who has been co opted for his computer skills to carry us through the fog of the aforementioned Beacon System.

Linda Cook, Irene Wilkinson, Anne Lee and John Townend, with whom I have shared many hours planning Let’s Go trips, sunk gallons of coffee and travelled many many miles.

Keith Coates and Jean Pearson for the help and advice they have given to me, as well as the huge amount of hours and effort they contributed to the History booklet.

Nick Littlewood, who produces our posters and heads up the Publicity Group. Nick’s posters receive many compliments from our speakers. Antony Peter, who writes our articles published in Todmorden News. How he turns an hours presentation into an enjoyable few paragraphs is a talent I wish I had.

Marion Kershaw and Anne Foster, our 2 stalwart Secretaries, who have served for the full 10 years, and whose help and guidance has been invaluable.

Dinah Kenworthy, who took on the post of Membership Secretary and beavers away assiduously.

Peter Carrigan, who has introduced a more balanced group of varied speakers. He is probably one of, if not the best Speaker Finder we have had. And I say that through gritted teeth – I did that job for 2 years !

Emily Watncik, who took over from Bill Griffiths, as Treasurer and has brought in her expertise as a previous financial expertise, working for a Charity.

Gail Allaby, who has held down the job of Groups Coordinator, helping new groups set up and liaising with them constantly.

Peter Gibson, with whom I have had many lively discussions-not quite equal to Mrs Merton’s “heated debates”. Peter has held down various posts and been Chairman, Data Controller, Speaker Finder, leader of Walks, Sound expert. Peter, in my mind, embodies all the right attributes: dedication, persistence, enthusiasm; that are required in a Committee member.

Before I hand over to Gill, I want to thank her for her patience in the last 2 years as we have worked together. I hope you enjoy your tenure as much as I have.

Finally, there is one person to whom I am totally indebted. The other member of OUR team. Without her help, support, nudging, confidence in my limited ability, calming influence, reminders and smiling face, I would not have had so much satisfaction; especially during the last 3 months of last year; my beloved Arline.

So members I have great pleasure in introducing your new Chair ; Gill Radford.

Ernie Rogan

Chairman U3A Todmorden 2016/2018.

“I’ll Put My Mind to Anything”

U3A Todmorden heard a cracking talk from Allan Shalks on Thursday, June 21st. Enigmatically titled ‘My Interesting Life’, that’s just what it turned out to be.

Inspired by his grandchildren urging him to write an autobiography, Allan has started his public talks both as a vindication of a life well led and to encourage listeners to believe that one career is simply not enough!

At 10, Allan’s parents were hospitalised for 9 months following a car crash. He was looked after by an aunt in Birmingham before returning to his recovered parents in Leeds. At 14, pretending to be 17, he got a sports paper round with the Yorkshire Post, and sold the Empire News in pubs on Saturday nights.

He moonlighted from school to be in the Harry ‘Sooty’ Corbett show. The truant officer hauled him before his headteacher who set him lines and taught him a valuable lesson: “There is a way to do things in life. You ask first.”

His fulltime working life began when he was apprenticed to a ladies’ hairdresser. Here he learned another valuable lesson. If your boss says clean the basin after using it, and you forget, then you get suspended for a week without pay.

Engaged at 18 and on the verge of marriage, he was left in the lurch after his fiancée’s father told him he wouldn’t be able to keep his daughter in the manner to which she was accustomed.

As things turned out, his reception venue was taken over by his aunt for her daughter’s wedding and there he met the young woman who would become, and still is, his wife.

By 21, Allan had opened his own hairdressing salon and his wife sold perm lotions. On his off days he ran and then bought his uncle’s market pitch in Darlington.

But this was not enough, so in 1970 he went to run Purcell’s Stores in Glossop. In 1983 he moved to Manchester, commuted to Glossop, and sold up in 2001.

Then he got bored and started work again as a deliverer of new cars. He developed the business for his boss raising the delivery rate to 200 in 18 months.

When that went sour, he thought he’d try his luck as an actor, and has appeared as an extra in ‘Cold Feet’, ‘Emmerdale’, Coronation Street’, ‘Doctors’ and many other TV shows.

He has also been a body double for Tom Conti and has enjoyed the company of a make-up girl in bed which led to an explanation of the way sheets are arranged to separate bodies in such scenes.

Allan has recently expanded into deejaying for Salford Radio, teaching at the Jewish Museum in Manchester and until 2014 was a Jewish function co-ordinator at The Pines Hotel in Clayton-le-Woods.

“At different stages of your life you can do different things,” he said – an inspiring witness to the fact that life can begin and begin over and over if you just take your opportunities.

U3A Todmorden’s next meeting will be on Thursday, July 19th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden. This will be our AGM, and our speaker will be Professor June Andrews of Stirling University, an acknowledged expert on dementia. Our contact details are (website), (email), or 01706 812015 (phone).

Happy 10th Anniversary, U3A Todmorden!

On Thursday, May 17th, U3A Todmorden met to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its first members’ monthly meeting.

We were honoured by the attendance of Cllr Christine Potter, Mayor of Todmorden, and her consort, and representatives from our U3A cluster groups of Burnley, Clitheroe and Longridge.

Many original members were there, including member 001, Geoff Boswell, erstwhile convenor of the Science and Photography groups, and former Science Advisor for U3A itself.

Our afternoon was a varied one. We enjoyed an excellent quiz organised by Myrna Beet and Denise Wilson, based on our recollections of the last ten years.

Our ‘Senior Moments’ Concert Party (oldest member over 90) gave us a taste of the performances they give in care homes. Their repertoire is heavy on nostalgia, as this goes down well with dementia sufferers.

A survey was handed out to gather data on what U3A means to its Todmorden members, and the Creative Writing group read some of their work inspired by the idea of our 10th anniversary.

Their stories and poems showed how getting older is much more bearable when you laugh, when U3A is easily confused with urethra, and when a family member’s ashes can end up as accidental rose fertiliser.

But the focal point of the afternoon was Keith Coates’ presentation of the publication ‘U3A Todmorden – the First Ten Years – 2008-2018’, compiled by himself with a resilient team.

This glossy publication is packed with our history, embracing our demography, ethnicity, socio-economics, education, membership, organisation, monthly talks, interest groups and the composition of the committee over the years.

Keith’s talk was delivered with his characteristic mixture of seriousness and genial humour.

Respects were paid to John McNair, our first chairman and moving spirit behind the founding of this educational organisation. Keith observed how John had raised an eyebrow at the idea of a lunch club.

John would be pleased to know, therefore, that though we have retained a social element to our activities, he would find it hard to quibble with an organisation that promotes the learning of Anglo-Saxon and Greek, studies the novel, Shakespeare, opera and poetry, embraces science and computing, and stretches the brain with philosophy and world affairs.

Keith observed that it was a curious fact that only 32% of our membership is male. It is of interest too that our membership is increasingly widely spread, embracing folk from Burnley, Rossendale, Littleborough and, remarkably, one person from Wigan.

Equally peculiar is the fact that there are 54 members who pay but are involved in no group activities at all!

Keith highlighted some of our work: the art exhibitions, the annual photography display in the Information Centre and the publication of ‘On the Write Lines’ by the Creative Writing group.

He also remembered fondly a Christmas talk given by Gail Allaby, ‘Queen of the Undersea World’, dressed in full diving gear.

Finally, Cllr Potter was presented with a copy of the booklet, and Ernie Rogan, our Chairman, drew this very happy afternoon to an end by announcing that copies were available free to members on leaving, courtesy of a generous grant from Todmorden town council.

U3A Todmorden’s next meeting will be on Thursday, June 21st, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden. The speaker will be Allan Shalks who will be talking about his interesting life in TV, theatre, radio and films. Our contact details are (website), (email), or 01706 812015 (phone).

April’s monthly meeting

Members meeting 19 April 2018.

Greetings to all members.

A sweltering day and the committee expected a smaller than usual attendance. However 132 members and visitors gave up gardening duties to attend. Of these 103 paid their subscriptions by cash or cheque and another 27 paid by post or internet banking. We also had 5 new members, so welcome to them. This means we now have almost 25% of subscriptions already paid. Thanks to all members who have paid to date. On 1 May 2018 subscriptions paid by standing order will be due, and this puts U3A Todmorden in a very healthy financial position. It benefits all members for subscriptions to be paid on time; reminders cost time and money.

Gail, our Groups Coordinator had a hospital appointment, so her report was given by Gill Radford, our Vice Chair, who told us that there are 5 more groups about to be formed; details can found shortly on the website. Gill also gave us a progress report about the Banner being produced for our 10th Anniversary, and reminded convenors to contact Mary Findon, with their ideas.

We now have 524 members and are, by far, the largest in our “cluster” group of neighbouring U3A’s.

All this progress and growth is astounding, in so short a time. In my youth, job adverts often stated: “do you want to join a vigorous, growing, dynamic organisation?”

We have a vacancy for Vice Chair !! Who wants to join ??

Sue Nightingale showcased the Opera Appreciation Group. Her love of this art form was obvious to all. Full details of the group can be found on the website.

Peter Gibson originally suggested that we showcase groups, and he has undertaken the bookings and administration. He has now handed that responsibility to me. I will be writing shortly to all convenors asking if they wished to make booking, and giving contact details.

Our History project has finally had the last of the proof reading and is winging its way to the printers. The first meeting to put ideas together, was in January 2017. So it’s been a long time consuming project. All thanks must go to Keith Coates, our former Chairman, who has led a hardworking team. I did comment “War and Peace would have been easier.”

You will hear shortly about an EU directive; GDPR; which is a sort of update for Privacy and Data Protection. The committee have worked hard to ensure we will meet the criteria required and last week agreed a policy we will adopt. This will be published on our website prior to 25 May, the date the directive takes effect. All members will be informed by email, or post for those who do not have web facilities.

Our guest speaker, making a welcome return was Granville Dobson. This time he turned his attention to his 15 years as a Magistrate. While his presentation was, in the main humorous, he spoke about the serious decisions which have to be taken. Magistrates are drawn from all aspects of society and must represent the population. All Court cases start initially at Magistrates Court, before, perhaps, moving on to Criminal Court. There were, at one time, 300 Magistrates in the Bradford Courts, all unpaid. 97% of all cases are dealt with by Magistrates. There are usually 3 sitting together so a decision can be reached.

Granville gave an instance of an accused being rude to the Bench, was told he was in Contempt of Court, and every further outburst would result in an additional month’s sentence being applied. Asked several times if he understood, the accused eventually replied that he had been told, by Granville, not to speak again !!

We hope Granville can return for another talk.

Our next meeting will be Thursday 17 May, our 10th Anniversary meeting, commencing at 2:00pm. It will be an enjoyable afternoon, with probably some cake, a quiz, a humorous questionnaire and entertainment from various groups.

Your committee look forward to seeing you.

Ernie Rogan.


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.

February’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings to all members. Another full house. All our usual chairs were used and the reserve wooden chairs had to be brought out, for the late comers.

Our guests were Cllr Pat Fraser, Mayor of Hebden Royd, and her Consort, who both said they had enjoyed the meeting. Cllr Fraser added she would be joining U3A at the end of her Mayoralty in May. We now have a membership of 516.


Gail gave her groups’ report and told us that there are likely to be three more groups shortly: Italian, Shakespeare and Novel Appreciation (group 2).

Thanks to all for bringing and showing their membership cards.

Andrew Teal, one of our unsung heroes, is moving shortly. Members may not see him, but we use his work every day: he is our Webmaster, and what a great job he has done for us. I am sure we all wish him well. Alan McDonald, a long- time member, has agreed to take over this role.

So good news and bad news. At the last members’ meeting, I was asked if the committee had considered using “compostable” cups for our refreshments. After a month of emails back and forth to the Recycling Officer of CMBC, eventually we agreed on the type of cup we can use, which can then be recycled in the “green” bins. Cost will be £40/1000. So that’s the good news. However, looking at the list for volunteers for refreshments, there are no names from September to December. Before anyone asks, Arline and I will be responsible for August, as soon as I have completed my duties as Chairman. Please put your names down and fill the list at our next meeting.

You will note from Gail’s report that we require Convenors for the Natural History and Spanish groups. We are a self-help organisation. If members don’t help, the organisation will cease. I have written to all convenors to ask for their help. Convenors are the backbone of U3A, do a great job keeping their groups fresh and alive, and give a great deal of their time. I know that within many groups, members join in, lead meetings and participate fully. However, vacancies occur and have to be filled. Our Vice Chair will be vacant at our AGM. It has to be filled, this is in our Constitution. We have a list of responsibilities for this post, which I will be delighted to forward to interested members. These are not onerous. The problem of members not volunteering runs through all voluntary organisations. Please consider carefully and if you feel that you can make a contribution, contact me or any committee member.

One advantage we have is that we do not need to seek funding on a regular basis. Todmorden Town Council has given us a very generous grant towards the publication of our History project, and we are grateful.

Our speakers were Peter Thornton and Ray Riches,


who talked about the origins and progress of their original videos and now DVDs of the Pathway Story. Intermingled with the history of this region were tales of numerous toasted tea cakes. Unfortunately their computer had a small glitch, so we were denied many photographs and films, which they had intended to show us. However, the duo were so entertaining, with asides and reminiscences, that images were unnecessary. Peter has a desire to appear in every film: like Alfred Hitchcock. Their first film was called “Walk along T’cut” and their second, surprisingly, “Walk along T’long cut.” They have produced a film about the Brontës, which they hoped would be a world-wide success and make their fortune; but no. They had many tales, and members so enjoyed their humour, that perhaps they can make a return visit.

Our next members’ meeting will be on 15 March 2018. Our speaker, making a welcome return, will be Geoff Carter, and his subject; The Battle of the Somme. Also, on that day, we will have some documents from the period provided by Darren Widdup and his colleagues. Our guests will be Kate Moreton-Deakin, one of the Deputy Lord Lieutenants of West Yorkshire; Cllr Jane Scullion, Deputy Mayor of Calderdale and her Consort.

Your committee look forward to meeting you.

Ernie Rogan Chairman

Nemesis – Directrix and Retributress

by Anthony Peter.

01 jan 2018
Dr Emma Stafford and Ernie Rogan

On Thursday, 18th January, U3A Todmorden’s monthly meeting’s guest speaker was Dr Emma Stafford, a Senior Lecturer in Classics at Leeds University and author of the guidebook to Todmorden Town Hall. Her subject was the Greek goddess, Nemesis.

But what did – and does – Nemesis stand for?

Nemesis certainly still inhabits our imaginations: in Germany, their national football team is regarded as England’s ‘alten Nemesis’, and in France, Sir Alex Ferguson has been described as Arsène Wenger’s ‘éternel Némésis mancunien’.

Alton Towers has a ride called Nemesis, and one of the favourite characters in the video game, Resident Evil, is the Nemesis, an undead, bio-manipulated Tyrant – something ‘coming to get you.’

But why should someone come to get you? The ancient Greeks associated Nemesis with ‘hubris’ or the excessive pride that leads mortals to get above themselves, and the goddess was there to keep you in your place.

At first, she was envisaged wearing white because she was pure and justifiably indignant at mortal behaviour. And, being pure and blameless, she was considered qualified to represent justice, so her images came to show her with a set of scales.

As an agent of retribution, she is seen in vase paintings pointing to what will happen to you if behave outrageously. Statues and coins show her with a measuring rod and a horse’s bit, directing us to ‘do nothing beyond measure, nor be unbridled in speech.’

In her developing role as the goddess who urges us to think before we act, she comes also to be given a rudder and a wheel, symbols telling us to ‘keep on track’.

And if we fail to heed her, then, as one statue shows, she will trample on our heads and set her bird of vengeance, a griffin, on us.

Christian Europe developed the concept of a corrective Nemesis in ‘emblem books’. Thus an image of Nemesis with rod, bridle and wheel carries the motto ‘Harm no one in word nor deed’; and an engraving of Hope and Nemesis together declares ‘Do not hope for what is not allowed.’

This was a learned and enlightening talk, giving us an insight not only into Nemesis, but also into the world of academic research and its relevance to our own lives.

Our January showcase speaker was Myrna Beet, convenor of the Quiz Group. Meeting on the 4th Thursday of the month, they work in random teams to do a 60 question quiz set by a member. Members also take it in turns to provide the refreshments. It must be fun, as several members have been going for years!

U3A Todmorden’s next meeting will be on Thursday, February 15th 2018, and our speakers will be Peter Thornton and Ray Riches with their talk ‘The Pathways Story’. Our contact details are (website), (email), or 01706 812015 (phone).

January’s Monthly Meeting

20/01/18 15:22

Greetings to all members and, on behalf of the committee, Happy New Year to all those who could not attend.

We had a good turn out, considering the poor weather, and, excitingly, 11 new members joined! We would not really expect that sort of figure at this time of year. So a warm welcome to you and your committee look forward to meeting you.

Gail’s Group report will be on the website shortly, and she advised that it is hoped there will be 3 new groups formed in the coming weeks.

Myrna Beet spoke about her Quiz group, which is informal but stimulating. Teams are mixed every session and members are expected to participate by setting questions. Full details of the meetings can be found here.

Looking forward to the coming year, we a great line up of speakers, thanks to Peter Carrigan.

Next month, our special guest will be the Mayor of Hebden Royd, Cllr Pat Fraser.

In March, our guests will be the Deputy Mayor of Calderdale, Cllr Jane Scullion, and her Consort, Mr Andrew Bibby. On that day we will offer a welcome return to Geoff Carter. I cannot delete from my memory part of his first presentation when he spoke about Antarctica and, in graphic detail, of the bird which clears up after the penguins. Geoff’s subject will be the Battle of the Somme.

In 1914 a Todmorden group of men marched to Rochdale to enlist. In 2014, in their memory, a group of local men and women, replicated that march, in pouring rain. For the last 4 years, the men have attended many events and visited the WW1 battlefields. In March they will be in the Somme. Some members will attend our March meeting and bring a display of local letters and memorabilia.

I sent round a news letter recently, and have to apologise. It did not turn out as originally planned. My IT skills are not great and I could not embed the u3a logo at the top of the letter. Thanks are due to Jean Pearson, Gill Radford and Marion Kershaw for their contribution. I advised that some committee members having served for 8/9 years wish to let others, with fresher ideas, take over. The situation has changed slightly. At time of writing, at our AGM, we will have a vacancy for Vice Chair; a post which must be filled. With, now 513 members, we hope that there will be at least one willing to be nominated for this role.

Alison Greenwood has done a sterling job organising refreshments since u3a Todmorden started. We are seeking a member to bring a team together to provide the cups that cheer. In many u3a’s each group takes turns to provide the tea./coffee etc. With 40 groups, this would mean once every 3 years. Too big a task I ask ? Please contact me directly, if you can help in any way.

Our speaker, Dr Emma Stafford, spoke about Nemesis. She explained how the perception of the Goddess changed from antiquity to the present day. From “harm no one in word or deed; do not hope for what is not allowed.” to examples of modern day Nemesis: Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter, Turkey giving Greece 12 points during Eurovision Song contest (Prof Derek Scott would approve of that example), Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson. Dr Stafford’s students must be experts in shorthand, or have recording devices for her lectures, since she delivers at such a good pace her audience has to concentrate fully. Dr Stafford is a member of TAODS and showed the full range of her acting ability during her presentation. She kindly, produced a handout of the presentation, both in normal and large print, for which the committee are very grateful. A fuller review of this talk will appear shortly in Todmorden News.

Our next meeting will be Thursday 15 February 2018 and our speakers will be Ray Riches and Peter Thornton; 2 well known local film makers. Their subject will be the Pathway Story.

Your committee look forward to seeing you next month.

Ernie Rogan Chairman.

December’s Monthly Meeting

23/12/17 15:15.

Greetings to all members. 112 members and guests, including one very recent new member, attended our informal December meeting. If it was not possible for you to be there, well, you missed a most memorable and entertaining afternoon.

After a very short welcome, I handed over to Gill Radford, who spoke about her French Improvers’ Group. This is not a beginners’ group, but is fully integrated, with all members expected to participate. The group meets alternate Mondays at the Fielden Centre. Members can, if they wish, move on to French Conversation, if there are vacancies.

Welcome visitors were the Mayor and Mayoress of Todmorden. Cllr Potter spoke about her chosen charity, Age UK, and made an appeal. Age UK is about to be rebranded and will have to rely more heavily on donations and volunteers in the future.

I admit that I gave a florid introduction to Ant Peter, who was acting as MC, and likened him to the late Leonard Sachs. But this was in tune with the Ant’s introduction to proceedings. Ant, in fact, embodied all the attributes, words, phrases, and eloquence of that entertainer.

Members were treated to some classical and festive piano music from the multi-talented Jenny Sheldon.

The first reading was given by Anthony, in a convincing Welsh accent, of a Dylan Thomas piece, about a fire at Mrs Protheroe’s, at Christmas.

Arline Greenwood read the monologue about Sam and his Christmas pudding, and his conversations with the Duke of Wellington. After a mix up, Sam’s pudding was fired at the ramparts, with the result that they “blew Badajoz off the map”.

Following on was Patrick Smith, a fine tenor, who sang the ditty ”Put a bit of treacle on my pudding Mary-Anne”: an old vaudeville song, full of innuendo.

Our poetess in residence, Glenys Halliday, had penned a piece about “Rudolf mugging our Grannie”. How sad. Read by Ant to great effect.

Keith Coates, our former Chairman, read a poem, which he claimed embodied his view of the run up to Christmas: “Grumpy Old Christmas.” The item was written by his wife, Wendy; maybe it was true!

Finally, Patrick sang the Flanders and Swann favourite; ”The gas man cometh.” As he pointed out, is it possible these days to have six different tradesmen arrive, on time, in order, as required?

Myrna Beet’s quiz followed. The 30-question tester was finally won after a final decider, with several teams having 26 correct answers.

Peter Gibson, our Database Controller, had helped out with the launch of the biography of Geoff Love, recently. For his efforts, he was given a copy of the book, which he generously handed over, and this was won by a member, in a free raffle.

The final part of the afternoon was headed by Arline Greenwood reciting the tale of Sam (again) and his failed attempts to buy a gift for a shilling in London. He finally passed the night away with the Duke, spending all his money on rum.

Sylvia Hartley, in her first appearance on stage, read her very sad and modern tale of saving Mr Hassan from having his shop robbed, by hitting the miscreant with a frozen turkey leg. But this story ended with her being charged with common assault: nothing common about it she said!

The afternoon was wound up by Patrick singing “Have some Madeira M’dear”, a tale of an old roue trying to persuade a young lady to partake of that drink, and his favours; and finally succeeding.

All credit, applause, praise, and kudos must be given to Ant Peter, who took my original concept, improved upon it and produced a wonderful afternoon of entertainment. Ant persuaded no less than seven people to perform, and the Creative Writing Group to produce three new pieces. Thanks to all involved.

The next u3a Todmorden meeting will be 18 January 2018 and our speaker Dr Emma Stafford: her subject Nemesis. Dr Stafford is Senior Lecturer in Classics, Leeds University. Hopefully we will be able to persuade her to speak for a few minutes about her interest in Todmorden Town Hall.

Your committee wish you all a Happy Christmas and a safe and healthy New Year, and look forward to seeing you all during our 10th anniversary year.

Ernie Rogan, Chairman.

November’s Monthly Meeting

Thursday 16 November 2017, 11:03pm.

Greetings to all members; 123 members and 9 visitors attended on a bright winter’s afternoon. We were tight for space, but the refurbishment of Central Methodist Church should be completed within a couple of weeks, so we should be able to spread out over our usual area.

Doug Simpson, who has been Chairing the Accessibility Group, conducted a short survey of members who have hearing aids. 26 were present. Of these only eight knew that their unit had a switch for a loop system, and only five actually knew how to use it. U3A Todmorden has, with Doug’s guidance, purchased some connections, which run from our computer directly to the loop system in Central; thus improving the sound quality for hearing aid users. Doug also asked if anyone wished to sit closer to the loudspeakers, about 18 members indicated their preference. It has been decided that Committee will ask members to leave the front row of seats for those members with hearing issues to use.

Campbell Malone spoke about the Art Appreciation Group, reminding all members that their meetings review all types of art, and potential members should not assume that the finer details of painting, only, are discussed. The meeting I attended recently was about knitting; yes, certain knitted clothing is, indeed, an art form. All members will be made welcome. The next meeting will examine the windows designed by Marc Chagall. Contact details can be found on the Group’s page of our website.

Gill Radford gave the Groups report. The convenor for the German Group is moving out of the area, therefore they are seeking a new convenor. Please contact Gail Allaby if you can help in any way.

Gill then went on to welcome our speaker of the day Ian Gibson; formerly head of the Lancashire County Museums Service. Ian stepped in at the very last minute. Heather Davis, a former colleague, was due to speak, but had to attend a meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund, to discuss a grant to help keep open five museums in Lancashire, due to close because of financial cuts. We hope she is successful. Ian’s presentation was called the “Nuts and Bolts in advances in Cotton Industry production”. Ian took us through the history of the machinery of the early years. Leonardo da Vinci had drawn a sketch of a proposed spinning machine, but Ian assured us it would not have worked; like his design for a helicopter. Hand looms have been used since 550 BC, but very few examples of the cloth of early history remain. The main problem with hand looms was the spread of the arms of the user. Some kind of machinery had to be invented to increase the width of cloth. Ian told us that William Lee used a “stocking frame knitting machine” from 1589. John Kay had an early example of a flying shuttle in 1733 and Lewis Paul was the inventor of roller spinning in 1738. Arkwright’s well known “spinning jenny”, in 1769, may not have been all his own original work. Helmshore Mill, now threatened with closure, has the only original Arkwright water frame. Ian then led us through to the present day and the speed with which yarn and cloth can be produced, and so cheaply. U3A Todmorden are grateful to Ian for giving us such an interesting presentation at such short notice.

Our next meeting will be 21 December 2017, at Central Methodist Church, commencing at 2:00pm. It will be our informal Christmas Meeting, with punch, a quiz, and entertainment consisting of piano music, singing, and monologues.

Your committee look forward to seeing members.

Ernie Rogan Chairman

N.B. I wish to thank all members who have asked about my progress following my recent surgery. Arline and I have been touched by your concern. I must thank Jean Pearson, Gill Radford and Peter Gibson, who substituted for me over the past 3 months.

October’s Monthly Meeting

09:20, 20th October 2017.

Good Morning.

109 members attended yesterday’s monthly meeting and were both enlightened and entertained by Sheila Antrobus and her presentation, ‘Check it, don’t Chuck it!’

There were more than 50 antiques, collectibles and curiosities which members had kindly brought for Sheila to value, based on current retail prices. Sheila, a retired teacher, shows her collection at local Antique Fairs and has taken part in TV programmes such as Bargain Hunt.

She was passionate, knowledgeable, and amusing as she told us that our pottery, glass, wood, paper, ivory, bone, were worth much less than we had hoped in today’s world unless they had some intrinsic quirky quality or usefulness : if it was doomed to be nothing more than an ornament the value was reduced. A snuff box in the shape of a pair of boots had a value double that of a snuff box inlaid with bone marquetry simply because of its quirkiness. Silver and gold might even only be worth their weight once melted down – what a personal disappointment!

Nevertheless the audience remained spellbound for 90 minutes, many leaving with Sheila’s business cards for future contact. That is to say the hoarders amongst us could go and search their attics knowing which items had value, whilst the chuckers, like me, were left thinking, ‘Oh well, c’est la vie’!

The format of the afternoon had worked well with membership cards being shown at the main entrance and everyone able to take part via the hearing loop system and the video screen which could magnify even the smallest items.

Ernie Rogan thanked Sheila for her wonderful presentation.

Thank you to everyone for making the afternoon a success.

Gill Radford Vice Chair 2017

Greenwode to Gibson to National Trust

by Anthony Peter.

On Thursday 21st September U3A Todmorden were lucky to secure the services of Trevor Moody, a National Trust volunteer speaker, to tell us about Gibson Mill and Hardcastle Crags.

Trevor gave us a talk that entertainingly embraced etymology, social history, geology, engineering, manufacturing, holidaying, photography and composting toilets.

Trevor often amusingly intertwined fact and anecdote. Thus the fact that the Norman Wyomarus de Greenwode was the first landowner of Greenwood Lee in Hardcastle Crags was enlivened by the story of the drunken auction in 1764 that transferred ownership to the Gibson family.

Or the fact that the navvies who built the Walshaw Dean reservoirs were housed in wooden huts is memorable because the settlement became known as Dawson City, a reflection of the energy and lawlessness of the Yukon Gold Rush town.

But much of the talk concentrated on the Gibson family and their development of the land round their mill. Cotton manufacture required a weir, a millpond, the mill (opened by the second Abraham Gibson in 1800), and a 72 hours-a-week workforce (in 1833).

It also required transport and Trevor’s display of old photographs of the different specialized carts for wood or stone used in the Hebden area was exceptional. The fever van was a specialised item too.

By 1899 the mill was closed. The area then became an immensely popular recreation centre, the brainchild of Ernest Greenwood. There were cafes and dance halls, swing boats, boating ponds, camping and holiday chalets. In 1946 these holiday enterprises closed and in 1951 Lord Savile gifted 250 acres at Hardcastle Crags to the National Trust to prevent the building of another reservoir.

From 1984-2006 the Trust renovated the property, garnering occasional windfalls from films such as ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’. And, of course, the Trust now carries on the fine tradition of providing recreational facilities for those who want fresh air and fine countryside.

Trevor is very much to be thanked for reminding us of this wonderful facility on our doorstep.


Our showcase speaker this month was Anthony Peter who convenes the ‘Novel Appreciation’ group. This good-humoured group tackles novels that have some depth and serious purpose, considering whether or not they can be judged as good literature. Calderdale Library Services provide most of the books and a meeting room for free, so the group annually buys a set of a novel they don’t have by way of thanking them.

An excellent hanging made by the Craft Group for Walkers Are Welcome has been on display in Todmorden Library recently. A fine piece of work for the community by the community. Congratulations to everyone who contributed.

U3A Todmorden’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, 19th October in the Central Methodist Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. The meeting is an unusual one: Sheila Antrobus, local antiques expert, will be giving a short talk titled ‘Don’t Chuck It, Check It’, accompanied by a brief evaluation of objects brought by our members.

This meeting has very particular arrangements which must be adhered to; details are available on our website under News / September’s Monthly Meeting. Please check them rather than turn up and be disappointed.

Our contact details are (website), (email), or (phone) 01706 812015.

September’s Monthly Meeting

7pm, 21st September

Good Evening Fellow Members,

I was asked by the committee to take over as Acting Chairman this month in the absence of both our Chairman, Ernie Rogan and our Vice-Chairman, Gill Radford. Gill was just taking a pre-arranged, well-deserved holiday but, as many of you may know, Ernie had to have some significant medical treatment a couple of weeks ago and will be out of action for a little while yet. However, I’m very pleased to report that his recovery is going well and he seemed in very high spirits when I talked to him a couple of days ago. I’m sure that all members join with me in sending him best wishes.

We had another excellent Member’s Meeting today with a very interesting talk by Trevor Moody about “Hardcastle Craggs and Gibson Mill”.  This was a last-minute replacement for the advertised talk by Rev. Christine Griffiths on the topic of “Facing the Inevitable”, which had to be postponed because of ill health. We are lucky to have the services of an excellent Speaker Finder in Peter Carrigan, and in the midst of working hard on next year’s programme of speakers, he did us proud with with such an excellent replacement today at short notice.

In his lavishly-illustrated talk, Trevor covered the history and development of what is now a National Trust property and included a great deal of information, not just about the Hardcastle Craggs and Gibson Mill, but also about the surrounding area. With some 200 slides and his huge amount of knowledge, I think I can say with confidence that this was definitely no second-rate substitute for our advertised event!

Before the main talk, we had the usual Groups Report from Gail Allaby, albeit a shortened version this month, but full details are here, and Gail’s report will also be sent out as usual to all members on email and by post to those members subscribing to the postal mailshot.   We also had another Group Showcase today, in which a different group each month is allocated a 5-minute slot to tell us all about their group – where and when it meets and what it does. This month it was the turn of the Novel Appreciation Group, and the Group Convenor, Anthony Peter, gave us an excellent insight into the group’s activities and telling us about novels they have read and plan to read in the near future.  The group is at maximaum attendance level at the moment, but with four members on a waiting list there is scope for setting up a second group.  Any volunteers for another Convenor?  Incidentally, Anthony is the man behind the U3A press reports that grace the pages of the Hebden Bridge Times and Todmorden News, and so it was a good opportunity to thank him for the good work he does with his reports.

I also want to thank George Boyle and David Sutcliffe for helping me with setting up and running the audio-visual equipment at Members’ Meetings and for standing in for me at holiday times and on occasions like today. And by the way, we’re still looking for additional volunteers to help with this work!

Today’s Members’ Meeting was the first occasion when members had been asked to show their Membership Cards on arrival, and committee members were delighted by the response, with around 80% of members able to show them.  We are hoping that within the next couple of months that figure will have risen regularly to 100%, thereby reducing the risk of members being turned away at the door when we make it mandatory!

However, membership cards will definitely be required next month for the “Don’t Chuck It, Check It!” meeting, featuring local antiques expert, Sheila Antrobus, who will be describing and carrying out valuations on items brought in by members.  In her allocated one-hour time slot, Sheila expects to be able to cover around 60 valuations!  We are expecting a very high attendance at that meeting and so we are also specifying “No Visitors” on that occasion.  We may even be in the position of having to turn away some card-carrying members if we find that we’ve reached the Fire Service’s designated safe capacity figure for the hall.  So please come early to guarantee entrance!  Doors will be open from 1.30pm as usual.  Full details of how the meeting will operate were included in Tuesday’s email, but are repeated below for the benefit of new members and for recipients of the postal mailshot.

Peter Gibson, Acting Chairman

Arrangements for Thursday 19th October Members’ Meeting

  1. Entry will be restricted to Members Only for this meeting and members will be required to show Membership Cards on arrival.
  2. To ensure that we don’t exceed the maximum capacity of Central Methodists, members will be issued with consecutively numbered tickets on arrival and if the maximum number is reached, the doors will be closed.
  3. Any member attending may bring along just ONE item for valuation.
  4. Items for valuation must be relatively small and easily portable.
  5. You will need to label your item in some way with your name and Membership Membership Number (from your Membership Card).  This is for identification only – ownership of items being valued will not be announced.
  6. Members will be asked to put items for valuation on the table at the front of the room. Whilst these tables will be overseen by committee members, please bear in mind that items will be deposited entirely at your own risk.
  7. No guarantee is offered that all items will be valued – it will be up to Sheila to decide which items to feature.
  8. We are intending to use a video camera to show items being valued on the projection screen at the front.

August’s Monthly Meeting

8pm, 17th August

Good evening members of U3A Todmorden!

104 members (including six new members) and seven visitors attended our Members’ meeting at the Central Methodist Church this afternoon.

Because our Chairman was unexpectedly unable to attend, I (Jean A Pearson) volunteered to be your Chairman for the afternoon having been given Ernie’s typed notes to read out – and I stuck to the letter – well, almost! It was a pleasure to be in the Chair for this session.

In the absence of Gail Allaby (Groups Co-ordinator) I provided the following information from her – (a) she has found a new venue for our Special Interest Groups to use in the snug room at the Hare and Hounds, Burnley Road, Todmorden. The room is free, but members will be expected to buy a drink. There is a large car park. (b) The Mah Jong Group has moved from Wetherspoons and this week played at the Queen and next week the meeting will be from 3 pm – 5 pm at the Hare and Hounds. (c) The French Improvers’ Group has moved its meetings to Thursdays only. (d) Mike Hickling, who runs a bridge group at Walsden Cricket Club (Todmorden Bridge Club), has offered to teach U3A Tod members the rudiments of the game. More information will follow about days and times and insurance cover.

Ernie reports that the Inclusiveness Group, led by Doug Simpson, has produced a first draft of their suggestions – a few tweaks are needed before it is published.

Keith Coates and his team have produced a draft copy of the ‘History of U3A Todmorden’ in plenty of time for our 10th anniversary celebrations next May. The report is about 32 pages long so it is very comprehensive and we hope to have it published professionally.

A few members have not yet paid their subs and they will not be allowed to attend any Special Interest Group or members’ meetings from now on.

Our October meeting will be called ‘Don’t Chuck It, Check it’, presented by Sheila Antrobus who is a valuer and auctioneer. She will be inviting members to bring along small objects – and Ernie stresses SMALL – for valuing – a sort of Antiques Road Show. We expect this to be a very popular meeting so it will be strictly limited numbers and only those members who produce their membership cards will be given entrance. Forewarned is forearmed!

Membership cards which have not been collected today from Dinah Kenworthy (Membership Secretary) will be posted out by the end of September.

The Speaker at next month’s meeting (Thursday, 21st September, 2017) is Christine Griffiths, who is the Minister at the Central Methodist Church, and her subject will be ‘Facing the Inevitable’. Ernie says don’t let this title put you off! If you don’t know Christine, look out for a 64 year old with either pink or purple hair and driving a huge purple Mercedes soft top vehicle – she is not the usual Methodist Minister!

Mary Findon (Craft Group Convenor) gave an illuminating five-minute Showcase about our Craft Group and there was a display of some of their work prior to the meeting. The Group members sound to be full of enthusiasm and I was struck by the wide range of activities they’ve been involved in and, perhaps more importantly, the way in which they all care for and share with each other. Thank you Mary for your presentation.

Our Speaker-Finder – Peter Carrigan – introduced our guest speaker – Dr Mary Holmes – the title of her talk being ‘Four years, Eight Histories and a Dog’. Her dynamic presentation gave us her reflections about her involvement in and admiration for The Royal Shakespeare Company and some of the history of its Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. We all found it a spell-binding talk and many questions were asked along the way. Peter thanked Mary for her talk.

Best wishes – Jean

July’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings to all members. We had 111 members, four visitors and four new members present at our AGM and I welcome the members who joined on the day. The committee hope you enjoy your time with U3A Todmorden.

The AGM ran smoothly and thanks to the whole committee for their help. Marion Kershaw read the minutes of the AGM 2016, which were accepted by the membership.

Bill Griffiths gave the Financial Report, that we are in a sound and healthy position. The membership also accepted the report, which was signed and dated.

Bill Griffiths is leaving his post as Treasurer. There being no other nominations Emily Watnick was returned as Treasurer.

There were two vacancies on the committee; there being no other nominations Anne Foster and Peter Carrigan were returned to the committee.

We now have just over 500 members registered, but expect to lose several, who have not yet paid their subscriptions. There are 40 special interest groups.

The good news is that, thanks to the hard work of Emily, we now have in our bank account £445.03 returned to us from HMRC for Gift Aid. I would ask all members to consider completing a Gift Aid form, if they pay tax. By claiming back about £3 per person, we can try to maintain the £15 membership fee; held for the last eight years; and purchase new equipment. Our oldest computer needs replacing; it is eight years old and runs on Vista, which is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Keith Coates is heading the Research Project and has found that there are 22 fully paid up members, whose names never appear as attending the monthly or special interest meetings.

On Tuesday, Doug Simpson gave the committee a very comprehensive report on the issues surrounding members with hearing, mobility or sight problems. It was thought-provoking. We are on the right lines but work has to be done to make improvements. When the final report is given to the committee, it will be shared with convenors and interested parties.

Now for several appeals. U3A is a self-help organisation, so we always require volunteers for all aspects of our groups.

The team that looks after the sound and vision equipment would like some additional help. I gave full details last month. If any member has experience, or would like to be trained how to use the mixer desk, please contact either Peter Gibson or myself. Our contact details are on the website. At the end of the meeting two members came forward with offers of help. So thanks to them.

We have asked regularly about helpers for the tea/coffee rota. Many members say they will help out, if required, but when asked to commit to a particular date, they seem to fade away. If you can help please contact me.

To remind all members. At the beginning of September, we will post out all membership cards to those who have paid their subscriptions, but not collected them. Once a reasonable time has elapsed, members may be asked to produce current cards for entrance to monthly or special interest groups. Our Research Group found about 20 people attending groups, who were not U3A Todmorden members; this situation has mainly been resolved.

Finally. We have produced newsletters reasonable frequently, to try and keep all members up to date with our activities. However, this year, those who normally put this item together have been extremely busy on projects. If any member would like to help to assemble a two-sided, simple, short newsletter, please get in touch with me. We have the processes to gather information; we require members who can bring this together, so it can be put into a “desk top publishing” program. We will then print them. At the end of the meeting a member offered to help, and for that I am grateful. But we can always use more help to lighten the workload.

Gail gave her monthly report about group activities. Full information will be on the website.

Jean Pearson spoke about her Art group, why it started, and showed an example of work she had completed.

One of the convenors for the Lunch Club has had to withdraw and Jean Pearson has volunteered to forward details of the forthcoming meetings. Jean announced the date of the Christmas lunch. As before it will be at Stubbing Wharf and details of the date and menu are available. Book early this is always a popular event.

Alison Greenwood spoke about the forthcoming weekend devoted to the life of Geoff Love and the book launch in early September. Details are available from the Information Centre.

Gill Radford, our Vice-Chair introduced our guest speaker, Geoff Tansey and his presentation: Food: Wars or Peace? This was a challenging talk about fair, healthy, and sustainable food systems. Food systems correspond to what people want. But is what they want realistic, will it be so in the future? The number of people working in agriculture is staggering; about 2.5 billion, world wide, ranging from farmers, traders, workers, processors, manufacturers, wholesaler, caterers; before the product reaches us, the consumers. There is a battle for consumers by manufacturers and a few massive companies have a great deal of control. The seed industry, for example, has only three major producers. There are many threats to agriculture; climate, competition over resources, global militarisation, systems not fit for purpose. Geoff suggested that increased productivity is not necessarily the complete answer; that we already have sufficient food production for our needs. He asked in the future will we be able to consume what we want, rather than require. He suggested that we all need to act together; individuals, governments, communities, corporations, for the benefit of us all. There are some goals, the most important to end hunger by 2030. If societies do not have sufficient food, they will move.

I remind members that the next U3A Todmorden monthly meeting will be on 17 August: our speaker will be Dr Mary Holmes and her subject ”Four years, eight histories and a dog”. Your committee look forward to meeting you.

Ernie Rogan Chairman.

Bernard Lockett and Neil Smith enthral U3A Todmorden

by Anthony Peter.

May and June have been musical months for U3A Todmorden. In May, members enjoyed the return of Bernard Lockett whose talk focused on the political and social satire of Gilbert and Sullivan.

It’s hard to imagine Gilbert and Sullivan as anything other than pillars of the establishment, but Bernard Lockett showed us that their brilliance lies in the way the bite of Gilbert’s satire gains acceptability through the softening effect of Sullivan’s music.

Nevertheless, Bernard proposed that since G&S performances were attended by all classes of society, one can imagine the lower classes in the gallery enjoying a laugh at the expense of the socially elevated in the stalls.

Such laughter would, for example, have come at the expense of Parliament (‘Iolanthe’), the Law (‘Trial by Jury’) or corruption in government (‘The Mikado’).

The practice of offering high office to unsuitable men is highlighted by ‘the ruler of the Queen’s Navy’ in ‘HMS Pinafore’. This opera spotlights the fact that the stationery magnate, W.H. Smith, a man of no marine experience, had been shoehorned into the Admiralty as its First Sea Lord. (Bernard pointedly observed that there are today 42 Admirals in the Royal Navy even though it does not have that many ships.)

Gilbert’s social commentary is often acute. ‘Princess Ida’ advocates the role of women in society to clear up the mess that men – who ‘at best are but a monkey shaved’ – have made of it. It makes the case for university education and votes for women.

And in ‘Utopia Limited’, one critic has observed that ‘English prudery, English conversation, English company promoting, the English party system, the English War Office and Admiralty, the County Council, and the English Cabinet’ are all taken to task.

Once again, Bernard’s talk was illustrated with DVD excerpts from the operas which were highly entertaining and reminded us that although the operas are considered ‘light’, they offer substantial challenges to the singers.

Neil Smith in June, by contrast, offered us musical entertainment of a delightfully different and varied kind. Neil’s reputation as an international guitarist is among the highest, and together with his skill and musicality in styles ranging through classical, rock and jazz, he has clearly enjoyed a rich, rewarding and, occasionally, bizarre life.

These unusual experiences include being Molotov-cocktailed in Belfast, a performance for Blair and Clinton that was interrupted several times by an argument among their aides, avoiding a honey trap in a Moscow hotel, being bodyguarded by a Greek national hero, ‘Tassos’, and just missing the chance to go to Hamburg as a fill-in guitarist for The Beatles.

Neil has played for people such as Elizabeth Taylor, The Queen Mother, the Red Army in Transylvania, and General Sheikh Mahtoum III. His performances around the world at embassies are innumerable and include an encounter with an embassy 007 who quizzed him on the USSR and Arabia.

This wonderfully varied anecdotal talk was punctuated by lovely short excerpts on the guitar – Greek dance music, Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto, the March of King Brian Boru and others. Neil’s talk was well balanced, delightfully engaging and a tribute to good musicianship.

Our homegrown showcase speakers have been Alan Fowler (Social History) and Nigel Plant (Photography).

Alan’s knowledge and expertise are prodigious, and his group’s main focus is on the history of 20th century northern textile towns. They make use of autobiographies and Mass Observation documents. They have a current ambition to study Todmorden local papers from 1918 as a turning point in the town’s manufacturing life.

Nigel is an experienced photographer with 20 years’ experience of clubs at national and international level. Sometimes the group runs sessions on camera technique (filters, tripods, range, shutter speed etc.), but generally bases sessions on looking at members’ photographs. They also mount their own occasional exhibitions in the Information Centre, and organise outings.

Other News and Information

The AGM takes place at the next meeting on 20th July.

Members are reminded again that subs should be paid as soon as possible, with Gift Aid if possible. Convenors are reminded to check that those attending their meetings are paid up members.

Peter Gibson, our long-serving and much-valued Technical Officer, wishes to relinquish some of his responsibilities. Anyone with a technical or practical bent who is willing to help take over some of what Peter has been doing, should contact Peter directly.

Pam Lonsdale from Community Transport Calderdale addressed us in June and highlighted the range of services they offer. The service relies on volunteers to help with transport to hospital or shopping for those who through ill health or isolation need support. Contact details for CTC are 01422 845479 and their website is

Todmorden U3A’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, 20th July in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45. This meeting will our AGM, followed by a talk by Geoff Tansey titled ‘Food: Wars or Peace? Challenges and Opportunities in 21st Century’. Our contact details are (website), (email), or (phone) 01706 812015.

June’s Monthly Meeting

Report of Members’ Meeting – Thursday June 15th

This is not the report of the Chairman, or even the Vice Chairman, as both are on holiday at present and so it fell to me to chair what was an exceptionally entertaining meeting.

There was a short talk by Pam Lonsdale of Community Transport Calderdale who explained the range of services which they offer for those who cannot access other transport because of ill health, isolation, or simply cannot afford it. This could be for a hospital appointment or shopping. They provide a home-from-hospital service in partnership with Age UK which not only provides transport from the hospital but ensures that necessary support is available at home.

The service relies on volunteers (as drivers, but also with administration and other tasks). If anyone wishes to contact them to volunteer or to find out about their services the telephone no. is 01422 845479. There is also a web site –

There was also a short presentation by Nigel Plant, convenor, about the photography group. He emphasised that you don’t have to have expensive equipment to take part in the group, who will welcome new members. Anyone who is interested can contact Nigel by email at or by phone – 01422 845479.

Gail Allaby gave us the Groups Report as she has not been able yet to circulate it because of computer problems. She promised to circulate the report as soon as her computer was “out of hospital”.

Our main speaker was Neil Smith, whose talk was entitled “Have guitar will travel”. An appropriate title because his talk took us from Horwich and Mecca Dance Halls in Manchester to Italy, Las Vegas, Hollywood, Saudi Arabia, Northern Ireland, Greece, South America, the former USSR, and Glamis Castle in Scotland. These are just some of the many places he has played in his career as a professional guitarist. He told how he nearly played with the Beatles before they were famous, how he played for Elizabeth Taylor, and for the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday at Glamis Castle. He also spoke of the dangers of being a guitar player, having escaped being blown up and, on a separate occasion, nearly shot in Northern Ireland; and arrested in the USSR. His fascinating stories were all accompanied by his accomplished playing of pieces which were associated with each place.

It was a performance which was enjoyed by all.


The next meeting is on July 20th, which will be the AGM. There are vacancies for two committee members and for the post of Treasurer. Nomination papers will be circulated shortly if you wish to propose anyone for one of these positions.

The AGM will be followed by the normal meeting when the speaker will be Geoff Tansey whose subject will be “Food:Wars or Peace in the 21st century”

Keith Coates

May’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings to all members. We had over 100 members attending again and I welcome the six new members who joined. Our visitors included two members from the “about to be formed group” from Whitworth, Rochdale and the committee wishes them well.

I am pleased to report that we now have 494 members; just short of that magic 500. Last month over half the membership renewed their subscription and at Thursday’s meeting about another 30 paid by cash and cheque, so thanks to all for paying on time.

Emily Watnick, our Assistant Treasurer, has been working hard to persuade members to sign up for Gift Aid, and to date we have received from HMRC a total of £440. Hopefully there will be more to come.

The not-so-good news is that Jean Pearson has been working on the Research Project and by matching names to groups, has discovered that there are over 20 people who attend, but are not U3A Todmorden members. Convenors have been given details and asked to check, and we hope this situation will be resolved shortly.

As a result of this work, the committee has decided that, from September this year, members may be asked to produce their membership cards to attend group or members’ meetings. All members who have paid their subscriptions, but not collected their membership cards from members’ meetings, will receive them in the post in August.

I give advanced notice that the AGM will now take place at the July members’ meeting. There will be a vacancy for Treasurer and two vacancies for committee members. The calling notice and nomination papers will be published shortly.

The three projects are underway. Keith Coates has pages of information and statistics for the Research project. Many thanks to those members who have replied to the surveys. Doug Simpson is chairing the project for members with sight, hearing or mobility issues and has forwarded some of their comments. The 10th Anniversary group have met and are looking at various aspects of the celebrations.

This month I was pleased to be invited to attend the Novel Appreciation group, having first read the book, Dissolution, and took part in the review of the novel. It was most interesting and I thank Ant Peter and his group. I have had a few invitations to other groups, so if convenors wish to forward dates I will do my best to attend and join in proceedings.

I have been asked to remind members that there are still some places available on the Let’s Go trip to Eden Camp on 7th June. This promises to be an enlightening visit to a most well known attraction.

Finally Peter Gibson, our long-serving and long-suffering Technical Officer, wishes to hand over some, but not all, of his duties. Peter has been holding down at least four posts. In his own words “I would like the committee to seek several volunteers to join the team to set out and pack away the audio and visual equipment used at members’ meetings.”

Peter has also had the responsibility of keeping membership records. Our system is based on XL, but the committee think we should change to a more modern system, perhaps “in the cloud”.

One of Peter’s other jobs has been the trouble shooter: the computer won’t start/this has gone wrong/how do I book the equipment for next week/the digital lock will not open.

Any members who have worked in IT, have a love for computers and programs, are practical or can help in any way and want U3A Todmorden to continue and flourish please contact Peter, any committee member or me; all our details are on the website.

Peter has carried this burden for eight years and the fact that we are asking for multiple members to take over these roles indicates his commitment to U3A Todmorden and how hard he has worked. Over the years he has been Group Coordinator, Speaker Finder, Chairman and has held other posts.

Our speaker this month was Bernard Lockett and we were pleased to welcome him back. His subject this time was the Social and Political satire of Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert was concerned that 95% of the population lived in poverty. He talked about the corruption of the legal system. But Sullivan’s music took the edge off the satire. Members of the House of Lords “did nothing in particular, but did it well”. Many audience members could not hear the words clearly, but just enjoyed the music: fortunately, Bernard gave us numerous examples of the comments on society of their day compared with today. Disraeli gave W H Smith, who had never served in the Navy, the post of First Lord of the Admiralty, resulting in the song from HMS Pinafore “When I was a lad” “Stick close to your desks and one day you may be the Ruler of the Queens Navy”. Today known as “jobs for the boys”. As a reformer Gilbert wrote Princess Ida in 1883 and championed education and universities for women. He was truly ahead of his time. We look forward to Bernard’s next visit.

Next month neither Gill Radford, vice chair, nor I will be in attendance and the meeting, Thursday 15 June 2017, will be chaired by Keith Coates, who will introduce our speaker Neil Smith and his subject Have guitar: will travel.

Ernie Rogan Chairman

April’s Monthly Meeting

Andy Capp says: Don't stop me -- I'm off to pay my U3A Todmorden subscription!Greetings to all members. We had about 130 members attending, but only 88 signed in. It is a “Health and Safety” matter that members sign in for the meeting.

I make no apologies for repeating the cartoon, produced by Nick Littlewood and his publicity team, to remind all members that annual subscriptions are due. Members will be aware that my reports have contained many references to subscriptions. I am certain that the cartoon helped to bring this to the fore. In fact 117 members renewed last Thursday; 40% more than last year. This has resulted in having almost 25% of the membership paid up already. When the figures for those who pay by Bank Standing Order are added, on 1st May, we will have almost 50% of the membership renewed. A big thanks to all members who have already renewed, and thanks to the committee for all their hard work. We will be running a similar system, at the May members’ meeting, for those who wish to pay by cash or cheque. Members who wish to pay by Bank Standing Order can find all details on our website. It is not too late to Gift Aid subscriptions for this financial year.

Bill Griffiths, our Treasurer, reminds members that the old £5 note will no longer be legal tender next month.

Our 3 projects are underway. Gail and her team for the Impairment project meet for the first time next week. Any member who has hearing, sight or mobility issues, and who wishes to join, now is the time. The team planning the 10th Anniversary celebrations meets next week. Keith Coates has been leading the History and Research project, gathering statistics, information and preparing an introduction.

I would draw your attention to the excellent exhibition at the Todmorden Information Centre of images taken by Photography Group 1, led by Nigel Plant. There is an immediate impact of professionalism the way the photographs have been set out and labelled. I congratulate all involved. The exhibition is on until the end of the week.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the Art Appreciation group to see a presentation about knitting. Though sceptical originally, I really enjoyed the experience, and learned about the meaning of the various patterns on the garments: ropes, waves, fish, boats, sailors. The co-convenor has persuaded group members to join in a trial. Members choose a number, blindly. This corresponds to a subject, and they will have to research it and give a short presentation. This is part of the process of being a member of U3A; it’s not just sitting back and listening.

On to the meeting. Gail Allaby, our Group Coordinator, gave her report, which can be found on the website. It is interesting that a new group, Old English, about to start, will have an American convenor.

Jean Pearson spoke for 5 minutes about the Coffee Club, which meets socially regularly. There is no coordinator, no agenda, just a general chat. Details are on the website.

Gill Radford, our Vice Chair introduced our speaker Professor Derek Scott, for a return visit. Professor Scott spoke about the Eurovision Song Contest, which is now 60 years old. Although originally songs had to be in the country’s native language, now the contest bears no resemblance to the first years. Professor Scott gave so many examples of the various different types of songs and how they were performed. My favourite; a reggae number, “Let the sun shine into your heart”, which the singers performed wearing leder hosen. As previously, Professor Scott had us all laughing with his descriptions and treated us to many recorded highlights of the songs over the years. It was a sort of upmarket “Terry Wogan” type critical appraisal of Eurovision. I am certain we will all look forward to Professor Scott’s next visit.

We had special guests on Thursday: Josie and Peter Conway, both from Todmorden Choral Society. I thank them for allowing us the use of the piano, which the Society owns.

Our next members’ meeting will be 18 May. Our scheduled speaker has had to withdraw because of ill health. His place will be taken by Bernard Lockett, who last year delighted us with his presentation of the music of Gilbert and Sullivan. This time he will be speaking about the politics of G&S and the relevance today.

Your committee looks forward to seeing you.

Ernie Rogan, Chairman.

Professor Scott Scores a Euro-Hit

by Anthony Peter.

Thursday, 20th April saw the return of Professor Derek Scott of Leeds University to Todmorden U3A. Last year we were treated to Orientalism in music; this time we were nearer home, looking at that very peculiar Occidental phenomenon, The Eurovision Song Contest.

01aThe contest’s final will take place this year on May 13th in Kiev. Professor Scott opened with some musings on whether Brexit will affect voting patterns, and whether Russia, whose entry has been refused by Ukraine, will make a fuss. ‘It’s so unpolitical’ he said with jocular irony.

Indeed, this was a jocular talk, but, as one would expect from a professor of critical musicology, one that was underlain with some serious analysis and questioning. How often does a country’s indigenous music influence its entry? Has a European style developed? What are the key ingredients that are likely to ensure success?

Professor Scott thought that national styles were not significantly represented. Swiss singers do not yodel. In 1972, Luxembourg won with a French song sung by a Greek, and in 1978 they were represented by a Spanish duo singing in French. Many entries now are in English.

Perhaps this international blending is what Eurovision is all about. After all, the EU’s adopted motto is ‘Unity in Diversity’. However, in 1990 the Italian entry, ‘Insieme’, though sung in Italian, had a chorus of ‘Unite, unite Europe!’ sung in English at a time when the UK was agitating about the upcoming Maastricht Treaty!

But what are the characteristics of euro-pop? ‘Easy Listening’ is the predominant style – an urban entertainment representing ‘freshly-minted traditionalism’.

Popular songs are likely to fall into one of four categories:

  • ‘Enjoy Life’, featuring songs like ‘Congratulations’, ‘J’Aime la Vie’ or Germany’s 1987 entry ‘Let the Sun into Your Heart’. These songs invariably have a strong 2 or 4 beat rhythm.
  • Then there is the oddly named ‘Public Spaces for Leisuretime Pleasure’ category. Professor Scott mentioned such classics as ‘Cinéma’, the Swiss 1980 entry placed 4th, or Germany’s magnificent ‘Theater’ that was placed 2nd the same year. There is a particular European fondness for songs that hint of the fairground containing musical devices that suggest mechanical movement. ‘Puppet on a String’ and ‘Boom Bang-a-Bang’ are obvious examples, and that lesser known German entry in 1962, ‘Zwei Kleine Italiener’.
  • Category 3 might be described as ‘Quasi-Sacred, with Secular and Light Political Overtones’ such as Katrina and the Waves’ winning number ‘Love Shine a Light. The use of the tambourine and the gospel descanter are also popular elements in such songs.
  • And finally, the tremendous world of ‘Visceral Onomatopoeia’ which must include refrains ‘free from linguistic restraint’ such as ‘boum bang-a-boum’, its variation ‘boom-bang-a-bang ‘,‘ding a dong’, and perhaps the mother of them all ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ Finland’s bizarre 2006 winner.

Less notable was Spain’s ‘La La La’ which won in 1968 when Cliff Richard was pipped by General Franco’s bribed juries. (Remember, ‘It’s so unpolitical’!) Though the phenomenon of countries voting for each other can perhaps be explained by expat populations, which is why, for example, Germany often supports Turkey so strongly.

What else do composers of Eurowinners need to look out for? The obvious one is the AABA structure: catchy tune, repeat it, have a variation, then repeat it again. If that can include a key shift upwards to reinforce the emotional sincerity of the song, all well and good.

A happy tone, a party mood, a major key, a solo and a duet, a 2 or 4 beat rhythm, a tempo that is fast but not too fast, and a catchy refrain are other things to include.

To illustrate this, Professor Scott had written us his own Eurovision entry. With lyrics that probably categorised it as ‘Quasi-Sacred’, and illustrating ‘Unity in Diversity’, we listened enthusiastically to ‘Be Nice to Nice People (Be Rude to Rude People)’. Surely, we were thinking, this would have had a better chance than Jemini or Joe and Jake?

Ernie Rogan thanked Professor Scott for his illuminating and entertaining talk describing him as ‘an upmarket Terry Wogan’. Certainly, the 130 members attending enjoyed an afternoon full of Woganesque humour and intelligibly presented academic analysis. Perfect!

Our monthly Groups’ Showcase starred The Coffee Club convened by Jean Pearson.

Jean spoke about it as the brainchild of Ahmed Commis, and emphasised its value as an informal opportunity for a meeting of minds. Conversation is about learning and friendship, and embraces the international, the national and the parochial. The club’s strength is perhaps that it has no formal agenda, so every meeting is a surprise.

01bMeetings take place in the upper room of the Polished Knob opposite Todmorden Market on, usually, the first Monday of the month at 11.00.

Other News and Information
Ernie Rogan reported that he anticipates that, following his ‘pay-your-subscriptions-as- soon-as-possible-and-with-Gift-Aid-if-possible’ drive, 50% of subs will have been paid to date. If you want to pay by standing order, the form is here; if you want to pay at the May Members’ Meeting, that will be possible as well.

Ernie also reports that he is making his pastoral way, by invitation, round our groups. He visited Art Appreciation last month, and learned about knitting as an art. He is due to visit Novel Appreciation shortly. If convenors would like to welcome Ernie to their groups, just get in touch with him.

Gail reported that a new group for the study of Old English is about to get under way.

Remember that there is usually an opportunity at monthly meetings to book your place on a Let’s Go outing. Places usually go fast, so you need to get in there quickly. The recent trip to Chirk Castle was a lovely day out in the fresh air, ebullient wind, and modernised medieval buildings.

Todmorden U3A’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, 18th May in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45 which will feature the return of Bernard Lockett whose subject will be ‘The Social and Political Satire of Gilbert and Sullivan’. Our contact details are (website), (email), or (phone) 01706 812015.

Old Flames and Steamy Memories

by Anthony Peter


Granville Dobson was U3A Todmorden’s Guest Speaker at our March meeting, standing in at short notice for the indisposed Alan Hemsworth, whom we had hoped would reveal The Riddle of Humpty Dumpty’. It’s always a bit of a tall order to step in at the last minute, and Granville did us proud. If the title of his talk, ‘Old Flames’, had led us to expect a naughty excursion through the love-life of his youth, Granville soon disabused us of that misconception. The old flames he had in mind were the steam locomotives he serviced as boy and man, during his time as a fireman on the footplate.

Granville was 41 years with British Rail and gave us a quick resumé of the development of the railways in Yorkshire and Lancashire. He was an expert on the Low Moor Shed in Bradford. He gave us an enthusiastic run down on the achievements of railway engineer Sir William Stanier, whose engine designs brought LMS out of the doldrums and who restored the Low Moor Shed. He also reminded us of a few key railway dates: 1948 nationalisation; 1958 Low Moor shut to steam engines; 1959-1964 dieselisation at Low Moor; 1963 and 1965 The Beeching Reports; 1966 closure of branch lines all over Yorkshire; and 1967 – the closure of Low Moor Shed.

Granville had a lot to say about the bitterness between ASLEF and the NUR, and even more about Ernest Marples, then Minister of Transport, whose road-building interests just happened to coincide with Dr. Beeching’s recommendations for closing rail lines. Unsurprisingly, Mr Marples ended up living abroad. But Granville’s personal recollections were given equal weight in his talk. He described his affair with rail as ‘hot, dirty, uncomfortable, dangerous and wildly exciting’, especially as a fireman with one foot on the loco and one on the tender. In 1946 as a boy on a visit to London, he was invited into the cab of a Stanier Pacific locomotive called ‘City of St Albans’ and consequently, when he left grammar school, he felt called by the romance of rail rather than a white collar job. As a beginner he was on £5-17-00 a week. That earned him the privilege of cleaning out the fireboxes, chipping out razor-sharp ‘cabbages’ of clinker. He used a spanner as a hammer and at the end of the day he went home covered in red dust. There were no washing facilities at work.

When he was able to, he applied to be a fireman, was accepted, and worked his way up to mainline operations. He operated under many different drivers. One, Jack Crampton, had the reputation of burning more coal than any other driver in the region, but though incompetent was generous. Harold Leroy had an explosive temper and disliked graduate managers. Another colleague, who was a maniac when trying to make up lost time, once refashioned his false teeth by the heat of the firebox because they fitted badly, only to discover that they were his wife’s. Health and safety was different then, too. A badly bleeding finger was something to wrap up and put up with as you shovelled coal – no fun if you were on a line with 43 stops and the engine needed a constant supply of fresh steam.

This was an immensely enjoyable talk, and our appreciation was shown by Granville (who never had time to cook bacon and eggs on a shovel) selling all the copies of his book he had brought in case of interest from our members.

Monthly Group Showcase
A new feature for our U3A groups, this month it was the turn of Jazz Joy, and group convenor David Greenhough spoke about Jazz, the love of his life. David owns 20,000 vinyl jazz records, all a consequence of hearing Big Bill Broonzy at an impressionable age. For £2 a session, to cover room costs at the Fielden Centre, members can enjoy a couple of hours of unadulterated pleasure in the company of both jazz and the intensity of David’s measured, knowledgeable and humorous enthusiasm.

Ernie Rogan also urged us to pay our subs as soon as possible, and to consider seriously the advantage of doing so by standing order. And we were reminded that by Gift Aiding our subs, U3A can claim free money from HMRC. Finally, members will be pleased to know that several convenors have attended a First Aid course run by Don Buxton, a Yorkshire Ambulance responder, and are now more confident about handling a crisis should one occur.

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, 20th April in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45 when our speaker will be Professor Derek Scott, whose subject will be ‘Eurovision Song Contest’. Our contact details are (website), (email), or (phone) 01706 812015.

March’s Monthly Meeting

Members’ meeting report, Thursday 16 March 2017.

Greetings to all members. We had a good attendance of about 100 members.

Gail gave her group report, which can be found on the website.

Committee member Peter Gibson made an excellent suggestion, agreed by the committee, that convenors could have five minutes to promote their groups. The first to speak was David Greenhough, convenor of Jazz Joy. David has huge enthusiasm for his subject and a great commitment for his group. He lives in Bacup, does not have a car and so ‘commutes’ to his meetings by taxi. I hope that David’s dedication is rewarded by an increase in the attendance at Jazz Joy. Full details of meetings can be found on the website.

A great effort from Emily Watnick bringing to the attention of members and the committee the subject of Gift Aid has resulted in 140 members signing up. This will result in U3A Todmorden receiving from HMRC about £500. I would ask all members to consider Gift Aid. Members who pay more than £3.75 per annum tax are eligible to sign for Gift Aid for U3A Todmorden. This will help retain the membership fee at £15 and/or help us to renew our equipment as required.

Next month the committee hope to begin a campaign to ask members to consider paying subscriptions by Standing Order Mandate. The form for year 2017/18 is already on the website (thanks are due to Peter Gibson and Andrew Teal), to ensure we are ready in plenty of time. If any members not on the net wish to have a SO, then please contact me and I will ensure that one is posted.

The Memory Day was well received by those attending and the feedback was good.

The Impairment Project will be led by Gail Allaby. Any member who has issues with sight, hearing, or mobility and who wishes to increase their enjoyment of membership of U3A Todmorden should contact Gail.

Keith Coates, our former Chairman, has produced a questionnaire for our History and Research project. We intend this to be published by March 2018, in time for our 10th anniversary. A sub-committee has been formed to organise the celebrations.

Our speaker Granville Dobson, came to our aid. Our booked speaker became ill on Tuesday and Granville agreed to give a presentation. My thanks to Peter Carrigan for his hard work in finding a speaker, and to Granville for stepping in at such short notice. Plans have been made should a similar situation occur.

Granville talked about his 41 years on the railway, focusing on his 15 years as a Fireman, on the footplate. His home base was Low Moor, near Bradford. In 1948 the rail network was nationalised and by 1964, except for excursions, all trains were diesel hauled. Granville started work, at 16, as a junior cleaner, which meant climbing into the fire box of steam engines. He never knew how hot the working environment would be. He had to clear the clinker from around the inner skin and this always resulted in a choking red dust forming, within minutes of starting work. The fire boxes were approximately 10ftx5ftx5ft. There were many tales of the trials and tribulations of working on the footplate and the characters with whom he worked and spoke about very fondly. He talked about a driver, whose false teeth did not fit correctly, so spent a quite while carving and moulding them into shape. Only to find they were actually his wife’s!

Finally, on Saturday 18 March, 14 convenors attended a First Aid Awareness course, receiving an overview of First Aid including resuscitation, presented by a Yorkshire Ambulance responder. I thank Anne Foster for arranging the course. I am certain that all who attended will feel a little more confident, should a situation arise.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 20 April, when Professor Derek Scott will talk about the Eurovision Song Contest. Members may recall Professor Scott giving a humorous presentation last year. Your committee look forward to seeing you.

Ernie Rogan Chairman.

February’s Monthly Meeting

Report of the Members’ meeting held on 16 February 2017

Greetings to all members. We had our best attendance ever with over 150 members at Central. In fact some were so eager they were, literally, banging on the doors.

Our Group convenor, Gail, is on a well deserved holiday, so I would ask all members to look at her on-line report.

There were two matters of concern. Doug, who has been the Convenor for the World Affairs group for many years, reported that unless a volunteer could be found to take over the running of the group, the February meeting would be the last one. At the eleventh hour, Peter Baron has stepped forward and I thank him.

As members were advised last month, there were no volunteers for making refreshments, so we were without our usual welcome cup of tea/coffee and biscuit. However, Alison has advised that several members had “signed up” and, hopefully there may now be just sufficient for the remainder of the year.

Emily Watnick, our Assistant Treasurer, has brought her valuable experience to remind our members to sign up for Gift Aid. In general, members who pay tax can sign a simple Gift Aid form. This allows U3A Todmorden to claim back £3 on top of every £15 subscription. 22 members signed the forms on Thursday and we now have a total of about 70 members. This means that we can already claim over £200 back from HMRC. This could result in the group retaining the subscription at the present level of £15, or helping purchase equipment in the future. Ideally, the committee would like all eligible members to sign for Gift Aid. The £200 we can reclaim now is equivalent to 14 new members joining; and we do not have to service them; no emails, correspondence, or postage.

Last year the committee had difficulty in collecting subscriptions. These are due from April, yet some members did not pay until September. This, I believe, is unfair for the rest of the membership. We will be, actively, encouraging members to pay by Direct Debit.

The Impairment project has only 6 members who wish to be involved. This project’s aim is to enhance the enjoyment of members who have issues with sight, hearing, or mobility by making suggestions for improvement. Before we go any further, if any member wishes to join in, please contact me.

2018 will be the 10th anniversary of U3A Todmorden and, to celebrate, Keith Coates, our former Chairman, will introduce a combined History and Research project. We would like to speak to the original 50 members, most of whom are not only still around, but active.

Our speaker this month was Maria Glot and her subject was Titus Salt and Saltaire. Maria was the first Tourist Officer of Bradford District and now runs the Saltaire Experience, also acting as a guide. Her presentation was “in character” as the wife of one of Titus Salt’s employees: “eight children and another on the way”. Titus Salt built Saltaire Mill and the surrounding town, to be away from the slums and pollution of Bradford. The housing he offered his workforce was better than anywhere else in the area. Rents were not cheap, but the houses had indoor toilets and running water.
There was a cost: hard work in the mills, long hours, six days a week. He was an excellent money maker, even utilising every waste product to advantage. He patented a machine which could turn alpaca fibres into cloth which was as soft as silk, but cheaper.
Opinions differ about him: Philanthropist or Tyrant; 150 years on, we are no wiser — he burned all his papers prior to his death.

Please look out for a full review of Maria’s presentation, by Ant Peters, with photographs from J Roger Howard, in Todmorden News, in the next four weeks.

Our next Members’ Meeting will be Thursday 16 March and our speaker will be Alan Hemsworth; his subject, the Riddle of Humpty Dumpty.

Your committee look forward to seeing you

Ernie Rogan Chairman.

January’s Monthly Meeting

Chairman’s report on the January 2017 Member’s meeting

Greetings to all members. Your committee hopes that this year will be an exciting one for all members, with our three projects.

Our Memory Day is now fully booked, with a small waiting list. There will be a full report in February.

The History and Research project will be launched, next month, by our former Chairman, Keith Coates. Keith will give full details at our February meeting.

This month we launch our “Impairment project”. We would like members with hearing, sight, and mobility issues, to form a working group. We would like the group to look at what they think we, as a committee, could try to do to improve their experience of U3A Todmorden; to look at possible solutions, costs, sourcing, and then advise committee so that we can, hopefully, put these benefits or improvements into place. I would ask any interested member to pass on their name to our Group Co-ordinator, Gail Allaby, at We are pleased that John Taylor, Chairman of the Blind Society and also Todmorden Talking Newspaper has agreed to offer his help.

We have received a card from Dementia Friendly Todmorden, thanking those members who knitted “twiddlemuffs”, which are now being donated to local Care Homes.

The Town Council is running a series of Workshops for the Todmorden Neighbourhood Plan: Future Key sites; Future of Housing; Local Infrastructure. Full details are in this week’s Todmorden News or can be obtained from the Town Council.

Some not so good news. We do not have any volunteers for refreshments for the next four months. Therefore, unless members step forward, there will not be any tea/coffee/biscuits at the start of our Members’ meetings until June. Any volunteers should pass their names to Alison Greenwood at

Four new members joined this month and on behalf of the committee we welcome them.

Our guest speaker Alun Pugh gave an interesting presentation about his father Dei and his service in Bomber Command during WW2. Alun told members of his father’s determination to be a pilot, about his training in Canada, although being told initially that he was too tall. Alun read extracts from his father’s diaries, recounting the operations he carried out. In 1944, a day after completing his dinghy training and following a raid on Berlin, Dei had to ditch into the sea, with his crew, and regrettably several members drowned or died of exposure, leaving only two crew members alive. Although a serious subject, Alun managed to inject humour into his presentation.

To remind members, our next meeting will beon Thursday 16 February 2017, when Maria Glot will be speaking about Titus Salt and Saltaire.

Your committee looks forward to seeing to next month.

Ernie Rogan Chairman

December’s Monthly Meeting

Chairman’s report on the members’ meeting, 15 December 2016.

Greetings to all members. This report will be quite long; some light reading over the festive period.

My week started listening to Eric Midwinter, on You and Yours, talking about the growth of U3A. 35 years earlier the programme had championed U3A. Now we have 1001 groups and 384,000 members and still growing. I am proud to be a part of this excellent organisation.

There was a smaller than usual attendance at our Christmas meeting. We welcomed our Town Mayor, Cllr A H Greenwood, also a U3A Todmorden member, and his Mayoress.

In committee we have been challenged about welcoming new members. Gill Radford, our Vice Chair writes: “After volunteering to be the link person welcoming new members to U3A Tod’s monthly meetings, there were indeed four potential new members, to whom I managed to chat. They showed an interest in French Conversation, Art, Science and Philosophy, so please be prepared to make them welcome in your groups. I am certain they, in turn, will be able to make suggestions, with ideas from Oxfordshire, Cambridge and London.”

Our entertainment was provided by our quiz team, ably led by Myrna Beet, who provided a variety of questions; general knowledge, music, pictures. Many thanks to them for their hard work.

John Wallis gave us a short history of Variety and Music Hall, originally called Harmony Meetings, which started in the East End of London and were for males only. John then went on to talk about his favourite “daft humour”: mainly Northern. He spoke about George Formby, who made 22 films, and many other Northern comics. John told his favourite jokes and regaled us with his expertise on the tenor banjo, mandola and ukelele. Finally we joined John in traditional songs and ended with a good sing-a-long with Christmas Carols.

Next year we hope to offer members some projects. Firstly will be a Memory Day on 22 February and this is detailed below.

Early in the New Year we hope that Keith Coates, our former Chairman, will lead a research project. U3A Todmorden will be ten years old very shortly, and we would like to start a History of the Group. We will write to the members who joined first, the original steering committee and committee members, asking them for their memories. We will hope to build on this and find out about our membership and compare it with our local population. Keith will give details on his return from the USA.

Finally, we would like a working party formed by members who have impairments; hearing, sight and mobility. The committee would like them to look at what is required to improve their experience of U3A; to try and find possible solutions, and costs, and then advise committee to see if funds are available. There will be more details in the New Year.

I thank all committee members for their hard work this year and wish all members a Happy Christmas, a safe and healthy New Year, and that we can all meet again in 2017.

Ernie Rogan Chairman

Memory Day 22 February 2017

We have arranged for a Memory training day to be held at Central Methodist Church on Wednesday 22 February 2017, from 2.00pm to 4.00pm. The presenters will be two members of Heswall U3A.

The first 70 minutes will be details of how the brain works, followed by hints and tips of how to train the memory.

We will then have a short refreshment break and continue with a period of interaction and practice.

We can only have 20 members per session, so it will have to be on a first come basis. There will be a charge of £5 per person to cover expenses.

Members who are interested should contact me either by email: or telephone 01706812015.

If the event is successful and there is sufficient interest, we will try and arrange another session later in the year.