March’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings to all.

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


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

Short Talk

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

Main Speaker

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

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

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

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

News Letter

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

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

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