TUGGERAH LAKES U3A Inc
Presented by Tom Marish – 10 December 2008
I first became aware of U3As about 1996 (thru a Toukley acquaintance, Tom Roberts) – in particular, U3A Central Coast (U3ACC) which, it turned out at that time, was formed in 1993 as a Region of Sydney U3A and had several hundred members. Most of its activities, as now, were centred around the Gosford area but some activities were held in the Wyong Shire area, namely, The Entrance Neighbourhood Centre, Wyong RSL, Toukley RSL and Tuggerah Lakes Community Centre. I believe one of our foundation members, Jean Taylor, was a member of U3ACC Management Committee responsible for PR.
When I joined, I attended a so-called Discussion Group, the convenor of which was Val Clarke of Killarney Vale, a retired music teacher and a member of U3ACC. This had been started in 1996 by Val, who was a non-driver and felt, like some other U3ACC members, that there should be more U3A activities in the area. We met at The Entrance Neighbourhood Centre.
Val Clarke also led a Music Appreciation Class at Bateau Bay while Terry O’Brien led a class in Aboriginal Studies.
Many of our Foundation Members also attended that Group which, apart from discussions, also arranged talks by speakers – some invited but others by members of the group. I recall giving my first talks on subjects about which I know nothing, two of these being on the Australian Constitution and East Timor at a time when both subjects were in the news.
An early TLU3A member, Dorothy Hughes, ran the Book club which continues today as the Book Review Group run by Dorothy Rhodes.
Judith and I also attended some courses being run at Toukley RSL. One was on Etymology – origin of words – run by a garrulous Irishman. Another was Remarkable Mediaeval Women run by a blind lady member, Martha Foulsham. Terry O’Brien also ran some courses, one being Shamanism and Medicine; another was on Early Celts.
Around 1998, I ran a course on an Introduction to Computers for U3ACC. In 1999 a similar course was run for U3ATL and amongst others attending were early TLU3A members, Pam McGlinn and Mary Sanderson.
U3ACC Region had been formed several years before on the understanding that, when it reached a critical size, it would separate and become autonomous. This happened in 1998 and, after a large meeting of U3ACC members, the appropriate arrangements were made for the new autonomous chapter to commence in its own right on 1 January 1999.
Several U3ACC members living in Wyong Shire had long felt that activities were too much centred on Gosford and that it might be an opportune time to form another U3A in Wyong Shire which would cater more for these members.
There were about two dozen people who were interested in this “splinter” group (or chapter) and so an Inaugural Meeting was held on 2 November 1998 with 27 in attendance. It was agreed that a “U3A Association” be formed to be called U3A Tuggerah Lakes (NSW) and a steering committee was formed to determine how to do this. Those elected to the committee were:
§ President: Peter Wood
§ Vice President: Dawn Jones
§ Secretary: Elaine Callan
§ Treasurer: Cam Rhodes
§ Course Coordinator: Terry O’Brien
§ Venue Coordinator: Claire Wood
§ Publicity/PR: Val Clarke
§ Welfare: Dorothy Rhodes
§ Newsletter: Tom Marish
A Newsletter in November 1998 reported as follows:
“At a meeting, held on 2 November 1998 and attended by about 27 members of Sydney U3A and others residing in the Tuggerah Lakes area, it was resolved that an Association, to be named:
U3A Tuggerah Lakes (NSW),
be formed to promote the objects of The University of the 3rd Age.
An Interim Committee of eight persons, as shown above, was elected. The Committee will consider and make recommendations on a Constitution, Objects, insurance and whether to make application for incorporation under the Act.
It was agreed that the annual subscription will be initially $25.00 becoming due on 1 January each year commencing January 1999. The Committee will consider partial rates for new members joining thru the year and a reduced rate (probably $40.00) for couples.
Since the Central Coast Region of Sydney U3A will cease to exist on 31 December, members of Sydney U3A residing in the Tuggerah Lakes area will need to decide if they wish to:
a. remain with Sydney U3A;
b. transfer to U3A Tuggerah Lakes (NSW);
c. transfer to U3A Central Coast (NSW).
Sydney U3A have indicated that members wishing to transfer will have any subscription credit, as at 31 December, transferred to the relevant Association thus reducing the amount payable for 1999. Some members may wish to belong to more than one of the above three Associations but this will mean paying more than one subscription.
Ever since the creation of the Central Coast Region of Sydney U3A, some members living in the Tuggerah Lakes area have been reluctant to attend meetings and courses in the Gosford (area) because of the distance, poor and busy roads or poor public transport. Members living in the south have also been reluctant to come to the Tuggerah Lakes area for similar reasons.
The recent decision for Central Coast to become autonomous, the problem that many members have with attending classes and meetings in the Gosford area and the realisation that - unlike Sydney U3A - many U3A groups in Australia and overseas have small viable memberships, prompted some members living in The Entrance and Bateau Bay areas to consider forming their own group. After further consideration, it was decided to extend the catchment area to include those living to the north of Tuggerah Lake - hence U3A Tuggerah Lakes.
Much of the preliminary work of forming the new group has been done by some of the members who attend the bi-monthly Discussion Group held at The Entrance Neighbourhood Centre under the energetic leadership of retired music teacher, Val Clark.
Preliminary details of possible courses for next year are shown on the next page. Members will be advised of final details as soon as possible.”
The possible courses mentioned in the Newsletter included:
o Signs and Symbols – Terry O’Brien
o Discussion Group – Val Clarke
o Looking Around – Rambles - Eva Seale
o Introduction to Computers – Tom Marish
o Introduction to Bridge – Cam Rhodes
o Book Club – Dorothy Hughes
Matters which needed attention by the steering committee included trying to balance future income and expenses, possible venues, course matters, speakers, logo and a Constitution. Two other matters of constant concern were incorporation and the prohibitive cost of Third Party Liability Insurance.
Our intention to form such a chapter was met with shock (if not outright hostility) by the newly formed U3ACC Chapter and by Sydney U3A. The finances which we thought would come our way didn’t but, notwithstanding, we decided to forge ahead anyway and started operations at the beginning of 1999.
A Special General Meeting was held on 1 February 1999 with 32 members in attendance (two apologies) to discuss Association Rules and the relative merits of Incorporation. The meeting adopted a draft Association Rules with some amendments but accepted the Management Committee’s recommendation to defer incorporation until our numbers made it more viable.
The 1st AGM of U3A Tuggerah Lakes (NSW) was held on 15 November 1999 with 22 members in attendance. Funds at hand were $345 and total membership was 37 as follows:
Genie Watts, Peter Wood, Claire Wood
Around March 2001, we became aware of a U3A umbrella organisation known as U3A Council of NSW (* now known as U3A Network NSW Inc) and, after some enquiries, we learned that, if we joined that organisation, we could obtain reasonably priced Third Party Liability Insurance and other benefits - but only if we became incorporated.
After a lot of background work by the then Management Committee, a Special General Meeting was held on 25 June 2001. At that time, we had 63 members and about $1,500 in funds. After much explanation and discussion, the meeting resolved that we should incorporate and join the U3A Council of NSW. A draft constitution was also discussed.
By the end of August 2001, the new Constitution had been finalised and we were in the process of becoming incorporated, a member of the U3A Council of NSW and, at long last, insured. At the same time, we changed our name to Tuggerah Lakes U3A Inc. By the AGM on 30 November 2001, everything was in place.
Over the last ten years, because of a few talented Course Co-coordinators, we have developed our own course structure with a mix of:
o Talks by members and guests on a variety of subjects and themes such as Travel, Aspects of Early Australian History; Science; Art; Living in Other Countries and many more;
o A dozen or so of what I call perennials such as The Readers’ Group, Play Reading, Music Appreciation, Movie Appreciation; Cryptic Crosswords, Creative Writing, Rambles, French Conversation, Discussion Group and Mah Jong, as well as some others which are not presently current; and
o Outings by bus or foot;
Additionally, we have:
o An efficient Newsletter:
o Audio Visual equipment to show videos and PowerPoint presentations to enhance our talks; and
o Our own website.
The organisation behind this has been substantial, especially in our early formative years. It has been undertaken by many dedicated members – too many to mention here. Some have been Committee Members for many of the last ten years. Of special mention are:
o Eva Seale who has been on the Committee continuously for ten years; and
o Peter Wood and Joyce Clinch who have been Committee Members for eight or nine years.
Although there have been many Committee Members, there have only been five Presidents, each of whom served for the maximum term of two years, namely, my predecessors, Peter Wood, Eva Seale, Joyce Clinch and Barbara Skurr.
We have also developed a relationship with a few charismatic guest lecturers, principally Warren Hyslop, Clem Peters and Graham Peak.
Over the years, we have considered many different venues and tried to choose suitable ones around the shire with varying success. Originally, we met at The Entrance Neighbourhood Centre and, later, at Tuggerah Lakes Community Centre. We have also met at the Wyong RSL, at several venues in Toukley as well as a number of church and community halls around the south of Tuggerah Lake. Most of these either became unavailable or were not suitable for various reasons. We were aware of the desirability of having a home base venue and, after years of searching, found one two years ago in what is now known as “diggers@theentrance”.
As we come to the end of 2008 and our 10th year of operation, we have a membership of 125 which is down by a dozen or so from a peak two or three years ago. We also have funds of about $6,000. More importantly, we can feel proud that, after a shaky and uncertain start, we have not only survived for a decade but also successfully fulfilled our U3A charter and improved the quality of retired life for our members, both past and present. Along the way, we have gained a lot of members but lost some for various reasons.
The challenge now is to both increase our membership numbers and reduce their average age while still successfully fulfilling our U3A charter for the next decade.