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Spotlight On: Abbeywood & Thamesmead u3a member Jenny

24 April 2023

Abbeywood & Thamesmead u3a member Jenny shares how she changed her life at age 60 - and how amidst all that change, u3a helped her to connect with new people.

photoshop jenny case studyAbbeywood & Thamesmead u3a member Jenny shares how she changed her life at age 60 - and how amidst all that change, u3a helped her to connect with new people.

I changed my life out of all recognition at age 60, by becoming a ‘silver splitter’. My husband of 39 years and I decided to divorce, amicably.

I had no strong ties in the area we’d been living in for 15 years, and was tired of my full time job.

After taking early retirement, I moved away and lodged with my sister for a while to gather my thoughts.

For various reasons I decided to move back to London to be near my parents, in the area I grew up. It had dawned on me that living in greater London would give me so much freedom and scope to do things and meet people. My parents are also still living there so it was an opportunity to build on our relationship which I have really enjoyed.

After moving, I was looking for all sorts of things to do. I tried a number of things. I joined a bowls club, I did some volunteer gardening in the local park - and I joined u3a in Bexleyheath and their geology group as I always had a passing interest in it. 

I was lucky enough to get involved in a u3a Shared Learning Project. We were photographing the conservation of the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College. The project went on for over two years and there were eight of us. That was really interesting. I had not long got into photography so we weren’t chosen for the fact that we had good equipment or lots of experience; we were chosen for our enthusiasm. It gave me renewed confidence in my photographic skills. I also met a lot of new people through that project.

A couple of years later, I moved a little bit and I switched to Abbeywood & Thamesmead u3a.

I had initially first heard of u3a through my parents, who are both members. My dad comes to the monthly meetings and talks whilst my Mum has been a committee member and the u3a secretary. She loves organising and being involved. She’s a real social animal. She also takes part in the play reading, poetry and prose, games, local history groups.

I tend to go to the games sessions now and the meetings. I have been teaching people to play cribbage which I love so it has been so nice to share that skill. Getting to know people in the local area has been a real benefit. I’m probably one of the youngest members but they’re all outgoing people who want to learn and socialize so the age thing doesn’t matter at all.

Looking back, I think I was quite brave to make so many changes. It turned out to be the right decision for me, as I now have a part time job I enjoy, am living with a new partner, and thoroughly enjoy semi retirement.

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