Local Community on the Front Foot

Both the Friends of Pontesbury Library’s (FoPL) attempt to retain the Community Library at Pontesbury and the associated Pontesbury and Rea Valley District University of the Third Age (U3A) are making great strides. Both are successfully raising awareness, extending their influence beyond the village and contributing to a growing community spirit.
The Friends of the Library held a very successful event at The Mary Webb School and Science College on Friday 5 May to raise funds for both the Library and the Friends of Pontesford Hill. Former Pontesbury Primary School pupil Mark Evans, MBE, who grew up in our village gave an excellent illustrated lecture on his recent expedition entitled ‘Crossing the Empty Quarter’. He, with two companions and several camels, made the first crossing of the largest sand desert on earth – the Arabian Desert – in 86 years. It had been completed only once previously. The expedition took 49 days and has attracted worldwide interest. He has lectured to large audiences at the Royal Geographical Society in London and the Explorers Club in New York and is now on a UK tour which included Pontesbury!
His excellent illustrated book of the same name, which has a forward by the Prince of Wales, is available to borrow from Pontesbury Library.
The event attracted a full house (over 200) who were thrilled with the evening and enjoyed the excellent cheese, wine and beer and as Mark did not charge a fee, raised substantial funds for the two causes. The Mary Webb school provided an excellent venue.







The audience enjoys the talk by Mark Evans.

Our annual Plant Sale on 29 April, organised by Irene Windows, was again a huge success and we are very grateful for a donation from the Steve Knightley concert on 3 May organised by Wendy-Jane Walton. It was another great community evening.
The exciting ‘Library Lottery 100 Club’ is now approaching its target size and will be launched in the fairly near future but there is still space for new members. The cost of participating in the monthly draw is £12 per year and three prizes will be drawn each month. Application forms are available at the Library and can be downloaded from the FoPL website. Please don’t wait to sign up or you may have to join a waiting list before you can participate. Don’t miss out.
For those who enjoyed the Village Quire’s delightful presentation of ‘Precious Bane’ at the Congregational Church Hall last year, it is now confirmed that the Quire are coming again on 28 October to perform ‘Back to the Garden’, a musical about the Second World. They are returning by popular request and the event is expected to be a sell-out. Watch this space.
The U3A – The Pontesbury and Rea Valley District University of the Third Age – was initiated by the Friends of the Library. It now has its own Steering Group and has rapidly developed a very active life of its own. A measure of the interest was shown by the fact that at its second open meeting in early February some 70 topics of interest and study were put forward by those attending.
At its inaugural meeting on 24 March, the Chairman Peter Traves explained the main aim of U3A which is to provide opportunities for retired persons to participate in study and activity interests. 45 members immediately signed up and membership has already (by the beginning of May) grown to 75. Annual membership has been set at £15 of which £3.50 will be paid to the U3A central organisation to cover insurance and general administration.
Fourteen interest groups have already been established and most have already met at least once. These are Local History; Family History; English Literature; Astronomy; Geology; Art History; Painting and Drawing; Gardening and Garden Visits; Walking (up to three miles); Walking (six+ miles); Table Tennis; History; Italian; and Theatre Trips. At least a further ten are in preparation including Natural History; Play Reading and Fly Fishing. Most have plenty of space so feel free to join up. A Line-Dancing Group has already outgrown U3A and meets independently on Wednesdays at the Public Hall.
Details of the Interest Groups are set out in the first U3A Newsletter which is being emailed to all members and copies are also available at the Library. For an email copy you should contact jbalmond@btinternet.com. A U3A News Bulletin board has also been set up in the Library with all the latest news. General Meetings will also be held every other month at the Congregational Church Hall. The next will take place on 28 June at which the speaker will be local author Catherine Cooper who is an active member of our local community and a member of our U3A.
The Self-help Learning Principle that is at the core of U3A’s philosophy is an ideal medium to fill the pressing need for “Third Age members of the community to enjoy learning experiences during their leisure time.” In order that all may benefit, the founding principles are set out as follows: it is members themselves who should promote the values of lifelong learning and the positive attributes of belonging to U3A; it is members themselves who should do all they can to ensure that people wanting to join U3A can do so; there is no distinction between learners and teachers, they are all U3A members; no qualifications are sought or offered. Learning is for its own sake, with enjoyment being the prime motive, not qualifications or awards.
This is your U3A. It will be what you make it!
Bob Boden/John Balmond

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