MEMBERS of Worcester's University of the Third Age (U3A) for retired people are looking to expand their numbers.

Worcester U3A chairman  Alan Russell said: “There is every possibility that when you retire you go stale. There is great temptation after a busy working life to sit down and put your feet up. The trouble is, it gets addictive and you end up just pottering about the house and garden and going downhill.

 “Some of the main aims of U3A are to encourage an enquiring mind, to make sure people don’t fade away through lack of an interest and to ensure they also retain mental agility and social contacts.”

There are 1,035 U3A groups in the UK with a total of more than 460,000 members.

The idea was first developed in France when Pierre Vellas held a summer school for retired people in Toulouse in 1972. It proved so successful the project was copied in neighbouring towns and all the year round.

Alan said:  "From this acorn U3A grew internationally, albeit in this country the format is slightly different and the Worcester group, which meets fortnightly, has a Uni Year that runs from September to April.  Although moves are afoot to hold more activities during the summer months.

 "The motto of U3A is 'Learn, Laugh and Live'. The accent is on having fun and learning in a reciprocal way. For U3A is not about studying. No qualifications are needed to join U3A and we don’t give any. We have no exams and we present no prizes. Our members share their knowledge from the University of Life.”

 Most main meetings host a speaker and the current programme of the Worcester group covers topics from Volunteering Abroad (how to use your life skills) to Folklore and Songs of Worcestershire to Working for the BBC, by former Worcester News journalist Dan Pallett.

 The Worcester group was set up in 1985 and has grown steadily over the years. Its membership now totals around 1,100 with more than 90 joining this year already. Main meetings are held on alternate Wednesdays at either the Green Centre, Dines Green on the west side of the city or St Peter’s Baptist church in Eden Close, off Bath Road, on the east.

On Monday, November 4 from 10.30am until noon in the Masonic Hall off Rainbow Hill, Worcester U3A is holding a coffee morning so that anyone interested can drop in and find out what it’s all about.

Membership costs £32 for the whole year and for that you can go to as many sessions as you want provided there is space in the group. See