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CHAIRMAN'S BLOG 20

by Richard Thomas - 15:13 on 30 January 2014

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG 20

29 JANUARY 2014

This is a catch up from two meetings – the general meeting on 16 January, when we heard from Andrew Appleby on Neolithic pottery in Orkney and the Committee meeting held today.

Andrew’s talk centred around the techniques developed by the potters in adapting their work to the available clay and how potentially sophisticated they were.  Essentially Orkney did have a supply of high quality clay for pottery making before firing the pots became essential.  Through rising seas and over-use the original clay used became exhausted and unavailable; what was left was poor quality for the sort of wares that were needed by folk.  He believes that by trial and error they used media such as duck fat to bind the clay; when it was moulded, it was more stable than the unrefined clay and when fired produced pots of a high quality.  He had experimented with this and was satisfied that his theory held water (as did the pots).  A great deal of work is going on in this area and indeed his talk was essentially that which he had delivered at the British Museum to the pottery and Neolithic curators.

At today’s Committee, we caught up on events since we last met in November.  Next year’s programme of events is nearly finalised with just one speaker to be confirmed.  We remain in a reasonably good financial state with a surplus not far off annual income from subscriptions.  Membership is steadily growing with every meeting which is pleasing to report.

We have been asked to support Orkney U3A signing up to making a Fair Trade commitment. All this requires is for us to at least make Fair Trade provisions - tea, coffee, sugar & biscuits available at our meetings and to possibly promote these produces in the future. The Orkney Fair Trade Group has applied for our Islands to have Fair Trade status,  with the support of OIC, which may be confirmed in the near future. There is also a Fair Trade fortnight coming up between 24th February and 7th March 2014, when there will be additional events going on in Orkney to promote Fair Trade.  The Orkney Fair Trade Group is supported by many local shops, restaurants, clubs, faith groups & other groups & organisations and OIC.

The Committee felt this to be a good thing to support in principle and have confirmed that a talk on Fair trade will be in the next programme of events.  I will raise this at the next general meeting on February 19th. 

The U3A’s national website is being significantly uprated and now has new noticeboards for research whereby every U3A member can submit a notice asking for assistance on a project accessed through ‘Learn the U3A way’ in the members’ area on the site.  Similarly there is a general noticeboard which can be accessed through the individual U3A’s home page to ask other U3a’s for advice or information on a particular issue – go to links on our home page and see how you go.  You will need to register as a member to gain access but that is well worth doing anyway.

While I’m on the subject of home pages can I ask those groups who at present do not regularly update the home page with their activities if they would consider so- doing please.  This is a great way for all members to be able to find out what is going on perhaps with a view to signing up for something new.  The best way is to start up a blog if you haven’t already done so and include photographs of members and what you have been doing.  If you look at what’s there now it will give you a guide for your own group. The U3A Facebook page is also a very good means of telling everyone in the Orkney group what you’re up to as well as giving another way of communicating what we’re about. Have a talk to Sally MacKintosh about what you might do.  She’ll be delighted to advise and help.

The only other thing I want to remind you all is that I stand down from the Chair at the AGM and we will need to find someone willing to stand.  The work isn’t arduous – it’s chairing the general meetings and the committee, occasional forays to give talks to interested groups, working in liaison with the Scottish U3A as well as the national body, keeping up links with our neighbours across the Firth and further south. 

We also would be delighted to have some new faces on the Committee so if you are happy to participate please don’t be shy – stand for election.

Otherwise that is enough of me.  I hope to see you all at the next meeting on February 19th when Tim’s Group will be showing their work with a quiz to test your knowledge.  And don’t forget, the AGM will be at the St Magnus Centre on 19th march when Ken Hambly and his musicians will serenade us with tunes as well as letting those who can sing.

Richard
29 January 2014.


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