Extracts from an article written by our President Robert Christian and published in the Dorchester & District Newsletter of Summer 2011.
Somewhere back in 1994, having taken early retirement and not wanting to merely vegetate, I went to the Volunteer Bureau to see what use there was left and was pointed to Rowan Cottage which if memory serves was then “The Dorchester and District Old Peoples’ Welfare Committee”.
A steering group was set up with help from Bournemouth U3A with a view to setting up a U3A group in Dorchester. The first steering group members were Sue Foot, Sonia Alexander, Elizabeth Barton, Audrey Matthews, Jim Thompson and John Herslett.
I remember that we launched in the Record Office and I think I am right in remembering five groups initially, four of which are still going. I was the first “treasurer” and Lesley Archibald’s mother, the auditor ( she had accounting experience). This arrangement had its moments as we used a jam jar instead of a bank. If we had money, we put it in and if we needed any, we took it out. The best that one can say is that the first year’s accounts balanced.
We had originally about 40 members and for some obscure reason an annual subscription of £7. Try dividing that one into twelve equal instalments.
Most of our activities were invented “on the hoof”, such as, for example, the first Monday monthly get together – although it was originally First Wednesday but we changed because of market day congestion.
The first group meetings were in a variety of places. Antiques Appreciation (Sonia Alexander) in the Friends Meeting House, some in Rowan Cottage ( I did this on Wednesday mornings and helped serve at the lunch club straight after.). The 1997 Newsletter shows groups already in existence and meeting in the Scout and Guides Hall, members’ homes, Rowan Cottage and, because our numbers grew so rapidly, at Sandringham Court.
The same year we moved having grown even more, to our present venue, the Holy Trinity Hall and its smaller rooms. Soon after we obtained a grant from the Awards for All lottery fund to purchase our sound equipment, an overhead projector and a slide projector. After that the rest is as you may say, history.
Memory is a fickle thing and if we don’t record it now future members will be denied knowledge of what was at times, quite an adventure.