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General meetings

General meetings are held in the Amersham Community Centre Drake Hall at 14:30 on the third Wednesday of each month. They are open to all Chiltern U3A members - please remember to bring your membership card with you, it will be checked at the door. Meetings last just over an hour - make sure you pay for enough time in the car park (allow 2 hours) to stay at the end of the meeting to have a cup of tea or coffee and get to know people.

Prospective members are welcome to attend two general meetings to see if you like us. Just introduce yourself to whoever is on the door checking membership cards and they will make you welcome.

There is a loop system in the Drake Hall, and you should switch your hearing aid to the "T" position to hear speakers more clearly.

Click here to see a list of previous General Meetings from January 2013 to December 2017

Click here for a video of the World War 1 commemoration concert on June 2nd 2018. This is a large file and may take some time to download and open.

Forthcoming General Meetings:

Please note that speakers are booked a year or more in advance, and are subject to change, sometimes at short notice.

Wednesday November 21
Dave Morrison: A reflection on the events leading to the Armistice in WW1

On 11 November, 1918, after 4 years of killing with horrendous weapons in deplorable conditions, both of the sides fighting World War One laid down their arms and put a halt to the carnage. How did this happen? The German Army had not surrendered and had not been defeated. What are the main events in the progression of the conflict and how did they lead to the Armistice?
New tactics, new technology, the weather, politics, revolution and starvation can all be cited as reasons for the war coming to an end, but the truth has to involve a mixture of all of them.
Since 2006, Dave Morrison has guided student and adult groups around the battlefields of the Western Front. He has a BA in History and an MSc in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine from Imperial College London.

Wednesday December 19
Hugh Granger: I’m not really old, It’s those Tablets

Hugh Granger is an Advanced International Toastmaster and has given many talks in the Chiltern area so he thinks he may be known to some of you. Hugh presents ‘I’m not really old it’s those tablets’ as a comedy routine that has become one of his most popular talks, so something cheerful to end the year with.

Wednesday January 16th
William John French: Butler to Royalty

William started his career in 1980 at the age of 16 when he joined the Royal Navy where he remained until 1989.  During this time he served on the Royal Yacht Britannia and went to the Falklands war from 1982-1983 where he served on HMS Battleaxe and HMS Broadsword. On leaving the Royal Navy he continued his career as a Butler, his first appointment being with the Rothschild Family.
During his 25 year career as a Butler apart from working with many VIP’s, he attained a high profile within the profession including confidentiality, commitment and loyalty and this has always been held in the highest esteem by his employers enabling him to travel the world.
His duties to the Royal Family which spanned five years while working on Royal Britannia included his service for Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Phillip Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York
In addition to the Royal Family William has worked for the following significant employers:

Rothschild Family      -     Chairman Rothschild Bank
Lord Rothermere       -     Chairman of Daily Newspapers, Paris and London
Prince Kahlid             -     Saudi Royal Family
Simon Family             -     Owner of Indianapolis – Pacers Basketball Team
Nicole Kidman            -     Actress
Mr Klosserman           -     Chairman Brockett Hall
Mr Grundy                  -     International Tax Barrister
Mr J H MacBain          -    President – Trader.com

William has been on Television in the UK and included in newspaper articles promoting Butlers in the UK and he feels privileged to have attained ‘’Top’’ London Butler status among agencies to whom he has been assigned.


Wednesday February 20th
Brian Freeland: The View From The Wings

brian freelandBrian’s theatre career started in 1959, direct from National Service, as Trainee Manager at the London Palladium, and has taken him to forty-three different countries including three residencies in the Middle East; eight tours of the Indian sub-continent
This talk has developed from his experiences with everything from variety Butlin’s Holiday Camps and the London Palladium to the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells and London Festival Ballet Companies, Scottish Opera, Nottingham Playhouse and Joan Littlewood’s Theatre workshop company. Brian now gives talks about his life and career and for us he will be giving an insight into a stage managers view from the prompt corner which is very different to that from your comfortable seat in the stalls or circle. Reality theatre; no retakes. And as the review says - slightly saucy.

Wednesday March 20th
Speaker to be confirmed

Wednesday April 17th
Ramji  Abinashi  - Aspects of India

indian flagThe Republic of India to use the correct title has a population of 1,276,267,000 and home to the Banyan tree and Lotus flower and where the sport of cricket is a national obsession and in this presentation given by Ramji who started his group Aspects of India in March 2018 meeting in the pottery room on a Monday the group quickly became full so in this talk Ramji will have the opportunity to expand upon the culture of everyday life in India, it’s celebrations and festivals, the food, the traffic, the colourful clothes worn by it’s people and the many religions that make up the Indian society.

Wednesday May 15th Chiltern U3A AGM

Followed by a talk on cyber crimes given by Mark Godsland, Cyber Protect Officer from the Police Cyber Crime Team, Thames Valley Police a chance to be given advice on scams that unfortunately invade our society today and how to be aware and stay safe

Wednesday June 19th
Tom Way – African wildlife

Tom WayTom is a professional award winning fine art wildlife photographer based in the UK but spends the majority of his time in Africa focussing on Elephants and Lions in Kenya,
He has won various competitions. His most recent success was winning European Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2016 competition with his image ‘Beauty, Power, Majesty’
And last year he presented to us a programme entitled ‘Wildlife on your doorstep’ a photographic delight of our country side and the animal life that surrounds us but he has been travelling further afield since then to the African continent and has agreed to come back and will be showing his results of the wildlife he found to photograph and it should be a visual treat.

Wednesday July 17th
Susan Purcell – The A to Z of the English Dictionary

dictonaryVirtually every household has at least one dictionary, but we take dictionaries very much for granted. We talk of the dictionary, as we talk of the Bible, as if there were only one, but, in fact, dictionaries do differ. In this light-hearted and entertaining talk Susan will consider some of the great names in dictionary-making, and will show how dictionaries have changed over time.  
Susan Purcell is the author of a number of children’s dictionaries and thesauruses and is co-editor of the Puzzler Crossword Solver’s Dictionary, published by Penguin. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and the author of several foreign language course books and grammar books, having begun her career as a teacher of modern languages.

Extract from Tunbridge Wells u3a newsletter from July 2007 written by Michael Polkinghorne and permission to use given by Susan
DICTIONARIES SELL faster than TVs. The first English dictionary appeared in 1604, so that Shakespeare, who died in 1616, did not have access to one for most of his life. It wasn’t called a dictionary, but a Table Alphabeticall (sic), and its author, Robert Cawdrey, claimed it was for the benefit of ‘Ladies, Gentlewomen or any other unskilfull (sic) persons’ so that they could understand words ‘which they shall heare (sic) or read in Scripture, Sermons or elsewhere’. If anyone coming to our May talk had any doubts about how interesting the history of dictionaries would be, they would have been quickly dispelled by the thoroughly fascinating, informative and humorous talk we received from Susan Purcell.   So why did the first English dictionary appear when it did? Prior to 1604, Latin had been used for the Bible, and for the classics. English was considered vulgar and not suitable for writing. The printing press had been introduced 130 years earlier, so more people were reading, and they were beginning to feel proud of their language. A century and a half later, leading English writers, including Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, keen that the beauty and purity of the contemporary English language should be recorded for posterity, envisaged a dictionary which would advise future generations on correct pronunciation, spelling and usage. Samuel Johnson, a teacher and freelance writer, was commissioned for the task.

Aware that the English language is a living thing, constantly changing and developing, Johnson realised the futility of attempting to lay down the law as to the meanings of words. His two-volume dictionary of 40,000 words took seven years to complete and was published in 1755 at a price of £4 10s. Unlike Cawdrey, he provided definitions for ordinary words like ‘cat’ and ‘dog’, and he included quotations from erudite authors to illustrate how words were used. In doing so, he set a precedent that still applies to this day. Unlike countries whose national academies lay down rules as to how words should be spelt, and what they mean, English meaning and spelling is determined by usage.

Wednesday August 21st
Professor Vincent Marks – The Insulin Murders

insulin Insulin is the hormoned that controls the body's use of glucose, and in the absence of insulin we develop hyperglycaemia - too high a concentration of glucose in the blood. If there is too much insulin, then hyperglycaemia develops - too low a blood concentration of glucose. This can be fatal, since glucose is required for the brain and red blood cells. In this presentation Professor Marks explains how people with murderous intent had found ways to commit murder by overdosing their victims with insulin and (the clever bit) how they were found out.

Vincent MarksVincent Marks went to Oxford on a scholarship to  study medicine just fter the Second World War. He became a world authority on hypoglycaemia early in his career, during which he was Professor of Clinical  Biochemistry at the University  of Surrey in Guildford,  where he was also Dean of the Science Faculty and founder of the Medical School. He is one of the pioneers of immunoassay and founder of the biotech company, ClifMar Associates, amongst others. He is a former  President of the Association  for Clinical  Biochemistry  and former  Vice-President   of  The  Royal  College  of  Pathologists.   He  is one of the  world's  leading  authorities  on the measurement  of insulin and has specialist  knowledge  of medical research,  including clinical  chemistry  and nutrition. Investigators  worldwide call upon his expertise  whenever  a  crime,  or  suspected  crime,  involves  insulin  or hypoglycaemia.

To suggest a guest speaker, or to offer to speak, please email u3aspeakersecretary@chiltern-u3a.org.uk


Copyright © Chiltern U3A 2014. This page updated November 12, 2018