More than 120 people crowded into Market Rasen’s Festival Hall last week to celebrate 20 years of an organisation whose motto is to ‘Learn, Laugh and Live’.
The hall may have looked pretty full for the celebration event, but that was only a third of the membership of the West Wolds U3A.
Some of the groups founding members were on hand to tell how the group came about - and how it has grown from just 40 members to 360.
One of those was Pat Hage, who originally was involved with the Lindsey U3A at Welton back in 1996.
She said: “After the Lindsey group had been going for about two years, it was bursting at the seams.
“Six of us came from the Rasen area, so we decided to set one up here.
“There were about 40 members to start with and when we got to 100, we thought that was lovely.
“We never expected to get to over 300.”
It was this growth in membership that was highlighted by guest speaker Pam Jones, previous national chair of the Third Age Trust.
Pam said: “It is joyous to come to a U3A that is so vibrant. I applaud West Wolds U3A on their organisation - especially their meeters and greeters.
“I believe the whole movement is going from strength to strength.
“The organisation is unique and we need to keep these unique qualities.
“Some people think you need qualifications to join U3A, but you don’t - it really is something for everyone.”
The U3A (University of the Third Age) is aimed at retired and semi-retired people who come together to continue their educational, social and creative interests in a friendly and informal environment.
As well as the main monthly meeting, members draw on their own knowledge and experience to teach and learn from each other to hold informal sub groups on a wide range a topics.
West Wolds U3A has more than 50 of these groups, ranging from backgammon to cycling and line dancing to Biblical Hebrew.
They also plan a number of one-off trips, theatre visits and holidays.
To mark their 2oth anniversary, a sub group has been set up to organise additional events.
As well as last Thursday’s celebration meeting, when the anniversary cake - made by member and award-winning cake maker Carol Dixon - was cut, there will also be an afternoon tea in May and a hog roast at Market Rasen Racecourse in August.
There are also lots of extra day visits and short outings to enjoy.
West Wolds Chairman, Steve McCarthy is delighted to be heading up the group in this very special year.
He said: “What a special group of people our founding members are for having the vision of this group.
“When the group started everyone knew everyone else, now with 360 members it has a good buzzing atmosphere.
“It is heartwarming to hear people say they have enjoyed it (the meeting).
“Here’s to the next 20 years.”
To find out about the U3A email chairman @westwolds u3a.org.
Alternatively go along to one of the monthly meetings, which are held in the Festival Hall on the second Thursday of the month, from 9.30am.