Skip to main content

Search sources

In memory of Tom Holloway 1932-2023

07 February 2024

Ian Funnell remembers Tom Holloway, a former Trustee of the Third Age Trust who contributed to the u3a movement in numerous ways including expanding its international connections.

Tom Holloway, who died in Oxford recently at the age of ninety, was an international activist for the u3a Movement, a former Trustee of the Third Age Trust, and a pioneer of online education and website provision for u3a groups across the globe. Tom was involved in linking charities, their members and their supporters together via the World Wide Web for over thirty years.

Tom was employed by IBM from 1965 until his retirement in 1990. In 1968 Tom and his wife Annie and their young family spent four years on assignment to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. On his return to the UK he worked on IBM Office System Networks which eventually morphed into The Internet. Tom was interested in history and as a personal initiative he set up the Time witnesses : Memories of the last century website which holds the testimonies of many WWll survivors. After retirement he lectured at Coventry University on website design for a couple of years and provided numerous websites for various community projects and local charities. He was living in Leamington Spa and joined Warwick District u3a where he was very active, and soon became involved in the running of the Third Age Trust for which he was an elected a Trustee from 1998 until 2001. The team of Paul Baron, Alan Bannister and Tom developed a website for the Trust which was advertised in Third Age News from Spring 1999. The team ran the website until the Trust outsourced the project to a software company in 2006.

In 1998 Tom cooperated with Jean Thompson, a former Trust chairman, in setting up the Universities of the Third Age - worldwide ( website with the aims of spreading u3a activities around the globe with various online projects such as “The View from My Window” and MyU3A - meetings and greetings. 1998 was the UN Year of the Older Person and Tom and Jean were involved with the exciting development of the U3A Online | U3A Online in Australia. This organisation was run entirely online, and it offered up to ninety courses which were provided jointly by Australian and UK members, until the Trust withdrew in 2010. Through the World u3a website and using email Tom produced and distributed the Signposts monthly magazine to thousands of members around the world for almost twenty years. Signpost advertised educational sources, events and links to put members in touch with others who had similar interests.

From 2003 Tom embarked on a new stage of his life in which each winter he lived in Hyderabad, India from September to April and returned to Oxford for the summer period. In Hyderabad he supported several schools for dispossessed and low-caste communities, and helped set up a local u3a. By 2019 after seventeen years in India his children persuaded Tom it was time to return to his home base in Oxford, where he continued with undiminished enthusiasm his online group activities and joined Headington u3a.

The greatest achievement of the World U3A website was to be instrumental in the setting up the Indian Society of u3as and the sequence of conferences provided by the U3A Asia Pacific Alliance. A retired university vice-chancellor, Professor Raj Narain Kapoor, contacted Tom after seeing the website and set up the Society and numerous U3As from 2008. This was followed by an international conference in 2010 in Chitrakoot at the Mahatma Gandhi Rural University. Before the conference broke up it was agreed that it had been so successful that it needed to be repeated annually and it chose the name of U3A Asia Pacific Alliance for this informal but energetic collaboration. For seven years Tom organised regular online get togethers, often on a Sunday morning, to keep the enthusiasm and planning moving forward, with the result that succeeding events were held in Singapore, Pune, Melbourne, Kathmandu, Brisbane and Osaka. The development of U3As in India, Singapore, Iceland, Nepal and Japan can be credited to the initiatives arising from World U3A and Tom’s active support, often on-site in the host country.

The international U3A Movement has been encouraged by the International Association of U3As (AIUTA) since 1975 and Tom helped Stan Miller, its first UK president, with its website for a time when Stan took office in 2006. Tom has contributed greatly to the expansion of u3a activities around the globe and his support will be remembered for years to come in many countries. He will be missed by his many friends and collaborators in many charitable organisations as well as u3a. Tom leaves a family of six children and numerous grandchildren.

Previous & Next Articles in this category