Ramsey and District U3A


A warm welcome to all our members

Our March general meeting took place to a capacity crowd at the Community Hall,

The chairman welcomed all to the meeting, notices were read and included the lack of parking spaces now that the Co-op has closed, it was suggested that car sharing might be a way of reducing the problem. 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 meetings. Proposals need to be with the membership secretary by 31st March, any questions on the accounts to the treasurer by 31st March, please.

Enid then spoke of two new groups, “History,” opening on 30th March and “The Gardening Group”, forming by the end of March. She reminded everyone to keep a look-out on the U3A National Office website for courses and events. New for 2017 were a series of Knitting and Stitching shows in various locations in Great Britain, let Nina know if you are interested in going. On 22ndJune a “Writing for Pleasure” event will take place at Ramsey Community Centre – first come, first served!

John Austin then spoke of day trips which had been planned for the next few months, to Hatfield House on 21st April approximate cost £17.50. On 30th May, a visit to the Nene Valley railway, using one’s own transport, lunch and with a conducted tour around engine sheds. Then on 23rd June, an evening visit to Tolethorpe Hall, where “Much Ado About Nothing,” will be performed. In September 2018, the Holiday Group are planning a visit to France to visit WW1 sites, approximate cost £400.

The chairman then introduced the afternoon’s speaker Mandy Corney, her subject, The Great Fen and in the Spitfire Excavation Film. Mandy is a Great Fen Support and Admin Officer.

On the 22nd of November 1940, a Mark 1A Spitfire X4593, on a training exercise from Royal Air Force Wittering – part of 266 Squadron and flown by Pilot Officer Harold Penketh, 20 years old, with 13 hours’ experience – suddenly dived into the ground at Holme Lodge and unfortunately the pilot was killed.  Spitfire X4593 was built at Eastleigh, Hants and was credited with destroying one German aircraft during the early days of the war. The Spitfire carried the name “Kerla” after the SW Indian state, where readers of the ‘Madras Mail’ had donated money to purchase this machine as well as two other Spitfires.

The film opened in October 2015, with eye witness accounts of the crash and the difficulty in recovering the body from the Fen, the original dig was by hand in very wet conditions and reached 30 feet down.  A lot of local people remembered the accident and as 2015 was the 75th anniversary of the battle of Britain, it was agreed that the dig should go ahead before the water level in the fen was raised as part of the new landscape.

Using mechanical means, the dig proceeded, until by day 4, clay was reached and it was at this level that the engine and propeller were uncovered. It was here that human remains were found, some small bones from the remains of Harold Penketh. The dig stopped and a small service of remembrance took place, honouring his memory. At the same time, a lone Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over the site, in a mark of respect. Ex-service men were employed under Operation Nightingale to assist in the dig, this helps to develop skill sets following post dramatic stress.

Ammunition, had to be dealt with and the Bomb Disposal Squad removed and destroyed them. The engine and propeller were removed to RAF Wyton for specialist cleaning and are now on display along with the instrument panel.

Harold’s relatives, Valetta Cranmer and Sheila Morris were interviewed and spoke about Harold and his early life as a gardener and that the family were from a farming background.  Harold’s cigarette case and cuff link were presented to them. A monument was unveiled at the site and was consecrated by the Bishop of Huntingdon.

The chairman the thanked Mandy for showing us such a wonderfully moving film.

Competition winners for our “P” subject, first was an old family photograph by John Taylor and the second, a knitting pattern by Dorothy Hambleton-Mellor.

Our next letter for the competition is ‘Q’ and will take place at a future meeting.

Future Open Meetings

Our Annual General Meeting will take place on Tuesday 11th April 2017 at the Community Centre at 2.00pm

Other News

A study day will be held at the Ramsey Community Centre on 22nd June from 10.00 to 16.00.

There will be a guest, Alison Bruce, who teaches at Anglia Ruskin University and is a prolific writer of prose fiction, who will spend the day with us doing a couple of topic focussed presentations, plus joining in with us as we do several fun activities on the spot.  Alison will also tell us about her own experiences of becoming a writer.  There will also be a session on specific areas, including dialogue, genre, mood etc.  There will be a feedback question and answer session to finish off with.

This study day offers members the chance to be with writers from across the region, sharing ideas and experiences, experimenting with different techniques and hopefully moving forward personally.

If you book a place for this study day please let Bill Thompson know, as he is keen to increase the numbers of his group, and he would like to know who is going, ann_bill@btinternet.com Thank you.


A reminder to members, that their subscriptions are due for renewal on the 1st April and anyone not renewing by 31st May will be assumed they do not wish to renew their membership.

U3A Events

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

West End Sing Out: 9th May 2017 at the Savoy Theatre, Strand, London, WC2R0ET 10.30 until 16.00 Ticket Price £36.50

More details from the Third Age Trust magazine “Third Age Matters,” dated February 2017 or www.u3a.org.uk.

If you are a keen researcher or would just like to learn more about research there are two things you might like to look at,

A “Getting Involved in Research” Book recently published by National Office which gives lots of advice and ideas and can either be ordered from National Office or downloaded from http://www.u3a.org.uk/members-area/the-third-age-trust-2/research-sub-committee.html

The National Research Database where there are over 600 projects listed fromhttp://u3aresearch.org.uk/


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 www.tvlicensing.co.u/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.

And Finally

Car Parking – Please remember to park your car considerately and use car sharing, if you are able.


Mahatma Gandhi often walked barefoot which produced an impressive set of callouses on his feet. He also ate very little, making him rather frail and with his odd diet he often suffered bad breath. This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed with halitosis.

Editor: Mike Lewis