Enjoy your third age

MORE than 100 people came to Page Park to find out more about a group helping older people to ‘learn, laugh and live’.

Visitors tried out Tai Chi Shibashi Chinese exercise techniques, had a daytime disco, open day and informal social event organised by Bristol u3a, as well as taking part in volunteering activities in the park.

The Learn, Laugh, Live event in October was part of the Bristol Celebrating Age Festival and was supported by charity Age UK and the Friends of Page Park.

Volunteer-run Bristol u3a is a part of the international University of the Third Age movement and aims to provide opportunities for people who are no longer in full-time employment or raising a family to learn new things, take part in activities and pursue interests.

October’s event was run by Lindsay Gough, one of Bristol u3a’s trustees, who lives in Emersons Green.

Lindsay said: “I’m a fit and active 67-year-old and have noticed that there’s very little around that targets people like me. 

“Bristol u3a fills that gap brilliantly, as our interpretation of ‘lifelong learning’ is as broad as it can possibly be.

“It costs just £20 a year to become a member and once you’ve paid that, you are not charged any more money to participate in activities. 

“We have over 150 diverse interest groups running across Bristol which include physical activities, discussion groups, academic subjects and social groups.”

Bristol u3a has more than 1,400 members, around 250 of them in East and North-East Bristol. 

Groups range from cycling, motorcycling, walking and table tennis to film, book, rock’n’roll and art appreciation. Some groups play games including bridge, Scrabble & Mah Jong while others learn French, Italian and Spanish conversation, with family history and writing groups also in the pipeline.

Lindsay said: “We are completely volunteer-led. Everything we do is by the members, for the members. 

“Interest groups are run by members who either want to share their passion for a subject or by someone who’s always wanted to learn about a ‘thing’ and has assembled a group of ‘fellow explorers’. 

“Anyone can start a group – each one is just a group of people coming together to share an interest.

“There’s no lower age limit, but most of our members are in their late 50s upwards.”

Lindsay said the week of events in Page Park showed there was a “big appetite” for u3a activities, with some people joining up straight away and others asking to keep in touch.

Anyone who would like to find out more about u3a can email learnlaughlive@bristolu3a.org.uk for more information.

The group also has a website at u3asites.org.uk/bristol/home, which includes details of all the groups currently running.