Monthly newsletter - February 2024

In this monthly newsletter:

  • From the committee
  • Announcements
  • Notes for your diaries
  • The January meeting
  • The next meeting
  • More about the newsletters
  • Future events
  • News from the groups
  • Rummikub
  • Reading group 2
  • A short story
  • u3a online events
  • Scam watch
  • Feedback

From the committee

  • Peter Haskell (Membership Secretary) reported that membership is now at 602, the highest ever figure. Membership renewals will be due from 31st March. (See below for details.)
  • Bridget Docwra (Groups Co-ordinator) reported that we have six registered interests (including one for Pickleball, three for Ukelele, one for Petanque). The Island shanties group has been enlarged and can now accommodate 45 members (and so the majority of people who were waiting to join the shanties group can now get in). Current affairs and Backgammon are two possible new groups which may be formed depending on the level of interest (If you are interested in any of these groups, please express an interest via the web site.)
  • Robert Bull (Newsletter Editor) reported that more positive feedback was received.
  • Arthur Jackson (Publicity). (Arthur was unable to attend the meeting but passed on his news through Fiona Barlett.) u3a Christmas cards were distributed to the six most worthy people who helped him with poster distribution. A poster showing the program of Thursday afternoon talks for 2024 was also distributed. Arthur also wrote an article in the January Herald to publicise the upcoming talk at HICCA on the afternoon of Thursday 15th February.


  • Advance Notice of Membership Renewals 2024/5. Once again it will soon be time to renew. Memberships will expire on Sunday March 31st 2024 so renewals for 24/25 will then be due. Please do not renew until you receive further notification via an all-member email in March when the renewal period starts. This is advanced notice. The renewal fees for 24/25 will remain at £15 for full members and £10 for associate members. The joining or re-joining fee will also be £15 for full members and £10 for associate with a sliding scale across the year.
  • Food Banks. We will collect tins and dried foodstuffs for both "Hayling Holiday Lunches" and "Community Pantry" food banks. The collection will be at each Hayling u3a monthly meeting (put food donations on the stage). In addition, a collection bucket will be available at the meeting if you prefer to give a cash donation. Please ensure that any food products you donate are within the sell-by date.
  • Volunteers Required. We are always looking for volunteers to help run our various activities. Currently we need additional tea monitors for making the tea/coffee at the monthly meetings. We run a rota so that you would only have to cover once or twice a year.

Notes for your diaries

  • The Island shanty group will be singing at St Mary's Church on Sunday 11th February at 3pm. All welcome.
  • Group leaders' meeting Friday 16th February 10.30am – 12noon. We have organised a coffee morning for group leaders to bring you up to date with our coming plans, share best practice and to answer any questions. It will be held in Hayling Community Centre, room 1.
  • 18th Birthday Celebrations Thursday 16th May 2pm. We will be celebrating our coming of age on the afternoon of our May monthly meeting. Sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee will be available after the talk.

The January meeting

The meeting held in the HICCA main hall on January 18th was: Animals in history. The talk was focused on some of the many animals that featured in history. The talk was colourful, entertaining and informative with numerous anecdotes. The following are some of the highlights from Susan Howe’s talk:

Marie Antoinette had many pets, but her favourites were her polydactyl cats. These cats have extra toes and can have up to eight on each paw. Legend holds that when Marie Antoinette was sent to prison awaiting her execution, her beloved Angora cats were saved by sailing away on a boat to America, eventually becoming ancestors of the Maine Coon breed.

Napoleon suffered from terrible piles. Sometimes when the pain was bad he was unable to sit on his horse. Legend says that when the Battle of Waterloo took place he was laying on his bed, unable to mount his horse and that is one of the reasons why the French lost.

Richard, Duke of York, following the War of the Roses, put Henry VI in the Tower of London. The conditions in the tower were very bad and most prisoners starved to death. However, legend says that Henry befriended a tower cat. The cat started to catch rats and pigeons and would bring them to Henry to eat. The cat was nicknamed ‘The Caterer Cat’ and soon the guards would cook the food so that Henry did not have to eat the gifts raw. The cat kept Henry alive and so he was able to return to the throne a few years later.

The psychic powers of animals and their ability to sense danger/tragedy. For example, animals refused to enter the concentration camps following the war. It was thought that the animals sensed the horror that had gone on in the camps.

Julie Taylor

The next meeting

The next meeting will be at 2pm on Thursday 15 February. Richard Swaine will tell us about 'Roman occupation of Britain and the roads they built 2,000 years ago. Click or tap here for details.

More about the newsletters

As well as the monthly newsletter, two longer newsletters will be published each year (Christmas and Summer) which will be available in electronic form on the Hayling u3a website. If you prefer a printed version then please ensure that you have selected this option in your details on our website. If you need help with this, please notify a committee member. Printed versions will be posted.

Using the online version reduces HIU3A costs and the effort needed to circulate the printed version. Please use the option to get a printed copy only if you need to - Web site editor.

Future events

There will be a trip to Arundel on Thursday 25th April. Click or tap here for details. The visit coincides with Arundel's annual tulip festival, which you will need to book separately.

News from the groups

  • The Meditation Group no longer meets. Ann Pearcey
  • The Mahjong group could do with two more players. Due to continuing health issues, the formation of the second Mahjong group has been cancelled. Russell McKerracher and Ann Pledge.
  • There are five spaces on the Card making groups – three spaces on Tuesday and two spaces Wednesday. Anne Hollis
  • Painting and Drawing 1 has two spaces. Terry Swain
  • A Current affairs group will be formed if at least four members are interested. Richard North and Alan Price


Rummikub (a tile-based game for 2 to 4 players, combining elements of the card game rummy and Mahjong) takes place on the fourth Friday and the first Monday of the month. If it falls on a Bank Holiday you need to look at the website for the alternative date. We meet at the Barley Mow 10am to 12noon and players always purchase a beverage.

Rummikub is proving very popular and we usually have 16-20 members playing. We haven't restricted the list of members yet because there are always those absent with holidays, illness or another. Some members come to both groups. We play and chat at the same time so it’s a very social occasion.

If anyone has a Rummikub set they no longer need and would like to donate it, please contact one of the group leaders. This will ensure we always have enough sets for those that come. Click or tap here and here for details.

Reading group 2

Our January meeting was afternoon tea at the 'Three Beans and a Tea Leaf' coffee shop as our post-Christmas/Welcome 2024 Celebration. At present we consist of eight members with number nine about to join us.

Some of the books that most members enjoyed reading in 2023 were:

  • Those Who are Loved by Victoria Hislop
  • Two Brothers by Ben Elton
  • Limitless by Tim Peake.

And some and some disappointments were:

  • Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchan
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Winter Games by Rachel Johnson.

Click or tap here for details of Reading Group 2.

Is reading good for you? Click or tap here for details.

A short story

Have I got news for you!

The reporter stood at the end of the hospital bed, his notebook held up ready and his pencil poised. He surveyed the figure lying in the bed, swathed in bandages. “Now sir, can you tell me what happened to you. Your own words will have so much more impact on our readers you understand?” The figure nodded and took a breath. “Well,” he began. “I was just minding my own business, sitting on the wall when suddenly a figure ran past me at top speed with a pig under his arm. He’d obviously stolen it.” The reporter nodded and wrote down, figure carrying a stolen pig. “Do you have any idea who the figure was?” He asked. “Well, I think it might have been Tom the Pipers son, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Anyway, in the rush and surprise, I fell off the wall and this is the result.” Did anyone come to your aid sir?” The reporter was scribbling hard. “Well, that was a fiasco if ever I saw one.” Replied the figure. “Firstly, the Duke of York tried to muster all the King’s horses and all the King’s men. You’ve never seen such a pantomime. He marches them up the hill and then down again as he couldn’t see me up there. I was down on the floor in pieces wasn’t I? They were up on horseback so of course they couldn’t see me. Then to make matters worse, while I was lying there, these sheep started sniffing round me”

The reporter paused in his writing. “Did you say sheep?” “Yes, sheep. I think they had escaped from that dozy shepherdess, you know the one I mean? That’s right Bo Peep. Well with a name like that she must be dozy. I’d have changed it if it was mine, wouldn’t you?” The reporter mumbled something unintelligible and wrote busily on his pad. “Anyway,” continued the figure “These two youngsters come stumbling past, a boy and a girl. The boy was holding a piece of brown paper to his head which smelt strongly of vinegar. They said that they had fallen over when they went to fetch a pail of water and were now on their way to the hospital, so I asked them to send someone sane to pick me up and bring me here to the hospital. Which they kindly did, and now you see me. Will that do for your paper?”

The reporter paused and read his copy back to the figure in the bed. He looked at the bandages and he didn’t really think that they were going to be much help putting a larger than life egg back together again, but he didn’t want to depress the patient so he just smiled and said “Thank you very much Mr Dumpty. I hope that they catch the boy who stole the pig.”

© Fiona Bartlett (Creative writing group)

u3a online events

The u3a Trust conducts a national learning programme month by month. For details click or tap here.

Scam watch

Not u3a-specific, but an issue which affects all of us. A friend has written an excellent series of videos about scammers and the different ways in which they can try and deceive you.

(I see this scam shared more often than any other on Facebook. If I can find them, I'm sure Meta AI could do more to find and exterminate these parasitic scammers. - Sue Kenworthy, December 2023.)

(A news item about the missing pet scam was on the BBC News on 15th January. Click/tap here for details.)

Tip: Don’t use the same password for several websites. Some advice on using computers is available at Hayling Library (note that you must be library card holder).


Any comments would be welcome. Please send any feedback to

Robert Bull