By Vivien Scott
Although I was born in Heanor, Belper was the home of my Richardson grandparents and great-grandparents who eventually moved to Heanor for work in the coal mines. I was drawn back here in the nineties and have never regretted it, as I think it’s a lovely place to live. One of the best things I’ve done since I moved here is to join Belper U3A, which in spite of its rather a puzzling name is basically an organisation for older people, offering activities and opportunities to learn and socialise. Its name stands for University of the Third Age. The first age is your school days, the second is your working life and the third is what follows when you are no longer in full-time employment. U3A provides self-help learning which has filled the gap left by cuts in local authority adult education classes, Our membership is now around 300, taking part in over 60 activity groups. Some of these are walking, table tennis, Latin, local history, French, real ale, card games, crafts, art and cycling. Where we can, we teach ourselves, but if we don’t have the skills within our membership we employ a professional to enable us to branch out in new ways. Recently we used the Cottage Project for a craft display as part of Belper OpenHouses, led a walk round the Market Place for the Derwent Valley Walking Festival and made a contribution to Belper in Bloom. We also raised money for Strutts Community Centre, which we regularly use for our meetings; just a few of the ways in which we contribute to the local community.If anyone is interested in finding out more about Belper U3A, please come to our open meeting on the first Friday of the month from 10am to 12pm at Strutts, with a speaker, refreshments and a display of information about our groups and activities. Our website address is: www.u3asites.org.uk/belper I must end on a very sad note to pay tribute to one of our members, Sandra Bainbridge, who tragically lost her life just before Christmas. Sandra was a lively, witty and energetic member of Belper U3A. She made a valuable contribution to the organisation and will be sadly missed by our members. We are all shocked and saddened by what happened and will miss her cheerful smile and friendliness tomany who knew her in U3A. Rest in peace, Sandra!