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Newark Committee on their Trustee Experience

A group of people round a table

This week is National Trustees’ Week and to celebrate we are talking to committees from u3as across the movement to ask what they’ve gained from their experiences.

Today we talk to committee members from Newark u3a. Gill, Chair, Julia, Groups Coordinator, and Maggie, Membership Secretary, talk about their experiences.

Why did you choose to become a trustee?

Gill: I chose to become a trustee because I like to be on the inside of events. I enjoy knowing what is going on and how and why decisions are being made.  It give opportunity for offering opinions and seeing those opinions contribute to the direction of the organization.

Julia: I was approached and was flattered to be considered.

Maggie: I realised that I still had a lot to offer, especially drawing on my organisational skills from my working life & I had no desire to sit back & just put my carpet slippers on when retirement came along.

What is the main thing that you have learned since becoming a trustee?

Gill: I have learned a lot about the value of the u3a to individual members, partly by being able to engage with the wider organization through peer groups and network activities. I have seen that people have so much life still left to live and here is the opportunity to share skills and experiences with others, enriching all our lives.

Julia: I’d like to turn the question to ‘have been able to contribute’. In that sense I was able to apply some of my career skills, which felt/feels good ‘to still have it’! Being on the committee gives a way to remain viable.

Maggie: You must ensure a good system is in place so that, should anyone’s role become suddenly vacant, it can be picked up & easily taken over immediately by someone else.

What one piece of advice would you give to any potential new trustee?

Gill: Feel welcomed, you are bringing experience and knowledge.

Julia: What Gill said – ‘Welcome we need you’. To a tee, every new committee member doesn’t know how they can help when they first arrive.

Maggie: Be patient & be prepared to work hard.

What one big difference has your committee made for your members?

Gill: Introduction of Beacon allowed us to communicate with the majority of our members easily. This was particularly important during the pandemic. This work was taken on by this committees treasurer and integrated into the organization by the group coordinator. A fabulous example of the committee members working to their strengths for the benefit of the members.

Julia: Again, implementation of Beacon. It made a world of difference over lockdown, makes general meeting checking faster and easier and facilitates mid-month communication between leaders and group members. Kudos also go to our current Treasurer for better financial reporting and implementation of credit card transactions.

Maggie: We have actively encouraged our Members to embrace technology & leap into the 21st century. This has made a huge difference to people’s lives in coping with the lockdowns & has meant we have continued to run several of our groups using Zoom to keep everyone in touch.

What is you favourite memory since you became a trustee?

Gill: Committee diners out. We are a tight knit group who have gone through a particularly complex time, there have been many challenges, but also much support, skill and commitment by all the committee members that has helped us all to take out u3a through recent times and come out the other end knowing that we have improved out IT skills and supported our fellow members throughout.

Julia: Bi-annual social dances that out Membership secretary initiated with full throated support from the committee.

Maggie: My dance partner & I run the Ballroom Group & we organised two social events, (one summer & one winter). It was absolutely wonderful watching Members enjoying themselves, laughing, dancing & generally having a really fun-filled evening together. It took a lot of work organising the events, but worth every bit of the effort we put in.

What would be the theme song for your trustee life?

Gill: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Julia: Fun, introspective, question but I’m terrible with song names and lyrics! Maybe “A Little Help from my Friends’ by The Beatles.

Maggie: “Celebrate Good Times – come on!” by Kool & the Gang. Because growing old doesn’t mean life stops, it’s just the start of a new chapter & it’s something to be celebrated.

Trustees make the u3a movement work. Read more of our interviews with Trustees on our Sources blog and if you are interested in becoming a trustee, talk to your local u3a committee.