35th Anniversary Lunch

The 16th August 2021 was Salford u3a’s 35th birthday and on 23 September we held a wonderful anniversary lunch at Elm Bank in Eccles.

Below are a selection of photos from the day.

During the course of the afternoon, our ex-chair Carole Bowler was invited to give a speech during which she paid special tribute to a very long-serving and treasured member, Doreen Bradshaw. You can see photos of Doreen and Carole above. Here is what Carole said:

Hello, for those of you who don’t know me I’m Carole Bowler, a former Chairman.

We are here today to celebrate 35 years of the existence of Salford u3a, which started life in August 1986, but I will come back to this shortly.

We don’t have any of the founder members here but we have the closest thing, Doreen Bradshaw!  Please come up here Doreen.

Doreen is the longest serving current member (BUT NOT THE OLDEST!) and she joined in February 1992, her membership number is 275 (our latest recruit’s number as at today is  1452).  Some of us have seen many members come and go over the years, for various reasons. Doreen heard about us when attending Ellesmere Sports Club (she is a keen bowls fan) and another previous member, Mary Hindley, who many of you will remember, asked her to come along to a meeting (this is how many of us have joined).   She joined everything that was going, walking, embroidery, scrabble, and says today that this was one of the best things she has ever done in her life, as many of us also say. 

Many of you will know the history of Salford u3a but for those who don’t I would just like to say a few a few words about its start, which is available on our website. Betty Sutcliffe was a founder member and first Chairman.  Since then we have had  10 Chairmen:  Betty, David Butterworth, Ron Britton, Harvey Marriott, Seton Bryce, Roma Livingstone, Carole Bowler, Jean Hayton, Marlene Evans, who is here today, and of course our present Chairman, Brian Pearson.  (Sorry if I have missed anyone out).

At the 25th anniversary in October 2011, Betty said “I did not dream, 25 years ago, that this day would ever come”.  I wonder what she would say today:  Her vision and enthusiasm for learning, helping people to share their interests and starting new things was an ever-present feature of her life, together with having fun. The senior citizens of Salford and the u3a have much to thank Betty for. 

Betty was very proud of her association with Salford u3a. She said to me on one of my visits to her that the u3a had been such a valuable and important part of her life and she was sorry she couldn’t take part in its activities because of ill health. Her husband Harry was also an enthusiastic member and leader of the Walking Group. Her family make a donation to us annually in her memory.

The u3a originated in France in 1972, in England in 1982, and in Salford in 1986.  It’s an organisation for people who want to keep active in mind and body and are no longer in full-time employment, learning for the joy of it and perhaps making up for lack of opportunities in younger days.  Many friendships have been formed through joining.

Betty had heard about the u3a on the radio and she also saw a notice in the Salford Advertiser that there was to be a meeting at Eccles Library for people interested in setting up a branch in Salford (the meeting was to be run by two people already involved in another u3a).  At the inaugural meeting 15 people were expected and over 50 turned up. At the next meeting it was thought one class could be arranged, English Literature.  Other meetings followed and other groups formed quickly.  A committee was set up and Betty became Chairman, Betty’s enthusiasm and commitment throughout was paramount to its success, supported by other members of the Committee.   Apart from group activities there was also interest in national and local issues.  There are now hundreds of u3as nationally and internationally.  We have approximately 300 members now and looking for more.

I have recently received from Betty’s family notes from Betty’s diary taken nearly 35 years ago when she attended a national conference discussing the “vision” of the retired age group nationally, which is as valid today as ever, a kind of “call to arms”.  You will be pleased to know that I am not going to read these out now, but they will be reproduced in the next Newsletter. 

So now we look to the future and see how we can continue Salford u3a’s vision and development together, and wish the new Committee success with  this.  But before that back to my friend Doreen!   I am now going to ask her to cut the 35th anniversary celebration cake, and each of you will receive a cupcake.   DO YOU WANT TO SAY ANYTHING DOREEN?


Carole Bowler, ex-chair of Salford u3a, 23 September 2021