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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.

Click here for Ramji  Abinashi's slides on Aspects of India, from the General Meeting on April 17th 2019

Staying safe on-line and avoiding scams.

Click here for guidance on smart devices, and click here for the presentation by Mark Godsland of Thames Valley Police Cyber Protect on May 15th 2019.


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 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.

Wednesday September 18th
Tony Earle - A look at the Musicals

pictureThe film musical provided an escape into a dream world and Tony will be showing film clips, trailers and pictures from the 1880’s to modern times so a nostalgic afternoon to enjoy. Tony is a retired photographic scientist who worked for Kodak for 40 years and says his talks are non-technical and are delivered in an easy, relaxed and amusing manner. So a light hearted afternoon before the autumn sets in.

Wednesday October 16th
Professor James Hough – Are We Alone?

extrasolar planetProfessor Hough writes: Renewed interest has been stimulated, inter alia, by the discovery of hundreds of extrasolar planets [planets around other stars] in the last 20 years.  However, the possibility of life elsewhere in our solar system, especially on Mars, has a chequered history going back over 100 years.


What are the conditions for life elsewhere to exist, how might it be discovered, and are the chances of detecting life elsewhere very high or very low?

Professor Hough led the astronomy research programme at the University of Hertfordshire for almost 40 years, retiring as Director of the Centre for Astrophysics in 2010. The Centre has over 60 researchers and covers a wide range of astronomy from exoplanets to high-redshift galaxies.
he has published ~200 refereed papers with a majority of these based on polarimetric observations in the optical and near-infrared using instruments designed and built by myself and used at major observatories in Australia, Hawaii and the Canary Islands.

I was awarded the Daiwa-Adrian prize for UK-Japan scientific collaborations in 1998, and the Royal Astronomical Society Herschel Medal in 2010.

Wednesday November 20th
Chiltern U3A 20th Anniversary starting at 2:30 until 5:00pm

A look back at who started our branch of the U3A and how they went about it, with guests from within the organisation and outside, as well as a variety of other informative and entertaining items covering the last 20 years and looking forward to the future.

Because of limited seating in the Drake Hall, admission will be by ticket only, free of charge, first come, first served. Just send a stamped self-addressed envelope to David Bender, 8 Eagle Close, Amersham HP6 6TD with a note of how many tickets you want.

Wednesday December 18th 2019
Rupert Matthews – The History of Christmas Food

xmas foodRupert Matthews was educated at Esher Grammar School  and worked as a freelance writer and journalist and to date has written over 170 books and numerous magazine articles as well as appearing on TV and radio. He offers a range of lively talks packed with amusing anecdotes, and the one chosen for us will be The History of Christmas Food.

As an Author his books have been mostly on history or military subjects, though in recent years he has been writing about ghosts, cryptozoology, UFOs and other paranormal subjects. Rupert Matthews was a candidate for the European parliament in 2009 but eventually became MEP for the East Midlands in July 2017 following many years of campaigning on behalf of local people across the East Midlands, and as he said ‘It is not often that you arrive for your first day in a new job in the sure and certain hope of the redundancy to come, But so it was for me on Monday when I took up my position as a Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands’.

And so once no longer an MEP Rupert will again be giving a series of talks around the country.


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


Copyright © Chiltern U3A 2014 - 2019. This page updated May 29, 2019