Toast to Salford U3A

Harry Sutcliffe
Harry Sutcliffe

Written by Harry Sutcliffe on the tenth anniversary of Salford U3A – 16 August 1996:

In our celebration today, we look at the present and look back ten years to our beginning in 1986.

I beg your indulgence while I tell you the story of my own introduction to Third Age Education, with apologies to those among you who have heard it before.

In the summer of 1986, I was on a walking tour in the Pyrenees with two friends, Gordon and Stan. We were on the GR10 Grande Rondonée, heading up the valley one fine morning to Lac d’Or. We reached lake level and there outside the refuge was the lady Warden, hanging out the washing. Stan, who is fluent in French, greeted her with something like ‘Bonjour madame, il fait beau temps ce matin n’est pas?’ To our surprise she replied ‘Yes I think it will stay fine and dry my washing’’.

We asked where she learnt to speak English so well and she replied ‘En Toulouse, dans le Université du Troisième Age’. Stan explained the meaning of the phrase to us and we said adieu and pressed on.

A few days later when I got home, Betty explained how Helen Wickham and Jim Soulsby had co-operated in launching Salford U3A, a meeting had been held at our house with the result that Betty was Chairperson, Edna Nuttall was Secretary, Alan and Lucy Marsh were Treasurer and Membership Secretary. Helen was on the Committee as was Edith Houldsworth and one H Sutcliffe was Convenor of the Walking Group, I was told.

That was in 1986. The City of Salford gave generous support with accommodation, classes were held, able and active members appeared, and we grew. Much hard work has been done by committee officers and members, by convenors and leaders, and by a largely committed general membership.

And now we have 28 groups and 288 members with the common aim of preserving active and productive minds in our Third Age.

Yes, and I propose a toast to U3A and particularly Salford U3A, that is OURSELVES.

Harry Sutcliffe, 1996