Keith Banks writes:

I was very pleased to take over the leadership of this group at the suggestion of my friend & colleague Judith Hodges, as this will give her more time to run her other groups Under Jude’s leadership Discovering Dorset had run for a number of years and was so successful it has become Discovering Wessex, to provide a wider scope of local interest, expanding it to include the counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire & Somerset. Discovering Wessex is now the largest groups in the Ferndown & District U3A with over 80 members – which includes 10 new members to U3A this year.

This group is unlike other classroom & lecture based courses where the leader lectures on their given subject throughout the course – we are a self-help “Talk n’ Walk” group. The members like to research a new town or village or place of interest & give a short talk or presentation about it to the group. Then a week or so later, those who wish to, can join the group when we visit & explore the place in detail, quite often with a tea or coffee &/or lunch nearby. Members often work as a team to put a “Talk n’ Walk” together & we have plenty of experience & technical help to hand if they like to get involved with putting together a topic.

The group’s opening meeting was attended by 58 members and was held in the Barrington Conference Room on Friday 28 September, where all the new members were welcomed and the exciting new full season programme was unveiled. Then each of the members who had volunteered to take on a “Talk n’ Walk” spoke about what we could expect to see and hear about every month, throughout the year.

The first visit was when some 26 intrepid explorers from the Discovering Wessex group travelled to Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu Estate on Friday 19th October. This followed a very interesting visual presentation on the previous Friday, at the Barrington Conference Room, given to the group by Thelma Poole after some extensive research.

 

The sun shone all day for us and by lunchtime it was really warm and was thought to be “the last of the Summer Shine”. The group met for coffee in the smart café and were delighted when the staff allowed the whole group an admission fee of only £4.80 (instead of £7.00 senior rate) because of our numbers. The museum there has been extended and is a mass of information, charts, pictures, models and tableaux. You could spend nearly a whole day there learning about the history of the building of ‘ships of the line’ in Nelson’s time. The actual Hard itself with its lines of terraced houses facing each other, where some are fitted out to show the lives of the tradesmen and their families who lived there, display the hardship they endured. Some of the members took advantage of the weather to take a very pleasant half hour boat trip on the River Beaulieu down to its estuary with the Solent. The visit was finished off with some members taking lunch in the sun before returning home after a most enjoyable day.

Our next ”Talk n’ Walk” topic will be Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne presented by Pam Small and Kaye Week on the 9 and 16 of November.

Keith Banks
Leader, J1 Discovering Wessex – The Fun Way to Explore our Area