When work stops, learning goes on at Falkirk U3A

University of the Third Age litter picking group
University of the Third Age litter picking group

Retired people who want to keep on learning and using their skills and creativity are invited to join a rather unusual university in Falkirk.

There are no entry requirements needed and no formal qualifications given – instead, the University of the Third Age offers a chance for retired and semi-retired people to enjoy learning for its own sake in a sociable, enjoyable way.

There are no tutors either as members of the U3A, as it is known, take responsibility for setting up interest groups that cover a range of topics.

“It’s all about lifelong learning,” said Glenn Merrett, who has just been elected to a three-year term as Falkirk U3A’s chairman.

“The members’ groups are run by members who choose something they are interested in.”

At the moment there are around 20 groups to choose from with interests such as reading, theatre, Spanish and digital photography.

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There is also a well attended litter picking group and a very popular walking group.

Falkirk’s U3A currently has 130 members, but they are keen to attract more.

“We’d like to expand because it’s a virtuous circle, isn’t it?” said Glenn.

“The more members we have the more interest groups we’ll be able to offer.

“There’s no set agenda – it’s decided by the members and you don’t need to be an expert – you just need to have an interest.

“If enough other people are interested we can set up a group.”

As an example of a new group, Glenn will be running a science group this year.

“The first thing we’re going to be looking at is plastic pollution,” he explained.

“I’m hoping members will do a bit of research and find out about causes and then we’ll do a presentation.”

Another well-established group, which has focused on family history, has now embarked on a research project to find out more about the outbreak of influenza that swept Falkirk after World War II.”

The Falkirk branch of the U3A was set up four years ago, although it is part of a national organisation.

The ‘third age’ it refers to when people are free of the responsibilities of work and child-rearing.

The U3A mainly attracts retired professionals and in addition to the groups it also hosts an open meeting every month with different speakers invited along.

“Some people just enjoy the social side of it and only come along to these meetings.” said Glenn.

“We’ve had many interesting talks, such as one on the Home Guard in Falkirk during World War.

“We’ve also had several from charities and a few from authors talking about their books.”

Falkirk U3A will hold its annual registration meeting on September 4 at 2pm in St Francis Xavier’s Church, Hope Street, Falkirk.

Anyone who is retired or semi-retired is very welcome to attend to find out more about joining the organisation.

To find out more about the groups, visit the website.