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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.

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 2016

Forthcoming general meetings:

Please note that speakers are booked a year or more in advance, and are subject to change, sometimes at short notice. Any changes will be noted in the e-bulletin sent to members fortnightly, and on this website.


August 16
Chrissie's Owls: Chrissie Harper

owlFrom Chrissie’s Owls website:  www.chrissiesowls.com
Chrissie's Owls provide a rescue service for injured wild owls and also captive bred owls that for one reason or another need caring for and rehoming. We are committed to the conservation of these wonderful creatures and provide nest boxes for barn owls, tawny owls, little owls and kestrels. Owls are wonderful creatures and we are totally committed to helping them all we can. They are all happy to come out with us and help us promote the conservation of our native species of owl; we believe that by educating people of all ages about owls we can make a small contribution to their survival in the wild.

Owls will be present at this meeting, but they will not be flying round the Drake Hall.

September 20th
Two ways that patients help with research on rheumatoid arthritis - as research subjects and as research partners: Professor John Kirwan BSc MB BS (Lond) MD FRCP(UK)

john kirwanProfessor Kirwan writes: My intention would be to show some research results and get the audience to work out what they mean, and then to engage in discussions about how patients (and the public) can contribute to the advancement of research ideas and show what has happened in this particular disease.

I have worked on the best way to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatological conditions, particularly using low-dose glucocorticoids ("steroids") and how this may relate to the underlying pathology of the condition. I have also worked extensively on the best way of measuring the outcomes of treatment, and in particular to do so in a way which is rigorous but also relevant and meaningful for patients. This has led to publications on ways to interact with patients as partners in research and the promotion of patient and public involvement.

Professor Kirwan trained in Rheumatology at The Royal London Hospital, where he also undertook his MD thesis working on assessment techniques in rheumatoid arthritis. Professor Kirwan coordinated the team that first showed unequivocally that glucocorticoids (often called “steroids”) are able to hold back the progress of rheumatoid arthritis. He was Head of the Academic Unit in Bristol from 1995 to 2014, and his research interests continue to centre on glucocorticoids (and new types of glucocorticoid treatment) and methods to engage patients as partners in research.

Professor Kirwan has also been instrumental in developing and testing new approaches to long term patient management, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis. Working in close collaboration with GP and nursing colleagues his unit developed the ‘direct access’ system for managing established disease, and have recently audited their NICE-compliant care pathway for newly diagnosed patients.

In his spare time, Professor Kirwan likes to go hill walking, and is Chairman of Trustees of Cabot District Scouts.

October 18th
History without the boring bits: Susan Howe

Susan HoweHistory without the boring bits is Susan’s light hearted look back at our history as to why Charles II keeps popping out of his coffin, which of his ladies preferred her parrot to his attentions, and why was Henry V’s queen not buried for another two hundred years? Susan spoke last to our membership about working for Sir John Betjeman when she stood in for his PA for a year, and cooking for Brigitte Bardot’s ex-husband, and tracking down tigers in the jungles of India without being eaten.

Susan was a cook on a yacht in the Mediterranean in the 60s when she met Brigitte Bardot's ex-husband Gunter Sachs and went to cook for him and his celebrity guests in his chalet in St Moritz.
In the early 70s Susan worked for Sir John Betjeman, soon to become Poet Laureate. She stood in for his long-standing PA for a year and met his famous teddy bear, Archie.

Susan then worked for the British Tourist Authority, organising and escorting groups of foreign journalists around the country. She went on to work for the British Council, welcoming foreign students to London.
After completing the notoriously demanding exam set by the London Tourist Board, Susan qualified as a Blue Badge Guide. This most prestigious qualification in the profession enabled her to guide at all the major London sites and throughout the UK.

As a guide, she has accompanied an amazing array of specialist groups on tours around the UK. These have ranged from Hymnologists studying hymn writers to Mills & Boon authors specialising in the Regency period, and from debt collectors to the American Bar Association and the 200-strong Yale Alumni Choir.

As a result of being a Blue Badge Guide, Susan has worked as a tour manager overseas alongside specialist lecturers. She has taken painting tours to Zanzibar, riding tours in the Rockies, wildlife tours in Africa and tiger tours to the jungles of India. She has a special love of the subcontinent and has researched and escorted a tour of private gardens in India.

In between all this, Susan has run an award-winning country house hotel and leased a stunning National Trust property on the Devon coast, Coleton Fishacre, where guests were welcome at all times.

Her website is www.selectideas.co.uk/susanhowe

November 15th
Desert Island Pictures - pictures to take to a desert island: Serena Quatermaine

Think about which pictures you would choose to take to a desert island.

Serena first came to us in June 2004, she is an art historian and been a lecturer for the Open University
She talked to us about ‘Two Views of a Landscape –Turner and Constable’; two painters she greatly admired.
Turner being born in 1775 and Constable in 1776. Serena described their parallel careers. Turner became successful and wealthy at an early age. Constable on the other hand was first recognised in France and did not receive recognition in Britain until quite late in life. Constable became increasingly embittered and died very suddenly in l837. Turner continued to paint into old age and died in l851.

On Serena’s second visit in May 2006 her talk was ‘The Human Face’ on how portraits can flatter the sitter or give a true and accurate likeness. The many slides she showed bought the paintings alive by her knowledge of the detail of the pictures and also by her knowledge of the people portrayed and the reasons behind the painting of the portraits.

My thanks to the newsletters from 2004 and 2006 for the above information.

December 6th (Please note that this meeting is the first week in December)
Victorian Christmas: a celebration: Andrew Davies MA

Victorian XmasTo round off our year, a look back to how the Victorians celebrated Christmas. Knowing Andrew it will be a truly exuberant celebration.
Andrew started his career in the legal profession but realised he had a passion for London, and the people who had made it come alive over the centuries. He has a vast knowledge about our capital city and he is well known to many for his informative talks and his London walks, during which, despite the noise of London’s traffic, you can be sure to hear every word he says. He is a blue badge guide and has lectured all over the world, has written several books and is a frequent contributor to radio and television.

To suggest a speaker for a general meeting, or to offer to speak, please email u3ageneral@chiltern-u3a.org.uk


Copyright © Chiltern U3A 2014. This page updated July 27, 2017