Benalla’s close contact with the U3A Network has seen us run many regional meetings over the past five years. We have been complimented on our ability to run successful and professional Regional meetings. These get-togethers help all U3A’s in sharing ideas particularly types of activities on offer. We at Benalla are envied for our membership numbers and are often asked how we advertise for members.
The main source of our new members is our wonderful website. My thanks go to Bev Lee who has developed and run this informative website for the past eight years. Bev spends many hours on this and other U3A Benalla activities and she has done a wonderful job.
Currently our membership stands at 306 members. This includes 34 people have joined U3A Benalla for the first time this year. We also have 4 Life Memberships.
I would like to sincerely thank our wonderful Convenors who run U3A Benalla’s 44 programs. The variety of programs we offer is incredible. From outdoor activities such as Bird watching, Garden Appreciation and Easy Walks, so social activities such as Meet and Mingle and Chat’n’chew, to programs such as Politics, Tech Savvy Programs for both Apple iPads and Android Tablets, Music Appreciation, Art Appreciation Recorder, Patchwork and Singing Groups. There are many more programs which I haven’t mentioned, but all are valued and appreciated. Without our Convenors there would be no programs, so thank you to all Convenors for the time and effort they spend organising, helping and running each and every group.
At this point I would like to acknowledge the marvellous work by the Convenors of two Groups who retired at the end of 2021. Firstly to John Lloyd who started and ran the Sustainability Group for 13 years. John's continued interest and extensive reading on environmental issues set the scene for each fortnightly session. He arrived at each class with evidence-based articles from reputable writers to photocopy, distribute and discuss with class members. During the Pandemic, John distributed these articles on-line to members before sessions, some of which he facilitated using 'Zoom'. John has retired because he and Freida are in the process of selling their home at Chesney Vale and moving to the Castlemaine/Bendigo district.
The second Group to have a retiring Convenor is the very popular Wine Appreciation Group. Keith and Heather Rogers together with the late Noel Meagher ran this group together since 2013. For the last three years Keith and Heather have run the Wine Appreciation Group by themselves. Their interest in the topic has seen them regularly doing a “pre Wine Appreciation” tour to include not only the Winery that was about to be visited, but also the establishment chosen for the lunch to follow. Thank you for your enthusiasm and for all those memorable Wineries and lunch venues the Group has visited.
In this past year we are grateful to the Benalla Rural City Council for allocating us a second room. Our timetable is full for our first U3A room, and this second room is allowing smaller groups such as Family Research--Beginners and Russian Literature to have a slot on the timetable. All of the technology we have installed in this second room has been paid for by Grants we have accessed from Be Connected or the Good Things Foundation, which is supported by the Federal Government.
In 2021 we applied for a Benalla Rural City Grant for a projector to be installed in this main Auditorium. In our application we told the Council that it could also benefit the Senior Citizens who share this building with us. We received the Grant. Then Council officers found more money, and said the BRCC would undertake the installation of the Projector project and be totally responsible for maintenance of the equipment. This happened six months ago, and due to COVID we are still waiting for the projector to be installed in this Auditorium.
In October 2021 we celebrated Get on Line Week with a COVID safe lunch on the veranda outside this Auditorium. It was a delightful sunny day, and we discovered this new area of this building which is extremely suitable for gatherings of about 30 people.
In late February 2022 we held a Convenors afternoon which was well attended. The purpose of this meeting was to hear how Convenors were starting in 2022, and to share with Convenors our use of Drop Box for accessing Class lists and Email addresses of Course participants. This two way conversation proved beneficial to both Convenors the Committee.
Finally, I would like to thank the U3A Benalla Committee which has supported me throughout my five years as President, especially in the last six months. Thank you to Wende Sturgess who is retiring from the Committee due to the fact that she intends to travel more in Australia. Thank you, everyone.
Dorothy Webber, U3A Benalla President
as presented by Margaret Jenkins, Vice President
U3A Benalla Annual General Meeting, March 16, 2022