Latest Coronavirus Update               Updated: 4th August 2020

In the light of the ongoing health situation, the Speaker Meeting Committee, in consultation with the rest of the U3A Committee, have decided to offer members a programme of online lectures over the winter months. These will be held on the third Wednesday of the month at 2pm as our regular meetings have been since time immemorial!

The difference will be that you will be able to access them from the comfort of your own home via our Zoom Pro account, possibly no bad thing in the depths of a British winter. All our speakers will have a Q&A session at the end of their talk but you will have to provide your own cup of tea!

Our choice of lecturers has been decided by the nature of their talks with an emphasis on more visual presentations. There will be further details later as to the finer details of timing and organisation of the meetings.

So far we have arranged talks for September, October and November and we are currently working on a Christmas lecture.

16 September  Tom Way ‘Wildlife on your Doorstep’

We can’t think of a better way  to start our new look lecture programme than by inviting Tom Way to show us some more of his wonderful photographs. Many of you will remember this delightful young photographer, his infectious enthusiasm and his wonderful photographs of African wildlife. This time he will present wildlife from much closer to home and we look forward to more spectacular images, but this time of more familiar creatures. Not to be missed!


21 October  John Ericson – ‘Art inspired by Wine’

John Ericson has given us some of our most memorable lectures over recent years, starting with his fascinating talk about corkscrews. We are very confident that his professional style of delivery and unusual slant on the subjects he chooses will adapt well to online presentation and we look forward to another feast of quirky and interesting images related to wine, wine growing and drinking. Cheers!


18 November  Sophie Matthews – ‘Music in Art’

Sophie Matthews is new to us – a professional musician who specialises in playing historical woodwind instruments and in English Baroque and folk music. In her lecture she will explore the links between the visual and the aural, drawing on the works of great painters such as Brueghel, Hogarth and Bosch and  presenting a variety of images of the instruments in their original social context. She will consider musical symbolism in medieval and Renaissance art and give live performances of historical music upon authentic instruments. A visit to the concert hall and art gallery combined – a rare treat in these socially distanced times!


The Monthly Speakers’ Meeting took place on the third Wednesday of each month at 2:00 pm in the Baptist Church, Thames Street, OX10 0BH, and is open to all Members of the branch and to potential new members wishing to find out more. Members are addressed by an invited speaker (see below), and this is followed by tea, coffee and biscuits.  There is no charge. The talks are usually excellent and it’s a good chance to see friends old and new.

Speakers Programme 2020

18 March – Julie Summers – Remembered – the history of the Commonwealth war graves
Julie Summers, our most regular and popular speaker, returns to give a talk based on her own highly acclaimed book Remembered which tells the human story behind the extraordinary efforts of those who felt that the fallen should be remembered in perpetuity, and with dignity.

15 April – Stuart Linford – The wicked wit of Winston Churchill
Stewart Linford recently gave us a very amusing talk on the Windsor Chair plus his version of Winston Churchill. We felt it was only right to ask him to follow this up with The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill. This talk is a power point presentation packed with stories exploring Churchill’s many virtues … and vices. It should be very interesting and amusing!

20 May – Dr David Jones – How tropical rainforests work
David Jones is a research biologist at the Natural History Museum in London. He specializes in rainforest insects and ecology and spoke to us last year about the most dangerous animals on earth. He returns to speak to us about the main ecological processes that keep rainforests functioning and the threats that currently surround their long-term future.

17 June – Adrian Lloyd – Waste, chucking away £10 billion

15 July – Tom Way – Wildlife on your doorstep
Tom’s recent talk to us about photographing African wildlife was hugely popular. Last time his images were mostly of large creatures which roared. This year he returns with images of rather less exotic specimens, smaller and often silent, but the photographs are guaranteed to be equally spectacular.

16 September – Stefan White – The greatest practical jokes ever
Stefan White has augmented a long career in sales and marketing and business administration with numerous public speaking engagements largely on the subjects of history and horticulture. He is a busy and popular speaker on cruise ships and has previously spoken to us on aspects of horticultural history. This time Stefan will give us a light-hearted look at some of the greatest practical jokes and jokers of all time, including Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein and Franklin Roosevelt.

21 October – Jon Ericson – Art inspired by wine
The inimitable John Ericson returns to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for wine and art by showing wonderful paintings as well as wicked cartoons and striking posters. This is guaranteed to be informative, interesting and entertaining.

18 November – Dr Paul Roberts – Last supper at Pompeii
Paul Roberts is a classical archaeologist who holds the title of Sackler Keeper of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum. He was the Curator of the recent exhibition ‘Last Supper at Pompeii’ and will talk to us about the catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius in AD79.

09 December – Jonathan Woodhouse – Some gentle Christmas sax
Jonathan Woodhouse is a professional musician who plays clarinet and saxophone. He will talk to us about amusing incidents in his long career as an army musician, give us some background information about the saxophone and entertain us by playing various saxophones sometimes with a seasonal flavour. Note this meeting is on the second Wednesday, no the third.

Speakers Programme 2021

20 January – Fran Sandham – Dr Livingstone, I presume
Fran Sandham is a travel journalist and writer who three years ago told us of his epic solo walk across Africa. This time he returns to relate the remarkable story behind Africa’s greatest ever meeting and of the curious surrogate father-son relationship which developed between Stanley and Livingstone

17 February – David Barber – Swan Upping
I am sure many of you have heard of Swan Upping and now is your chance to find out what it is all about. David Barber is the Queens Swan Marker, a role which dates back to the 12th century. He organises the annual event of Swan Upping on the river Thames amongst his many other duties and will describe these in his talk. Should be fascinating.

17 March – Alan Wise – The role of the psychotherapist
Alan Wise is an experienced motivational speaker and psychotherapist. His specialised knowledge makes his talks both fascinating and enlightening, informative in their content, lively in their spirit and life changing in their outcome! He has worked for many years in the medical/legal field reporting on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for accident victims. Not to be missed

21 April – Andy Smith – Sing a Century
Andy was with us in February 2019 so many of you will have heard his interesting talk on ‘John Paul George and Me’. This time he will talk about songs and instrumentals written and recorded over the last century. He will feature some well-known classics plus a few forgotten gems.

Speakers Programme 2019

20 March – Julie Summers – When The Children Came Home
Julie Summers returns to tell the story of some of the children who were evacuated in 1939 and what happened when they returned home at the end of the war. Julies’ talk is based on her acclaimed book of the same title in which she weaves a collection of personal stories to create a compelling portrait of wartime Britain.

17 April – Dr David Jones – The most dangerous animals on earth
Dr David Jones is a research biologist at the Natural History Museum in London and an external lecturer at Imperial College. In this talk, he explores the question ‘Which animals kill the most humans?’ Based on published research, he lists the top culprits, debunks some popular myths and reveals the scary truth behind the statistics. He then focuses on his favourite killers, the snakes.

15 May – Tom Way Photographing African Wildlife
Tom Way is a professional wildlife photographer based in the UK, whose work has been awarded in international competitions including European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Sony World Photographer. He favours a fine art style approach to photography and spends most of his time focusing on large mammals around the world. His passion is Africa and he will show us some of his powerful and engaging images captured by his immense expertise combined with total commitment and extraordinary patience. A treat not to be missed. Note that the AGM will precede the talk.

19 June – Jenny Mallin – A Grandmother’s Legacy
Jenny Mallin is the author of the prize-winning cookery book A Grandmother’s Legacy. She was inspired to research her family history when she inherited a handwritten recipe book from her mother. This heirloom was compiled by the women of five generations of her family who lived and worked in the British Raj, leaving Yorkshire at the end of the 18thC and only returning at Partition. Her talk explores her Anglo-Indian family heritage through photographs and anecdotes and shines a light on a fascinating and now by-gone way of life.

17 July – Gary Jordan – The guitar music of Dowland, Sor and Albeniz – a talk and recital
Gary Jordan is a classical guitarist who has played in masterclasses for many eminent figures in the guitar world. He will introduce us not only to the world of the classical guitar but also to Elizabethan Lute music, playing his guitar to illustrate his talk.

21 August – U3A Garden Party
Our usual speaker meeting is replaced, as is usual in August, by our annual Garden Party. This is always a very memorable event, whether it is for glorious sunshine or for a more typically English type of day. Whatever the weather, the company and conversation are always good and the refreshments second to none. Make sure you don’t miss the summer tea party of the year.

18 September – Kamran Irani – Delivering emergency medical supplies
Captain Kamran Irani comes to us highly recommended as a speaker and also for his spectacular mode of transport. After a career as an airline pilot Captain Irani now heads up SERV OBN Emergency Riders. This group of intrepid volunteers provide a rapid response transport service to the NHS, carrying urgently needed medical items out of hours, saving lives as well as NHS resources. He promises to arrive on his top of the range motorbike!

16 October – John Ericson – Art inspired by wine
Note that this talk had to be cancelled at short notice. However, it’s been replaced.

16 October – Ian Keable
Ian has given us several talks before and he returns to entertain us with accounts of 100 years of hoaxes, comedy and credulity,all with a brilliant presentation. We are grateful he has filled in with such short notice.

20 November – Robert Van de Noort – What archaeology can tell us about adapting to changing climates
Robert Van de Noort is currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Reading University. However, his first love and academic discipline is archaeology. In this fascinating talk he will tell us about what we can learn from actual archaeological studies of different settlements that have suffered climate change in the past and how they adapted to changing conditions.

11 December – Mark Cairns – A little Christmas Magic – but not as you know it!
If magic for you means conjuring rabbits from hats, then think again. Mark Cairns is definitely not that sort of magician. Mark is returning to us this year, pretty much by popular demand after he stunned us with his amazing mind reading skills. Mark is an international performer and we are fortunate to secure his return. A Christmas treat not to be missed.

Speakers Programme 2020

15 January – Tony Hadland – A Tiger in the bathroom
Tony Hadland last came to give us a talk in June 2018 on William Gill. This time it is a Tiger in the Bathroom and Bullets up the chimney. Interesting! Tony is an award winning former journal editor of the Oxfordshire Family History Society. The talk spotlights Tony’s ancestors in India and Ireland, a fascinating story that earlier generations would have found shocking.

19 February – Julia MilesRagbag and Cocktails – 28 years as a diplomatic wife. We are grateful to Julia for stepping in at short notice.

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