Dorchester and District U3A celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014. It is difficult to select the actual date when it all started but discussions about forming a Dorchester U3A started in 1994 by a small group of people and the venture took time to organise. Time to assess the support for the group, time to arrange funding, available tutors, and not least, accommodation.
A Steering Group had preparations well in hand with support from local organisations, individuals and the U3A National Office. Accommodation in Dorchester was – and still is – difficult to find but Rowan Cottage (Dorchester & District Old Peoples' Welfare Committee as it was then) was a great help in those early days.
The first membership Registration Day had 40 registrations from a large area around Dorchester including Weymouth. For that reason the Group was originally named as the Dorchester and Weymouth U3A. Following publicity and word-of-mouth more members joined from as far afield as Bridport and Blandford although today these towns have their own thriving U3A groups.
The original venue for the groups was Rowan Cottage but Sandringham Court, the Friends Meeting House and members’ homes were also used.
It wasn’t until 1999 that the hall and classrooms of the Holy Trinity Parish centre became available with the hall used mainly for the ‘First Wednesday’ plenary meeting each month. This later became the ‘First Monday’ meeting being more convenient to all.
Today the Dorchester and District U3A has over 40 interest/activity groups with more than 500 members and is still growing. Happily some of our original members are still with us.