Ramsey and District U3A


A warm welcome to all our new members

Our January meeting took place to a capacity crowd at the Community Hall, where the chairman welcomed all to the meeting and wished everyone a happy 2017, notices were read and included the Anglia network meeting at March library on 1st February. Our Annual general meeting will take place in April and three committee members are standing down – application forms are available on line or in the foyer at our next meetings.

Thanks to all who took part in our pantomime, either on stage or backstage.

Nina then spoke of two new groups which are likely to form in the next few months, “History” and “The Gardening Group”, sign-up sheets were available in the foyer. She reminded everyone to keep a look-out on the national website for courses and events. A reminder to Group leaders that attendance sheets should be with her as soon as possible.

John Austin then spoke of day trips which had been planned for February and April, the first to Walsingham Abbey on 24th Feb at approximately £30 and to Hatfield House on 21st April approximate cost £35.

The chairman then introduced the afternoon’s speaker Jason Middleton, his subject, “The Pearl – A Famous Gem.”

His opening remark was that a string of pearls was the mainstay of a jewel box, but pearls were not for everyone. The pearl, however is the most famous of gems having been a symbol of wealth and power for thousands of years. Jason has been involved with the buying of pearls for many years, he travels to the far east to buy pearls, with Hong Kong being the centre of the pearl trade.  Pearls arrive from China, Japan and Australia to be sold. Pearls come in different shapes and sizes, with a perfectly round specimen being the most expensive.

A pearl is produced when a parasite is introduced naturally or artificially into a mollusc or bivalve, the mollusc then covers the parasite in nacre (mother of pearl) and over the years, this grows into the pearl. Pearls from Australia are the biggest, with the most expensive being Black Tahitian from the Pacific Ocean, where waters are clean and warm.

Most pearls are now cultivated, where grit is artificially placed within the growing bivalve, these are hung in wire baskets and left in warm clear waters, the pearl is checked for growth and eventually will be harvested, they are then graded by hand. The pearl is checked for lustre(brightness), surface, shape, size, colour and nacre thickness. Seawater pearls grow in oysters and freshwater pearls grow in mussels.

Pearl care: Store away from other jewellery and clean with a cloth after use. The pearl is the gemstone for June.

Jason had a display of pearls, and had some pearls for sale at the end of his talk, many of our members had questions and kept him busy for quite a while. Jason does other talks on jewellery including, “An introduction to gemstones” and “Diamond, gemstone and distinction.”

Competition winners for our “N” subject, first was David Cusworth with a Netsuke group and second place went to Fran Holland for nacre buttons.

Our next letter for the competition is ‘O’ and will take place at our February meeting.


Future Open Meetings

Our next Open Meeting will take place on Tuesday 14th February 2017 at the Community Centre, when our speaker will be Clive Beeke – Local Historian Extraordinaire – and his subject “The Ramsey Abbey”

With regret, the “Book Swap” will not be reopening, Irene Lugg may be able to take unwanted books for her charity.

Other News

Just a reminder that Trips Group have arranged a coach trip to WALSINGHAM ABBEY on Friday 24th February to see their marvellous display of snowdrops.  On the day, there will be the chance to enjoy the walks through the woods and along the side of the River Stiffkey, where there are further vistas to be seen. Full details are on the Ramsey U3A website under Trips Group.

The cost of entrance to the site is £5 per person and the coach fare, depending on numbers, will be around £20.  It will be the comfortable 29 seater Dews coach that we have had quite a few times. Pick up at around 9.15 at the Ramsey Library and return to Ramsey by around 5.0pm.

If you would like to go, please contact John Austin by email at johnaustinrsm@btinternet.com


A variety of subjects will be covered by Sources magazine during 2017 and editor Phyllis Hughes would like to hear from groups specialising in these areas. The SUMMER edition will cover food and drink appreciation, antiques and international exchanges. The AUTUMN edition will look at the different ways of running a creative writing group. Please let relevant group leaders know that these topics are coming up and encourage them to contribute their articles and pictures to the magazine.

Once again photographic groups may like to submit pictures relevant to these areas, or indeed any shots they are particularly proud of. If there are other activities or items that you think are interesting, then they would also be welcomed. In the forthcoming new year’s edition, there is an article about Historic England s search for information about some of their iconic buildingsand another about cinema organs for instance.

Contact sources@u3a.org.uk for more details


If you are over 75, or live with someone who is, you’re entitled to a free TV licence.  The thing to remember is that it’s not an automatic benefit when you turn 75; if you’re eligible, you’ll need to apply.  The process is simple:  Call 0300 790 6131 or visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk/over75info .

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

“Petanque for Little Paxton” –  has been selected as one of three community groups for the Tesco Bags of Help Initiative. The project is to provide a two-lane community Petanque (French boule) pitch on the QEII Playing Field in Little Paxton.  Residents will be able to enjoy taking part in an outdoor activity which is not strenuous and it will encourage engagement and community spirit. Playing Petanque will help promote a healthier & more active life style. It will be free to use and accessible to wheel chair and mobility scooter users.
Each time you shop at Tesco (no bag purchase necessary), you will receive a blue token to vote for one of the projects and the projects will receive a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The public will vote in store from 2 to 28 January on who should receive the £5,000, £2,000 and £1,000 awards. You may like to consider supporting this project.
And Finally

U3A Events

U3A Explores Science at the RI, 16th March 2017 at the Royal Institution, 21, Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BS, 13.15 to 16.45. ticket price £21.50.

U3A Spring Concert: Step into Spring, 25th April 2017 at the Temple Church, Temple, London EC4Y 7BB, 14.00 to 16.00 ticket price £18.00

More details from the Third Age Trust www.u3a.org.uk


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


A woman noticed her husband standing on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. “Ha! That’s not going to help,” she said.

“Sure, it does,” he said. “It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

Editor: Mike Lewis