Ramsey and District U3A


News for all members


Enid gave a warm welcome to all who were attending, and read out Health and Safety notices. At next month’s meeting, a raffle will take place for a hand crocheted blanket in aid of Diabetes UK, so please bring some small change with you! Jane has two spare tickets for the 1000th U3A celebrations in London, on 22nd November, if you would like to attend, please get in touch.

Group News

‘The Holiday Group’ sign-up sheet resulted in a good number of names a suitable date for on initial meeting has been mooted as Friday 11th November, this should time for members to think up the types of holidays/short breaks they would like. ‘Table tennis’ sign-up was not so successful with only four names. Nina is now waiting to hear from the prospective leader as to what is happening. More members are still needed for ‘Writing for Pleasure’ group, Bill Thompson is the person to contact if your literary skills need improving or you have a book that needs writing!

Good news for New members

We have been able to secure the library meeting room on Friday 16th December 1.00pm until 3.00pm for us to hold a ‘Meet and Greet session,’ Emails will be sent out shortly inviting recently joined members to attend to meet members of the Committee and some Interest Group leaders. There will be a chance for you to ask questions about our U3A and the U3A movement as a whole. If you are new to the Ramsey U3A, but have been a member in another U3A we would love to hear of your experiences and any ideas which might bring new and different interest groups to being. We look forward to meeting you all on the day and hope you enjoy the tea and cake!

  ‘A Little Bit of Magic’ our very own U3A panto will take place on 13th December with two performances, 2.15 pm and 4.30pm. Tickets cost £2.00 each and will be on sale at the October 11th and November 8th Open Meeting.

The notice board has a few reminders of events happening in November and December. Please take a look at the National website where all events and more can be found.

Head office news: ‘U3A Brandenburg Christmas Concerts’ 24th Nov, ‘Much ado about Shakespeare’ 3rd Nov and ‘The Secret language of Art’ 24th Nov. More details are available from U3A Head Office, Bromley.

We are looking for volunteers to meet and greet new members by becoming ‘friends’ and help them settle-in at our U3A. Please contact any member of the committee if you think you can help, thank you.

 2017 diaries can now be ordered from the U3A at a cost of £2.00. Contact Sheila Gilbert-Hill if you would like a copy. Next year’s colour – RED.

Sources Magazine – This is the educational publication of the U3A edited by Phyllis Hughes. She would like to invite U3A Photographic Groups to submit pictures for use in the magazine, especially those that will illustrate the various topics to be covered in forthcoming editions. These are in February 2017 – Archaeology and Local History, June 2017 – Food and drink appreciation and antiques, September 2017 –  Creative writing – running a group. The editor is keen to find excellent pictures for the front cover. So come on all you budding photographers, let the U3A know how creative you can be! For more information, Sources c/o U3A National Office.

“Tales of a Storm Chaser,”

Chris Bell, our speaker today, is originally from Houston, Texas. He studied Climatology at Louisiana State University and worked for the Louisiana Office of State Climatology. During his time at LSU he spent one year studying Meteorology at the University of East Anglia as part of a study abroad program. He went on to complete a Master’s degree in Operational and Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University where he also worked for the Mississippi State Climatologist and taught physical geography to first year students at M.S.U. After his time in Mississippi, Chris and his wife, whom he met while at the UEA, decided to move back to England to start a family.

Along with his role as a Forecaster and Director of Public Relations at Weatherquest, Chris is also an associate tutor at the UEA teaching part of the Weather Forecasting course and can occasionally be seen as a fill-in weather presenter on BBC Look East. Chris has had a lifelong passion for weather and remembers wanting to be a “weatherman” when he grew up from a very early age. He is also a storm chaser and has been on many trips to the Great Plains of the United States in search of severe storms and tornadoes.

His talk started with an introduction of how he joined Weatherquest and how it was founded by Jim Bacon the BBC weatherman, after the Met Office wanted to close smaller offices and move to a central location at Exeter. Weatherquest was located on the campus at the University of East Anglia and moved into a new building, which was the ‘greenest’ new build in the whole of Europe. It used recycled furniture and thatch produced in Norfolk, the timber came from Thetford forest, but had to be sent to Ireland for treatment.

Chris is contracted along with Dan Holley to fill in for weathermen on Look East television. They have 2 min 30 seconds to put the bulletin out on the 6.30 pm show. They have no script but have to ad lib in case their slot gets cut short!

We then moved on to Storm Chasing, and experienced the passion that Chris feels for the subject. As a small boy at school, he gave out weather forecasts and kept a log of what the local newspapers published. He would have dearly loved to become an astronaut, but it was not to be. As soon as he was able to drive (16 yrs old) he started to follow storms within a 20 to 30 mile range of home. At University, he followed storms on the great plains, especially during the months of April, May and June when the tornadoes were at their greatest. It was here that he experienced hailstones as big as golf balls, lives are at stake, and the advice is always to get and stay out of the way if it gets dangerous.

He then went on to explain the different types of storm, the Hurricane forms in the Atlantic starting over tropical oceans, it forms a storm surge, moves slowly and has sea temperatures in excess of 27 degrees centigrade. A Typhoon has the same characteristics, but is found in pacific regions. A Tornado is a violent rotating column of air from Cumulus clouds, it can be up to 2.5 miles wide. A funnel cloud does not touch the ground. Tornadoes are formed from supercell thunderstorms, you need warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and cool, dry air from Canada. When these two air masses meet, they create instability in the atmosphere, this is most common in the area known as ‘Tornado Alley’ which lies between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains.

Chris concluded his talk with a series of videos, showing the power and destruction caused by Tornados, and how the local communities issue warnings and tell people to take shelter. A question and answer session completed the afternoon’s talk.


The winner of the letter L competition was David Cusworth with Fran Holland a creditable second.

Our next letter for the competition is M, which will take place at our November 8th Meeting.

Future Open Meetings

Our next Open Meeting will take place on Tuesday 8th November at the Community Centre, starting at 2.00pm. Our speaker will be Richard Westcott and his subject – ‘Confessions of a Pantomime Dame’

BOOK SWAP Margaret Thornton will be operating a “Book Swap” A box will be available for members to bring books and swap them for others. No payment is involved but we would ask members not to bring lots of books at any one time. If books remain “unswapped” in the box for more than a couple of meetings, they will be donated to Charity shops.

Other News

More from the ‘Sources’ editor, she is looking to recruit a team of volunteers with experience in journalism to take the magazine forward. The editor would like to see a more ‘newsier’ approach, but needs a network of people to dig out the interesting stories and pictures from our 383,000 members. With a team or experts across the country, Sources will be able to deliver an exciting and relevant publication. The New Year edition will include articles on archaeology and local history, the deadline for contributions will be 30th November 2016. Further details from Sources c/o U3A National Office.

March U3A are holding a Ceilidh on Saturday 19th November 2016 at the Community Centre, 34, Station Road March, PE15 9LH. Starting at 7.00pm. The Knitters Jig Band (with experienced caller) provide the music. Bring your own glass, drinks and nibbles. Tickets cost £8.00. Contact Cathy Crowther on 01354 658768 or 07722543476.


Winter Food Fair, Sunday 30th October 11.00am – 3.00pm entrance fee £1.00.

And Finally

Car Parking – Please remember to park your car considerately and use the car park adjacent to the Co-op store if you are able.


The water I was heating for pasta refused to boil, and if my 12-year-old nephew was right, I wasn’t helping by constantly checking on it.

“It’s like that old saying,” he said. “A watched website never loads.”

Mike Lewis Editor