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Here’s some new and some not so recent news about or associated with our group

We were very pleased to be acknowledged by local media for the presentations showcasing a number of our wonderful tutors in celebration of our 30 years in Newcastle U3A. These included:  Newcastle’s Forgotten Diva, Newcastle Herald 

By partnering with the Newcastle City Council state of the art Digital Library, our taster classes were able to be enjoyed digitally as well as by the limited number of people able to attend in person (due to COVID).  See more at Showcase Launch, Newcastle City Council Newsletter.

In July 2020 our committee surveyed the 96% of members who have an email address about their intention to return to face-to-face classes in Term 3 if these could be offered safely under Government regulations. The survey was well received with 60% responding.

Members appreciated the opportunity to continue learning during the lockdown, where they had been able to attend our courses on Zoom or via email. They also missed the social interaction that is integral to U3A activities. Those who had not been able to participate in the online courses were more likely to be keen to return to face-to-face classes or to defer enrolment altogether due to health concerns, compared with the ‘Zoomers’. 

The Committee and Program Coordination Team are conscious that online courses do not cater for all members. We are also aware that most members are defined by health authorities as being more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 if they come in contact with it.

Typical comments were:

As we’re all sensible adults I see no reason not to return.” (Non-Zoomer)

Part of the attraction of U3A is being in a class with likeminded people.” (Non-Zoomer)

I’ve really missed NU3A during the COVID… looking forward to returning when safe to do so and no one’s health is endangered.” (Non-Zoomer)

 “… appreciated the classes via Zoom but really look forward to returning in person, but realise the safest option is best.” (Zoomer)

Class all say they prefer face to face, but not wanting to go back unless very safe. Zoom is working.” (Zoomer)

Thanks for being proactive and enabling the continuation of courses through Zoom and online. Learning new things and pushing past the comfort zone is what U3A is all about.” (Zoomer)

View a short summary of the survey results.

It is with a great sense of pride that among the four Newcastle recipients of awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List we congratulate NU3A member Dr John Tierney on being awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in recognition of his work on behalf of the 400,000 Australian survivors of polio.

As President and National Patron of Polio Australia from 2012-2017 he placed Polio Australia on a sound financial footing and expanded its programs. Survivors of polio suffer what is called the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP) which has long term physical consequences, and which was not acknowledged for quite some time by the medical profession, assuming this disease had been eradicated. Dr Tierney, himself a survivor of polio, retired after seeing that the organisation was properly funded with government grants and paid staff.

A tireless worker, Dr Tierney also received an OAM, Order of Australia Medal in 2012 for services to the Parliament, education and the community. We now hope that in his retirement we may look forward to him being an award-winning author.

Newcastle U3A Writers’ anthology ‘The Tale Makers’ was launched by Sharon Claydon, MP Federal Member for Newcastle with Scott Bevan, author, journalist and playwright as special guest speaker.

Over a hundred guests were welcomed by Newcastle U3A’s President Julie Newing and Secretary Jenny Williams, Mark Lynch, M.C. and Elizabeth Elliott, leader of the Writing Group, to what was the culmination of an amazing year for the Newcastle U3A Writers.

Special guests attending were Sonia Hornery, NSW Member for Wallsend, Rosemarie Milsom, Director Newcastle Writers Festival, Laurene Mulcahy, Regional Representative for the Central Coast and Hunter U3As and Christine Gregory, Port Stephens Writer.

At the Swansea Hotel

Sharon Claydon, M.P., Federal Member for Newcastle launching
The Tale Makers with MC Mark Lynch

The event was a celebration of the warmth, trust and friendship that had, throughout the year, allowed the authors to find their own voice and share their stories without fear or favour in an environment that was safe, supportive and non-critical.

In his review of the anthology, Scott Bevan wrote: “Through their words, the Newcastle U3A Writers are more than the Tale Makers. They are life embracers. The stories of these 16 writers show that life is not just stranger than fiction; it is funnier and more tragic, it is unpredictable yet reassuring, it is harrowing and far more rewarding. From the measure of their years, from the breadth of their experiences and knowledge, and from the depths of their souls, the creators of The Tale Makers have woven stories that allow us to feel how beautiful life is.”

The Tale Makers Launchl

Scott Bevan with Bill Williamson

In her foreword to the anthology Elizabeth Elliott, speaking of the authors said: “Their wealth of life experiences in their very diverse fields was the source of stories that have made us apoplectic with laughter, angry at the cruelty and injustices of our world, cry at the tragedies life sometimes brings and marvel at the blessings of life – both mundane and magical.” And isn’t that the essence of any writer or writing group – creating a special kind of magic that can touch the heart in so many different ways. Contributed: Elizabeth Elliott, Newcastle U3A

Here’s a novel NU3A program, no room hire and so on, our very own On The Buses.  Reported by Alan West, organised by Leonie Sullivan, we had a very pleasant day travelling on three buses (13-29-14) starting from Customs House and with a very enjoyable meal and pleasant chat at the Swansea Hotel. The photo was taken by a friendly and attentive young member of staff who took great delight in doing so.

At the Swansea Hotel

NU3A Travellers at The Swansea Hotel

The lunch was all the more memorable for the fact that Margaret Covi and I each received a Tooheys’ “scratchie” with our beer and we both won a Knights Jersey. Sorry, I missed the opportunity for a photo of us modelling the Jerseys.”