News and Reports

North West Region Project

We are part of the North West Region of u3as,  all 100 plus of them.  From time to time the regional committee organises events and projects for their membership.  “My Street” is the latest one with an aim of fostering local and regional involvement, pride and awareness – a sense of place to present to the outside world.  It’s described as a Collaborative Project.

The project will be a collection of images – photographs, paintings, drawings, embroideries, accompanied by some words to tell the story behind the image.    It can be done by individual u3a members or groups. The image should be of the local area – the street where you live.

If you would like to take part or to find out more about this project then use this link for My Street – North West Region of u3as Collaborative Project.

Speaker Meetings

Speaker Meetings are back!

The following dates have been confirmed – these meetings will all take place via Zoom, for Aughton & Ormskirk u3a members, at 11 am on the date shown. Put the dates in your diary and email to register your interest, including a phone number please. I will send you the meeting codes in due course.

If you don’t feel comfortable using Zoom, help is at hand! Follow this link to see what’s available: Zoom Support Page

Note: Some devices have trouble linking directly to your email using links on our website such as the above.  In this case, just load your email app and copy or type the address into the To field and carry on with your reservation.

4th March          Stephen Wells: The Curious Incident of Agatha Christie

1st April             Andrew Thwaite:  Title to be confirmed, but definitely chocolate related!

3rd June            Fool’s Gold: Musical duo

8th July             Carolyn Kirby: Women with Wings

Stephen Wells

Stephen Wells talks about The Curious Incident of Agatha Christie

On Thursday 4th March professional entertainer Stephen Wells will speak to us on ‘The Curious Incident of Agatha Christie’.

On December 3, 1926 the then 36-year-old Christie left her home in Sunningdale and drove her Morris Cowley towards Surrey. The next morning the vehicle was found abandoned with a fur coat and a driving licence left inside.

Her disappearance sparked an extensive manhunt, with over 1,000 police officers and 15,000 volunteers searching for the author, as well as newspaper adverts urging any members of the public with information to come forward.

This fascinating talk looks in detail at what really happened, takes an in depth look at her most famous novels and examines the famous portrayals of her celebrated detectives Miss Jane Marple and the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot.

Stephen has appeared on numerous television and radio shows and has also worked extensively for cruise lines such as Cunard and P&O. He has been a member of the Magic Circle for 45 years and regularly speaks to u3a, Probus and WI groups in the Yorkshire area. Do make a note in your diary for what promises to be a very entertaining talk!

Andrew Thwaite

Thursday 1st April will see the welcome return of chocolatier Andrew Thwaite, who entertained us in 2019 with a demonstration of chocolate making, accompanied by amusing anecdotes and samples at the end. At the time of writing Andrew has not confirmed the title of his talk, but it is sure to be equally entertaining.





On Thursday 6th May we will welcome Mason Bee expert John Whittles, who will explain the importance of this tiny, endangered creature, and how we can help safeguard its existence. Mason Bees are gentle, solitary bees who make their nests in hollow spaces, not in hives. They are very important and efficient pollinators, and their numbers are in decline.


On Thursday 3rd June we will be entertained by Fool’s Gold, alias Carol and Steve Robson. Carol and Steve have been performing their unique shows for some while – long enough to rack up over 100

Carol and Steve Robson

0 performances which have been delivered to audiences all over the UK. Since the pandemic began, they have adapted their performances so that they can be delivered very effectively via Zoom.

Steve and Carol write:

Dark Light is the new Fool’s Gold zoom show for 2021. It has been created as a wholly new show specifically for Zoom using some of the clever functions available to build a fascinating and creative show. This time we have connected the songs to one story: a fascinating mystery based on a wholly true history from 1900 … and it’s amazing how many songs of the time that you will know, smile, and sing!

Many of you will remember Carolyn Kirby, who spoke to us last year about the background to her first book, The Conviction of Cora Burns. Carolyn will be speaking to us via Zoom on Thursday 8th July on

Carolyn Kirby

the subject of the background to her new book, When We Fall. A gripping second world war thriller, When We Fall was chosen by The Times and Sunday Times as one of the ten best historical novels of 2020,  and is due to be re-launched in the spring.

Carolyn says: “This illustrated talk tells the story of how I came to write When We Fall through the lives and careers of four female pilots of World War II.

The original inspiration for my novel lay with the amazing airwomen of Air Transport Auxiliary who overcame many barriers to fly warplanes from factories to RAF airfields during the war. My talk will focus on three of these women, including Amy Johnson, highlighting the glamour, excitement and daily dangers they faced in the skies above wartime Britain.

Flying in even more perilous skies was the Polish air force pilot, Janina Lewandowska, the real life character who is at the heart of the fictional story of When We Fall.
Janina was a pioneering aviator and the only female victim of the notorious 1940 massacres of Polish prisoners of war by the Soviet Union at Katyn – the real event that underpins my novel.

Using photographs and visuals, I will explain how, over more than ten years of writing, my novel was shaped by the lives and fates of these remarkable women.”

The talk will be followed by an audience Q & A and a chance to buy a signed copy of the novel.

Full details will be published nearer the time, but in the meantime, if you are interested in watching any of these talks, please email, and I will send you the links in due course.

I will post further updates as and when I am able to confirm them.

Pam Ball

See Pam’s Past Speaker Meetings for info on last year’s events.

Please email any ideas for Future Speaker Meetings to Pam Ball, our Speaker Meeting Organiser,  at:  or phone 07974 749362.

The Census is coming! 

As everyone knows, the Census comes once every 10 years.

And this year, it’s on 21st March.

If you have questions such as Why do I have to complete the census? What information do they want? or Is it used for more than just family history research? you can get the answers from Lauren Mullen, the Census Engagement Manager for West Lancashire, who has offered to talk to us via Zoom.

If you wish to join this Zoom session, please email and we will send you an invitation to a Zoom meeting to be arranged in mid-March.

See also Lauren’s email about the Census.

Diana’s Funeral

Diana’s Funeral by Margaret Kitchen

Journalists go out on assignments with the intention of observing, questioning and reporting. We don’t go with the idea of expressing our personal opinions.

So when, the day before Princess Diana’s funeral, I was boarding the London bound train, I was ambushed by a local TV company asking for my views, I was taken aback. In the maelstrom of the hysterical days since August 31st I had been busy reporting on the situation and had not had much time to consider what I thought.

I can’t remember what I said before they released me to gain my seat. However, the ride from Liverpool to the capital gave me time to think. I am not a royalist and I was aware that Diana had clearly been duped into a loveless marriage at the tender age of 19. Her experience and the tragic outcome was clearly a lesson for other bedazzled young women who need their own family to open their eyes.

Dusk was falling as the train pulled into Euston and I took a taxi to Kensington Palace, Diana’s home, where crowds had gathered. I walked among dazed, sad people and watched grown men cry and couples comfort each other. Candles flickered and the smell of the mountain of dying bouquets filled the atmosphere like heady incense. This was a very un-English scene. It reminded me of Mexico in the cemeteries on the day of the dead, when ancestors were remembered.

Yet, later that evening I dined with friends in a restaurant about a mile away where there was not a hint of mourning. Chat and laughter filled the packed room as people relaxed after a busy week of work. It was no different from any other Friday evening. Yet it was so different from the anguished scene nearby.

I had planned to rise early in the morning to take my place on Whitehall among the crowds to cover the procession to Westminster Abbey. As it turned out, however, all the hotel guests were awoken at 5am by the fire alarms ringing loudly. We dashed out into the street, wearing our coats over our nightwear, thinking this might be a dramatic omen for the day ahead. Instead we found the alarms had gone off by accident.

It was 7.30am by the time I walked into Whitehall to find a spot to stand to watch the procession and try to interview some of the mourners. It would be another three hours before the cortege appeared; it was going to take some stamina to stand there on that chilly September morning with no bathroom facilities available.

As I walked on I could see the crowds on both sides of the road. People had got up much earlier than me to get a good vantage spot. As I got nearer I was struck by the stillness of the crowd. Then I realised that it was largely silent. It was quite unlike most gatherings. People were already paying tribute to the deceased Princess who had died in a Paris tunnel. It was humbling.

I stood among some families, mostly Londoners, who told me, grimly, that Diana should not have come to this. There were flashes of anger in their eyes along with sadness. The Royal family was not top of their favourite people list.

Eventually the gun carriage carrying Diana’s coffin came into view behind us and some people began to cry and others let out sounds of grief. The white floral tribute at the back of the coffin spelled out the word ‘mummy’ and shoulders shook at the sight of it.

Then came the unforgettable scene of the two young princes walking between Prince Charles, Prince Philip and Earl Spencer, their father, grandfather and uncle. It was not the grown-ups we were all focussed on, but the sight of the boys. Prince William, aged 15, with his head bowed and his body looking frail; Prince Harry, aged 12, doing his best to maintain a mannish ramrod stance while his face told a bereft tale.

Parents glanced at each other as the youngsters passed, silently asking each other why these boys had been coaxed to undertake such an ordeal before the watching world. ‘Cruel’ was the unspoken word between them.

I rushed back to my hotel room to file copy and found the Filipina maid sitting on the bed watching Earl Spencer in the Cathedral condemning the Royal family. “Who is he?” she asked me, her eyes full of tears. “Diana’s brother,” I replied. She nodded sagely while I wondered where he had been throughout his sister’s suffering.

On the train back to Liverpool, a conductor soon turned up and asked me if I had been to the funeral. Absent mindedly I said yes, I was covering it for my paper. His face glowered and he threw my ticket on the table.

“It’s you lot that killed her,” he shouted and walked out of the carriage.

Did we?

Signs of Spring

Since entering social isolation started early last year, we have covered the times and seasons in various website ‘galleries’ filling them with items sent in by our talented members. To refresh your memory, do revisit:

  • West Lancs in Bloom – galleries set up following a request, early on in the first lockdown, to members for photos taken when  pottering in the garden or out on their daily walk.
  • Gardening Group Gallery – a cornucopia of beautiful summer blooms.
  • West Lancs in Autumn  – gallery of great photos (plus a poem) with a seasonal theme.
  • Christmas Card Gallery – a seasonal webpage contains a miscellany of festive contributions sent in by our talented members.  It started off as photos of cards designed by members to convey greetings within our u3a, then expanded to include crafts, a poem and short stories.

The first lockdown started in March 2020, so we missed late Winter and early Spring. This new Gallery, on the theme of  ‘Signs of Spring’ aims to fill that gap. We wish too that it will give members cheer that warmer and brighter weather is on its way, new life is returning to the world and there is renewed hope for a safer and more carefree future.

Many, many thanks to all contributors so far. This Gallery is work-in-progress.  If you snap any other ‘Signs of Spring’ in your garden or on your walks in February or March, please do send them to us at  As well as flowers, bushes and trees, we particularly welcome relevant images pics of birds, bees, butterflies and other insects, new life in farm or field such as lambs, and country and garden wildlife awakening from winter slumbers.

Moving Forward into Spring

(Click on any picture to move through the slideshow.)

* Note – According to Wikipedia, the Green Man is a “legendary being primarily interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of new growth that occurs every spring.”

Many of the first photos sent in were of snowdrops.  So here is a poem from our resident poet, Judy. Although written a few years ago, it is particularly pertinent to 2021.

The Snowdrop

Leading us into a warmer direction
Taking us forward away from the snow
Away from the wind and the cold that will go.
As we see Spring colours starting to brighten
And the days grow longer in order to lighten
Projecting the warmth that will help us to cope
We will all move forward into seasons of hope.

Judy Ingman, Jan. 2018.

Early Spring Bulbs and Flowers


Early Buds and Greenery

Speaker Meetings are back!

The first meeting took place via Zoom at 11 am on 4th February when Julia Clayton  provided us with a fascinating talk on the topic of What did the Spartans do for us?  Details of this and future Speaker Meetings already arranged for 2021, including how to sign up to attend, can be viewed on Pam Ball’s Speaker Meeting webpage.

If not familiar with joining in remotely, check out Zoom Support for help.

Geology Lectures for u3a Members

Although the Earth/Geology Group is currently suspended locally, the National u3a is putting on free Geology talks that members can attend via Zoom. Full details and booking are available on the online events page of the National u3a website. There are a couple of relevant topics in March.  They are repeats of very popular talks earlier in the year.  Be aware – places at u3a online events have to be limited and are snapped up.  So sign up ASAP!