News and Reports

Age UK during the Coronavirus Pandemic

A message about Age UK Lancashire from U3A Trustee, Sue Watkinson:

1.  Age UK continues to support older people during the Coronavirus crisis.  Services are available by phoning the central number 0300 303 1234 or email

The office is Ormskirk remains closed but the staff still offer these services to our community:

– Providing shopping services and collecting prescriptions
– Taking people home from hospital and settling them in
– Good Day calls – a telephone call to check well-being every day
– Information and Advice
– Dementia Support

2.  Another initiative from Age UK is a Zoom online Dementia Support meeting.  This is being run fortnightly on Friday afternoons to provide support and socialising for carers of those living with dementia.  There is usually a Guest Speaker.  They provide help to use Zoom or there is a telephone option if preferred.  A computer or tablet is needed but they have some available on loan.

Contact Anne Oliver on 07807 338783 or email

3.  And finally, Age UK has a project ongoing called the Art of Isolation.  They are collecting examples of art/craft, poems/ short stories, photographs of newly made garden features or anything that has been created during lock-down.  A Lancashire storyteller and curator is working with Age UK to collect and assemble the examples into a professional publication.

If you would like to make a donation in the form of a photograph or text document then please contact me in the first instance and I will forward them onto the appropriate person at Age UK Lancashire.

Sue Watkinson on 01695 422423

Our Virtual U3A

A number of Groups (and Organisers of other events and individual members) are being very innovative in carrying on remotely! See below for the examples we know about so far. And please send the Web Team examples of U3A Remote Activities that we don’t yet know about.

  • Bridge Group is doing an excellent job of keeping going virtually! See Bridge Group during the Lockdown.
  • Computer Advice –  remote support by email (any time – using elearning@aughton- and by phone (on Mondays and Tuesdays only, at the usual session times – see enews sent out on 8 April)
  • Choir – Is it true that some U3A singers are following Gareth Malone on YouTube? See this Classic fm article on the Great British Home Chorus.
  • Creative Writing are very creatively keeping in touch and developing stories and poems using technologies such as WhatsApp eg see Creative Writing Group During Lockdown.  They are also running a Short Story Competion open to all members.
  • Country Dancing write in the enews of 1 Apr 2020, 10:42  “We’ve set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch & cheer us up.”  See the enews item for contact details if you’d like to join in.
  • Digital Photography – still running its popular Photo Competition. Get snapping!
  • The Drama Group is continuing to meet via Zoom. They report …..”At the moment we are not rehearsing for our next play although we may do at some point in the future ………. we are enjoying reading plays”.
  • French Conversation is conducting Zoom meetings. (There is very helpful How To guidance on Zoom on the Third Age Trust (TAT) website.)
  • Gardening Group  members have been sending out most informative newsletters via Beacon emails including quizzes, jobs in the garden and hints on where to order garden-related supplies.
  • German Conversation are keeping in touch eg by email.  Homework is made available by the Group Leader. And a member is seeking out and sending  items to cheer up the others in the class.  Good idea!
  • Italian – We have heard through the grapevine that the Tutor is setting homework and conducting Zoom meetings. There is very helpful How To guidance on Zoom on the Third Age Trust (TAT) website.
  • Latin & the Roman World Group is carrying on regardless while maintaining social distancing. See the Latin in Lockdown Group Post as an example of their virtual activities.
  • Philosphy – The Leader, Tim Miles, has set up an outlook email group to which group members, or others, can be added at their request. He has also had email exchanges re philosophy with group members.
  • The Poetry  Leader, we have heard, is sending members suggestions for a daily poem. If that is correct, do please send us a list of poems we can all enjoy.
  • Science Group Leaders, Jack and Alan have set up a new Group – Science during Lockdown.  It features a Daily Science Snippet, Science Jokes and Cartoons, Illusions, online Science Quizzes that any member can try out and links to Coronavirus articles.  If your Group would like to know how to produce a Quiz, contact the Web Team via the email address below.
  • Snooker cannot turn up to play but they do get together remotely to take part in quizzes.
  • Spanish Conversation – Leader, Bob Sheehan is sending articles in Spanish by email to the group on a regular basis to translate at leisure during lockdown.
  • Ukulele -The ‘UKULEERS’ will still be keeping in touch with each other with items about the ukulele, including self help videos.  What a good time to learn to play the ukulele!  See the Post named Play Ukulele!  if you would like to start learning to play this instrument. . Contact Leader, Tony Crimlisk, for more information.
  • Remote help has been offered by a member on one of her interests – Geneaology.  See the enews sent out to members only via Beacon on Sat, 28 Mar, 09:21 for this kind offer and contact details. Maybe a new Group possibility for the future?
  • Various members have helpfully suggested the following ideas:

An item appeared in a recent enews saying “Keeping fit while isolating is extremely important.   There is no reason not to keep fit so have a look at these NHS videos”.

The Speaker Meeting organiser suggests having “a look at the TED talks website, which is packed with talks on all kinds of subjects”.  Some Meetings have been cancelled for the duration but alternatives are being planned – see the Speaker Meeting page.

There has been mention by a couple of members of a local (non-U3A) Zumba class already being run using Zoom. Perhaps some of our classes could carry on in this way?

Check out the Website’s  Culture at Home Post for those missing their theatre and musical outings and meetings.

  • Watch this list for  More Ideas

So if your Group has found a way to carry on regardless,  then please email the Web Team and we’ll add it to the above list. You may inspire others to have-a-go too.  If you struggle with ideas or expertise in the appropriate technologies, again contact us.  Together, we can get creative, learn and share skills,  and at the same time help members feel more connected and less isolated.


Remember too the monthly enews.  If you’d like an item to appear in it, send to the enews Editor at:


The enews editor advises trying to keep the enews items brief.  If it is too long, send it in to the Web Team instead for publishing on the Website.  The Web Team will then provide a link to be included in your shortened enews item.

If you would like to know more about some of the communication tools mentioned here and elsewhere, then there is very helpful How To guidance on the Third Age Trust (TAT) website.

Important Caveat ………….

There is often no charge for downloadable Apps and information available via the internet.  But please do remember – ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’.

Be Aware and Use with Care!

Gardening Group-Garden Visits & Photos

Lockdown 2020

All meetings are currently postponed until further notice.

Hello Everyone. Helen here from the Gardening Group. I do hope that you are all staying safe and well and enjoying your garden or outdoor spaces. 

Garden visits

For anyone that hasn’t heard, the National Gardens Scheme have started garden openings with an online booking system for visits so that numbers are limited and social distancing can work. 

79 Crabtree Lane – which our group visited last year is opening this weekend – Sunday 5th, Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th.

Hazel wood  – which our group was due to visit this year is also opening this weekend – Saturday 4th, Sunday 5th and Monday 6th.

Just go online to and click on ‘book a visit’.

Photo gallery of our groups gardens .

Following on from the earlier success of the West Lancs in Bloom galleries on our U3A Website, the Web Team are wondering if Gardening Group members would be interested in a special gallery to add to our Group Page with recent pictures of your gardens?  West Lancs in Bloom was nearly exclusively Spring Blossom, so we were thinking of a gallery this time with a theme like Our Summer Gardens during Lockdown.

Contributions can be emailed as attachments to  As the website is public, contributors should avoid the appearance in a photo of recognizable people or obtain permission from those appearing. Please provide suitable short captions for your photos and say whether you would like your name to be included or not.

Looking forward to seeing your lovely gardens. I’m amazed at how resilient many plants have been to the recent extremes of weather, gales, heatwave, drought and torrential rain ! 

Stay safe and healthy,

Pam & Helen

Creative Writing Group During Lockdown

When we heard that we’d no longer be able to meet up for our usual monthly sessions, the Creative Writing Group decided that we’d still like to write something every month and share it via email. We knew it wouldn’t be half as enjoyable as getting together but it was better than nothing. However, with the next ‘meeting’ several weeks away, someone suggested we created a WhatsApp group so we could keep in touch in the meantime. What a great idea! National lockdown was looming but we were prepared.

We’ve got to know each other surprisingly well. Through the WhatsApp chat we’ve heard snippets of lives past and seen present day photos from daily walks. We’ve even had the odd glimpse into each other’s homes via Zoom. Strangely, during this time apart, acquaintances are becoming firm friends.

One day, a bit of banter on WhatsApp sparked a couple of lines of fiction and everyone joined in adding their own couple of lines. Before we knew it we had a page-worth of words that could have been lifted from a spy novel. It was a bit of fun so we decided we’d have a proper go with a new story. We’ve written seven so far, including one round of poetry. The six of us keeping ourselves amused with these exercises are set in a new order every time and then write two or three paragraphs each, usually two rounds per story.

Follow this link to see our most recent creation!

With all of this, plus our short story competition entries, we’ve done more writing in the last three months than most of us ever do under normal circumstances and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of lockdown.

Health and Wellbeing Update

Member Julia Bate has organised a series of talks on matters relating to health and wellbeing for 2020.  Unfortunately, after  a good start, talks  arranged for March and April had to be CANCELLED till further notice due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

More recently, however, Julia has had Zoom meetings with the Patient Safety and the Patient and Public Involvement Groups attached to the North West Coast NHS Innovation Agency. Check out this useful information from these meetings.

Contact details for Julia: Members, please refer to your monthly enews or  the latest U3A Magazine.

Bridge Group during the Lockdown

John and Joan, Leaders of the Bridge Group, have sent the Web Team some very interesting news about what the Group has been doing to keep going during Lockdown. What an active and adaptable Group!


During the lockdown, we have been in touch with all the group members with a regular email contact as well as by phone. We know that all our members are coping pretty well with all the restrictions, although two members of the group have had to be hospitalised due to falls, but are recovering well. Many members are becoming more IT savvy, using online platforms to communicate with each other and to play bridge.

Just before the lockdown, one of the group, Nick Dowrick, was about to start his ‘beginners’ bridge lessons.  Following a trial with some willing volunteers from the group, who had some expertise in the game, using Zoom and Bridge Base online, he started the lessons with 12 keen students, a few weeks ago.  All the feedback is very good and the students have praised Nick’s patience and knowledge.  We hope that they continue to enjoy the lessons and look forward to welcoming them to our bridge sessions when we get back to normal.  However, the two metre social distancing rule will cause some great difficulties for us!

We also have some budding poets in the group, who have been using their extra leisure time to put pen to paper – we have ‘published’ the poems on the group emails for all to enjoy.

Joan and John

Gardening Group – June

All meetings are currently postponed until further notice.

Hello Everyone. Helen here from the Gardening Group. I do hope that you are all staying safe and well and enjoying your garden or outdoor spaces. Thank you to everyone who has emailed with comments or photos, good to hear from you. I hope you all enjoyed the quiz in the last email, here are the answers to that one and a new quiz for this month.


Copper beach(beech)
Par snips
Weeping willow
Sweet William and Stinking Willy (oh dear)
Giant Hogweed

This month’s quiz:

1. What is the popular name for the flowering houseplant Impatiens Walleriana?
2. What would a gardener do with a dibber or dibble?
3. Charles Darwin described this carnivorous plant ? the most wonderful plant in the world?. What is the name of this plant?
4. The love apple is the original name for what?
5. The Death Cap is the most poisonous variety of what?
6. What is the name given to the female reproductive organ of a flower?
7. A Kumquat is a small Japanese variety of what sort of fruit?
8. Why is reindeer Moss so called?
9. Harry Wheatcroft was a renowned breeder of what?
10. What is the name of the 3 leafed clover associated with St Patrick?s day?

Answers to be revealed next month.

A Few Jobs to do now:

Hostas are looking great now, benefitting from the winter & spring rain, keep them looking good by being vigilent in your slug prevention & control.

Thin fruitlets on tree fruit, whilst the June Drop is the fruit tree’s natural method of shedding excess fruit, you often need to thin the crop further. Cooking Apples- 1 fruit every 6ins, desert apples to one or two fruits, pears to two fruits every4ins & plums to one fruit every 2ins.  This improves fruit size & quality & as sun & air can penetrate there is even ripening.

Whilst we have had some welcome rain in the last few days, plants in pots, newly planted  & fruit & veg requires consistent & regular watering. Remember, don’t waste water by splashing it onto the leaves, it can cause scorch or mildew, water around the roots. If water is running off very dry soil, create a moat to keep the water in place.

  • Thin out hardy annuals. Be brutal – most of them (cornflowers, nigellas and English Marigolds included) benefit from spacing 30cm (1ft) apart.  Use pea sticks to support taller varieties. 
  • Next spring’s biennials, such as wallflowers and honesty, need time to establish. Both can be sown now, direct into a seedbed, spaced a couple of inches apart. Thin in three or four weeks to 30cm (1ft), and transplant to their flowering position in early autumn. If you are short of space these will be perfectly happy in pots in a sheltered spot until the autumn when they can then be planted in their final positions.
  • Deadheading flowers as they go over this month can result in a second flowering. 
  • Huge-flowered oriental poppies have finished flowering. Cut everything back to ground level, leaving no foliage standing. Feed mulch and give them a good dousing of water and the new foliage will grow back soon
  • Cut back delphiniums, right to the ground, leaves as well as old flower spikes. If you do this now, almost all plants will give you a second flush of Deadhead roses as often as you can now they’re flowering at full tilt. Snip off their browning heads to a bud or leaf below to help promote the formation of axillary buds, then more flowers will follow. Rambling and climbing roses will be growing rapidly so tie them in regularly as close to the horizontal as possible.
  • At this time of year, stems of mint will produce roots within a week if cut and placed in water. They can then be planted up, ideally in pots to contain their spread.

“There is no beginning and no end to a garden, it is a set of processes, not a product. This is what I love , this complex, interdependent evolution where you need to employ everything you have – experience, a little knowledge, craft, science, art and wherever you can a dash of poetry. Not to mention a lot of luck!”  Carol Klein.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Stay safe and healthy,