The Main Meeting is held monthly, at 10.00 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.
Upcoming Zoom Meetings 2021
Tony Brewer -People
7th July – Professor Jim Turner
Einstein for us
Members are required to request an invitation to the Monthly Zoom Meeting in response to an information email which will be sent out shortly before each meeting.
If you want telephone access so that you can listen in to the meeting, contact any committee member or tel 07565 928 992
May Monthly Meeting Report
Steve Herra – Cunard History & Glamorous Stars.
The May monthly meeting had members watching on Zoom for a talk presented by Steve Herra titled Cunard History & Glamorous Stars. Steve was a third generation Cunard employee, following his father and grandmother who had sailed with Cunard. His last ship was the QE2 where he worked as a Purser and had also met his wife. His talk was based on the history of Cunard from 1840 to the present day, during which time they had had nearly 250 liners.
The Cunard story began in 1840 when Samuel Cunard applied to take on the British Government contract to provide the first regular transatlantic steam mail service. He manged to get loans from two men to start his first fleet of 4 ships. Britannia was a first steam/paddle ship, with sails, and went from Liverpool to Halifax, and was also designed to take on passengers. At this time, they carried live cows and chickens for fresh foods. Although Charles Dickens was not impressed with the size of the cabins when he and his wife sailed in 1842.
Steve’s talk went on to describe how over the years with new ships the facilities on board were improved to such an extent that many famous celebrities wanted to travel on them, some of whom he had met. The Mauretania built in 1906, the first of the 4 funnel ships was fitted to give a country house feel at sea. The Aquitania in 1914 was even more luxurious and many stars sailed on her like Bob Hope, The Dolly Sisters, Fred Perry, Anna Pavlova, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and Douglas Fairbanks. As the ships got bigger their headquarters had to move to Southampton from Liverpool.
Steve explained how the Wall Street crash in 1929 caused problems for 1,000s of people and businesses working on the new Queen Mary and led to the merger of Cunard with the White Star Line to secure a loan to finish the building. Again, many stars wanted to travel on her like Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, the Kennedys, Cary Grant, Frances Day. Next was Queen Elizabeth in 1940 which played a role at the end of the war. Unfortunately, with the introduction of flights the number of passengers decreased and eventually they only had the 1968 QE2 left, and then the new Queen Mary, with a new edition due in 2022. Steve had many details and interesting facts to pass on about life on board all the ships, plus a few secrets and incidents. Steve still continued his interest in ships and acted as a visitor escort conducting guided tours of the ships when they were in Southampton, until Coronavirus happened!
The three ships QM2, Victoria and Queen Elizabeth
April Monthly Meeting Report
Christine Green – Working for Auntie (BBC)
The April Monthly meeting was well attended again by members on Zoom. The speaker for this month was Christine Green with her presentation about ‘Working for Auntie’, her story of working in the Graphic Design Department of the BBC at Television Centre, Wood Lane, London. From a very young age she had a keen interest in art and craft, even winning an art competition at the age of five. This was not surprising as her father was a graphic designer and mother an art teacher. She regular entered art and craft competitions and sent ideas for projects to children’s programs like Blue Peter, and had fun making short films with her father.
It was after qualifying with a degree from Kingston Polytechnic that Christine secured the job of assistant to graphic designer at the BBC. Her work was very varied over the thirteen years that she worked there, and she name dropped a number of well-known people she had worked with. A lot of her work was creating the introduction graphics for a variety of television programs. She which went on to describe how she started her work with simple story boards and would have different teams of people to work with depending what was required. This was before the digital age,so things were done by drawings, textiles and models etc to create the animation.
Christine’s talk went on to describe her work on a number of programs, with photographs and film clips to illustrate how her work developed to the final version of the introductory graphics that were shown for the program on TV. This was delivered in an extremely interesting way, with some name dropping and funny side quips. Some of the programs Christine had completed work for were; Stories from Marquez, which led on to the graphics for the Holiday Program; Our Friends in the North; Mad About Music for the schools programs; Fire in the Blood; Hamish Macbeth, which involved her buying lots of tartan; The National Trust celebration, from which she created a needlepoint kit to sell in their shops; Island Race; The Queen’s Christmas speech, which led to an invitation to the Palace; Foyles War; Cambridge Spies which was nominated for a Bafta award. Christine went on to do freelance work and to teach crafting courses for some of her favourite projects. She also co-wrote a book about contemporary needlepoint. Many members commented on how much they had enjoyed the talk with memories of the programs mentioned and the good quality of the presentation.
Programme design idea used for glasses case, later shown in a book co-written by Christine.
Design produced by Christine for a programme on the National Trust. She was later asked to create a Needlepoint Kit from the design for the National Trust to sell in their shops.
March Monthly Meeting Report
Beatrice Von Preussen – Arctic and Antarctic expeditions as an artist on board a Science ship.
Another very successful monthly meeting was held on the 3rd March with 69 members joining on Zoom. The speaker was Beatrice Von Preussen, a young artist who had been on both Arctic and Antarctic expeditions with groups of scientists. Beatrice told how her fascination with nature during her childhood led to her artwork starting with pond life. Beatrice became the Artist in residence at Battersea Children’s Park Zoo where she held workshops for children and parents. She became a Science Communicator, which meant she shared knowledge from the experts. Beatrice was invited to a behind the scenes visit to the Natural History Museum where she discovered how scientists and artists had worked together in the past to record details when there had not been any cameras. This interest led her to apply for a place on the expedition to the high Arctic on the USA chartered sail ship Antigua, for which she was sponsored by the Winston Churchill Memorial Fund. The ship sailed from North Norway but the plan to circumnavigate the Arctic was stopped by sea ice. They anchored in the ice and were floating with the ice. Beatrice went on to describe their experiences with 24 hours of daylight, the black sea, the birds and all the noises of the bearded seals below and the crashing of ice. There had been a strong collaboration between all those taking part to spark new ideas. Beatrice showed some of the etchings she had made on opened out emptied boxes like matchboxes, which she had printed when back home. She returned to hold workshops based on the Arctic. (a selection of Beatrice’s photographs and illustrations)
At the beginning of 2019 she was asked to join an expedition to Deception Island in the Antarctic with a team investigating microbial food webs. This took her through the roughest seas across Drakes Passage. The area has a lot of volcanoes which means there are hot spots amongst the cold and the snow and ice are black with ash from them. Beatrice described how uncomfortable they were having to wear huge, male dry suits because of the dangers when getting off the ship, and the weather changing so quickly. One thing that disappointed her was the penguins she had been looking forward to seeing but they just caused the most awful stink and looked quite grubby. Looking to the future Beatrice said that she thinks life is resilient and resourceful to be able to adapt. She had kept us interested throughout with her detailed descriptions and lovely illustrations.
(a selection of Beatrice’s photographs and illustrations)
February Monthly Meeting Report
Philip Caine – From Barrow to Bagdad
Philip told the story of his working life journey from a schoolboy in Barrow to working contracts in Bagdad. He had left school at 16 with his father expecting him to go to work in the Vickers Armstrong ship building yards but he wanted to work in a hotel. His mother persuaded his father to sign the apprenticeship indentures and so he started his career as a chef. As time progressed, he rose through the ranks and moved on to the Lake District, Harrogate, Cheshire, London and Paris.
After this he moved back home as a manager in Blackburn, and with a young family his wife suggested he worked on the oil rigs, which gave more blocks of social time with family. Again, he explained how he had progressed through many promotions to be on the management team for BP 17 years later.
Looking for something new next he found himself working in Algeria to run a base in the desert. The next move to a contract in Nigeria was to change his direction and involved dealing with members of the Russian KGB. He invested money in a development of his own but lost everything due to the bank collapse and at the age of 50 was a quarter of million dollars in dept. So came the move to Bagdad and a new contract working for the USA military and by 2010 depts had been paid. At 60 he took one last contract and this time with his wife, who had been his great support through all of his career went with him to Dubai. But due to the insurgence of Isis it was back to Barrow.
Philip was restless after such a busy life and again it was his wife with the suggestion of writing. He joined a writing group and at the age of 65 wrote his first book, a thriller, using his experiences. But unable to get publishers interested he set up his own publishing and printing business and now has produced 9 novels.
It was due to giving talks in libraries that he got his first invitation to speak to a u3a group and is now presenting these on a regular basis.
January Monthly Meeting Report
Patsy Rayner – The history of Japanese Gardens
Patsy has been a regular visitor to Japan for over the 23 years and during this time has learnt about the history of Japanese gardens and visited many. In her presentation she covered all aspects of the different styles of gardens and described how they were developed. She illustrated her talk with a vast amount of quality photographs. Members found her talk fascinating, extremely interesting and inspiring.
A selection of Patsy Rayner photographs that illustrate the different styles through the centuries.
December Monthly Meeting Report
Approx 70 people attended the December Monthly Meeting on Zoom. As Jack Perks was filming for The One Show we had a last minute substitute in Barry Harper who spoke about Crossing the Great Slave Lake.
Barry was a member of the first team to cross the Great Slave Lake in Arctic Canada on skis in temperatures of -55 degrees Centigrade. He gave an excellent talk about the planning, equipment required and the ordeals and adventures on the trek. Our members really enjoyed this talk and there were lots of positive comments:
“That was undoubtedly the best talk we have heard at the u3a absolutely riveting from beginning to end.”
“we did enjoy the talk on his expedition across the ice.”
“I was disappointed Jack Perks couldn’t make it but I SO enjoyed the replacement speaker. He was fantastic. Itwould be good to have him again sometime.”
Press Report – November 2020
Eastwood and District u3a have opened their monthly meetings again!
The first meeting since March was held online via Zoom on 4th November 2020 and approximately 60 members successful joined the meeting. This was a, ‘A Morning with Fool’s Gold’, who are a musical duo based in Durham. Members firstly watched a video of inspirational groups around the country who were enjoying different experiences of meetings mostly online.
Fool’s Gold Zoom Show was a selection of songs which had background stories or histories, which they gave details of as an introduction, with well-presented photographs and illustrations. These were quite varied, starting with a song about a French artist who painted Sedan chairs in the mid 1700s; next was about an American country and western singer who became known as The Sunshine Governor; then they explained the next was about the Menon Memorial Wall; next a well-known song but the story behind it came from a love story in the 1470s, with a love potion made from parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme; they finished with a melody of music hall songs. There show was very well presented and interesting as well as entertaining.
After Fool’s Gold, the interest Groups coordinator outlined the 9 groups that are currently meeting – Art Appreciation, Bird Watching, Book Group, Coffee & co, Coffee Mates, Creative Writing, Family History, French, History of England and Vegetable gardening (not winter months).The Chairman stressed that Eastwood & District u3a is still open for business and still accepting new members at this time when it is important to make contact with people.
Members were then divided into Breakout rooms with 6-7 in each and they had about 25 mins to talk together. Much of the talk for some was about getting groups up and running, possibly on Zoom. The members returned to the main room for the final few minutes and the meeting closed by 11.45 am.
Next meeting is Wednesday 2nd December at 10.00 am on Zoom with a presentation by the well-known wildlife photographer Jack Perks.