The first U3A was founded in Toulouse in 1982 and its popularity quickly spread internationally.  The main concept was that people can try out activities and skills which interest them and to teach their skills to others.  The Third Age is generally regarded as the age of retirement and day time leisure, so is an ideal time to learn something new.

Although there where U3A’s already established in Calpe, Javea, Denia and Val De Pop, the Moraira Teulada area did not have one, and it was felt that it could be something which would greatly benefit local residents.  The creation of Moraira-Teulada U3A was due mainly to the determination of the late Pamela Kershaw, President of Moraira Ladies Luncheon Club, and Sylvia Tatnell Councillor for Social Services on Teulada Council.  The Council was very supportive of the idea, and on May 5th 2008 a public meeting was held in the theatre at La Senieta in order to gauge interest in the concept.  Both U3A’s of Calpe and Javea were also supportive and at the meeting not only did their Presidents attend, but also other key members of their committees to offer advice. Their very welcome assistance and advice continued well into the first year of Moraira-Teulada U3A and beyond.

Initially there was concern that no one would come to the public meeting, however more that 200 people came and many actually joined the “new” U3A there and then. In fact the doors had to be closed as there were so many people crammed in, a safety issue became a concern, and people turned away were promised that another meeting would be held within in a couple of weeks so that they “did not miss out” on anything. It was clear a Moraira U3A was very much needed.

Subsequently a Steering Committee was formed and the also many volunteered to become Group Leaders. The first official meeting was held in June 2008 again in La Senieta, although it quickly became clear that this was not going to big enough to hold everyone who wanted to join.  In November 2008 a permanent committee was elected at the first AGM, and many of the original Steering Committee stayed on.

The Steering Committee was formed with Don Roberts being the first acting President, Pamela Kershaw was Vice President. Margaret Roberts and Linda West were the first acting Secretary and deputy with Shirley Baehr becoming Group Coordinator, a post which she continued to hold until her recent death. Others who were on the original Steering Committee were Ann Colclough, Brian Nicholls, Mike Lawson and Sue Smith. Sadly we have lost a few people, and others that we are unsure as to their whereabouts. These first Committee Meetings, held about every two weeks, were held in a stuffy upstairs room in Calle Dr Calatayud, and there the Steering Committee and then the Committee voted in at the AGM stayed until La Senieta was built. After the AGM Ann Colclough became the first President, a post she very ably held for 5 years, with Pamela Kershaw still the Vice President.

At the inaugural meeting 244 had joined the new association and quite a few people agreed to become Group Leaders with most preparing to start their respective groups after the summer. However Anne Rodger, who was going to run a Cookery/Entertaining at Home Group, said she would start immediately so became the very first group of Moraira U3A.

The first Web Master, Mike Lawson, though having no previous experience of building a Web site before joining the U3A, said he would have a go and very soon the Web Site was very active and interesting.  The Web site was updated several years ago and now looks very “professional”.

Jan Adams said she would start a Travel Group and who would have thought it would grow to the wonderful success that it is now, with not only day trips to places of interest and shopping! But also further afield to Italy and a trip which encompassed many European capitals, and in 2017 very ambitious trips are planned to Croatia and another to Cambodia and Vietnam. These trips are arranged by U3A members who had little or no experience of arranging travel, and judging by the popularity of the group, are thoroughly enjoyed by the members. Indeed some of the more popular trips in Spain have been repeated again and again. This Group has been led for many years by Carol Mantle, who has a hard working team of people helping her.

The first Groups that were set up were as follows

10 Pin Bowling Art & History Appreciation Bridge for Beginners
Cake Decorating Card making/Scrapbooking Classical Music Appreciation
Cookery/Entertaining at Home Dining Out Group Dining Out Singles
Drama Group/Workshop Fishing Gardening
Genealogy History History of Spain lectures
Home Maintenance and DIY Water Colour Techniques Hi- Fi & Home Cinema Advice
Modern Jive for Beginners Pétanque Reading Group
Paranormal Experiences & Investigations Photo Digital Workshop Quiz Group
Spanish for Beginners  Sunday Solo Group  Travel
Travellers Tales  Walking

Those groups that are underlined are still going strong but with different group leaders, and of course we now have many more with some groups expanding such as 5 Pétanque Groups now, and several Spanish Groups catering for different levels. Groups available for members to join, range from learning new skills to improving old ones.  

By the second Steering Group Meeting on 19th June the membership stood at 468, and it has continued to go from strength to strength and has grown to the numbers we have today in 2016, with the current membership standing at over 1800. Since July 2008 the monthly meetings have been held in Teulada on the first Monday of each month, as it was obvious that La Senieta was far too small a venue..

The Website has a Discount Page, which gives details of companies, individuals and organisations who are willing to give discounts on their services and products. The Website also contains information of Cultural events locally and as far afield as Valencia, all ably collated by excellent Coordinators.

To make the meetings a bit more interesting, some months there will be a Guest Speaker, and these have ranged from members themselves talking of their experiences and/or previous lives, to singers and dancers from both within and from outside the U3A. Also we have had the people from the British Consul, the local health centre, a retired barrister, a retired soldier who walked Hadrian’s Wall for Charity, and a member who cycled 12000 miles around Africa in aid of a children’s orphanage.

A Newsletter is produced each month and posted to all those with computers, and printed out for folk who do not have computer access. The Membership Secretary also sends out Enews and Bulletins of anything urgent or events that could affect the members’ lives.

A strong Social Committee organises events throughout the year and in 2016 there are more than ever. The first ever event held was at Font Santa to celebrate the Moraira-Teulada U3A’s first birthday, and took the form of a picnic at Font Santa with Michel and Yvon from Los Leones barbecuing Chicken, Sausages, Burgers and the then Cookery Group making salads and puddings. Marg Roberts fried 10 kilos of onions on a very hot day in May 2009. Music was arranged by a member, and the Choir (which was active then) was to sing. Over the years further picnics, fun days for various celebrations including the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilees were then held at Font Santa, and then being ever more ambitious Dinner/Dances began at El Canor several years ago.

One of our most successful Groups is the Music Group. This started several years ago with a few people who simply wanted to get together and play their instruments or sing, and generally have a jamming session to please themselves. None were professionals in their previous lives and got together for the fun of it. Soon they were persuaded to play to an audience, somewhat reluctantly, and were nicknamed the Golden Oldies. Now they regularly perform to members every couple of months, and to even bigger audiences which include non U3A members, such as for the Teulada-Moraira Lions, which is able to collect donations for their charities. The Group Leader is our current President John Hopwood, a man of many talents.

The Dining Out Group is also very popular, especially during the winter months when most of us are free of visitors. This Group is led by the current Vice President David Haxon and his wife Eileen, who also has a position on the committee. They are helped by several other couples throughout the year, and they all put a lot of effort into finding different restaurants for the members to try out.

Another Group with a huge flowing and notable success is the Art and History Lecture Group. This has been led since its inception by Brian Nicholls and Ceda Panajotovic, and in September they will have their 120th lecture. These Group Leaders, who give many of the talks, are also helped by Speakers and Lecturers from outside the U3A otherwise the workload would be too onerous.

There is something for everyone in the U3A and many people have said that while learning new skills and developing talents is fun, the best part of being a member is meeting so many diverse people and going on to make new friends.  As an added bonus there are countless stories of members needing help and being overwhelmed by the generosity and willingness of other members to assist them in any way.

There are members from several nations, including Spanish, Finnish, Dutch, German and Danish, although meetings, lectures and groups are conducted in English.  All are very welcome and they take an active part in our U3A.  

The Moraira Teulada U3A is a relaxed and friendly organisation and there are plenty of activities for members from the youngest to the oldest in their 90’s. Applicants should not be in full time employment and that is really the only criteria.

In 2018 Moraira-Teulada U3A will celebrate its tenth Anniversary and I’m sure the association will continue to grow and thrive with new Committee Members taking it forward. The achievements reached so far are tremendous, coming from a couple of ladies who had an idea… the late Pamela Kershaw and ex-Councillor Sylvia Tatnell would be very proud.

Margaret Roberts                                                                                                             June 2016

Reportage from the 5th anniversary celebration, 6th May 2013 (opens in new tab)