U3A gets crafty with friendships

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Sometimes it takes time for connections to be made, and friendships to develop, and the result is that sometimes both big and small things happen, writes Wetherby U3A correspondent Caroline Green.

You may well remember at one of the Wetherby & District U3A Open Meetings that we had the pleasure of welcoming Sister Agatha from the Bar Convent in York. She made quite an impression, particularly on Richard Newman, the then Group Leader of Creative Writing. Richard heard her speak again and decided to ask her if she would be happy to have him write her life story. After seeking permission from her Order, she agreed, and there followed many interviews between the two of them and much story telling by Sister Agatha. Richard finally published her life story in January this year, ‘A Nun’s Story’, and currently it’s selling globally. All of which began at a U3A event.

Maybe this is something that might happen to Harry Gration, our speaker at the recent Open Meeting; although I know for a fact that he has written several books already. This could explain why the Methodist Hall was packed to bursting for him. After a most enjoyable talk by Harry, Ian Wells, our Speaker Finder said, ‘Thank you Harry it’s been a joy!’ It had indeed.

As well as monthly Open Meetings, there are regular New Members’ meetings, and it was one of these that Jenny Moore attended last year. At the end of the meeting everyone was asked to fill in a form on which there was an opportunity to put suggestions for new groups. Jenny said she already knew that there were knitting and sewing groups, so she suggested a general crafts group. Delia Wells, U3A New Groups Organiser, arranged an initial meeting of about half a dozen interested people at which Jenny volunteered to be leader. The first proper meeting of the Craft Group was at Maureen Hudson’s house, where they organised a venue, Deepdale Community Centre, and developed ideas of how the group would run.

It was apparent that everyone in the group practised a variety of crafts and were willing to share their expertise and teach others, and this is what the group continues to do. Homework before the first meeting of the group was to make a name badge for themselves, using a craft skill they already knew. The members continue to wear them, which makes it so much easier to remember names and to make new members feel at home. Monthly meetings were started but it soon became apparent that everyone enjoyed it so much, they wanted to meet more frequently, so now their sessions are twice a month.

On my visit, I walked into the Community Centre early, as I thought, for the 2pm start to find the room was already buzzing with activity. Tables had been covered with a wonderful array of wools and craft material and everyone was busy working and chatting. This particular week, Gail, one of the members was explaining about the techniques of weaving. They had already held one week of weaving and some of the work was amazingly beautiful. There was much laughter and enjoyment as they all gathered around the table to watch Gail making tassels, inventing a whole new language to describe what was happening.

When we all went back to our tables to continue working, one of the members took a while to tell me she’d joined a couple of U3A groups where she lived previously, but didn’t find them very friendly. Then she realised, after joining the Wetherby U3A Craft Group, that sometimes you have to give things time, give yourself time, and give other people time, in order to feel comfortable with each other, let the opportunities for friendship develop, and they surely will.

If you’d like to join Wetherby & District U3A please check out the website www.wetherbyu3a.org.uk for details.