President's Report - AGM 2024

PRESIDENT’S REPORT TO AGM 2023/2024

I would like to welcome you all here today and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet.

Today I am standing down after three years as your President and ten years on the committee in various roles. It is time for me to recharge my batteries and let someone else steer the U3ACC ship. So, this will be my final report to the AGM. My three years as President have been made more challenging because of COVID lockdowns and the subsequent cancellation of many courses. But we stepped up and introduced Zoom classes and meetings, so it was also a worthwhile learning curve.

The past year, however, has been trouble free and successful for U3A Central Coast. Over two semesters we have held over 140 courses and activities which provided an abundance of opportunities for all our members to gather for learning and laughter.

Although we have lost a couple of our long-standing leaders over the past couple of years, we have picked up some new leaders willing to give their time and expertise. They offered new and interesting courses for our members to enjoy. U3A Central Coast offers a wide range of courses from academic subjects through to coffee mornings, but the programme each year is restricted by dependence on leaders’ offerings. Our committee is always on the lookout for new leaders and presenters. We are keen to maximise our program of classes to help reduce waiting lists, induce our existing members to re-join and attract new members. One initiative we have taken advantage of to boost our offerings to members, has been the Zoom Online weekly forums conducted by U3A ACT. Many of our members have found these most interesting.

To our existing leaders a big thank you for your contribution and hard work in researching and presenting your classes and organising special events. As a group we benefit greatly from the store of knowledge amongst our membership and appreciate our tutors sharing this with us.

After a drop in membership during the COVID years, we had a surge in membership in 2023 and at year end the membership was 558. Due to a deficit at the end of 2023 and rising costs, it became necessary to increase our fees in 2024 to $55. We need to ensure our membership numbers continue to grow to ensure we remain in a healthy financial state.

To boost our membership, during 2023 we increased the exposure of U3A Central Coast through talks at Probus Groups, and retirement villages, advertisements on Radio 50 Plus, inviting local politicians to our annual lunch, distributing our brochures far and wide in the community and the increasing take up of our Facebook Page. Thank you to our Publicity Officer for his outreach in these areas.

I have been fortunate to have a cohesive and active committee behind me during my term as President and must thank every one of them for their hard work and enthusiasm. I don’t think our members understand how much work goes into the administration and management of our wonderful organisation. We are all volunteers; we don’t have an office or any paid staff, so we are grateful for the members who put their hand up to assist during the year. If you would like to have your name on our list of volunteers, please contact a member of the committee today. We are fortunate to have a full committee and in fact are looking to increase the committee membership thanks to the interest from our calls for assistance.

The other matter that our members are often unaware, is that we are part of a worldwide organisation, and operate under the guidance of the U3A NSW Network that provides information, advice, and support to member U3A’s.

We are also part of the Central Coast/Hunter Region of U3A’s. Our regional rep Jean Lewis was to join us today but has sent her apologies due to ill health. She asked me to do a plug for the State Conference which is coming up in April, close by at Lake Macquarie, and any financial member is welcome to attend. Details are on our website and the newsletter.

On a national level, U3A Australia is in continuing discussions with Government and other Peak Bodies at both national and State levels focused on strengthening existing collaborative relationships between U3A and seniors’ organisations such as COTA (Council of Ageing). On a local level, we hope that the attendance of our local members, Adam Crouch and Leisl Tesch at our annual lunch will increase our exposure to the senior’s community of the Central Coast.

Whilst the aim of U3A is to provide affordable learning opportunities for older people, it is also to provide a social outlet. Our annual lunch is one such event that brings our members together in a social setting. The lunch was again held at The Entertainment Grounds at Gosford Race Club and was a great success with around 140 members attending. There was good food, great entertainment, and good times as our members mixed with old friends and new. Thanks must go to Yolande Enright our Social Secretary for organising this event and other occasions such as our new members morning tea which was held in March and our annual Leader’s thank you lunch which was held in November. Thank you also to the volunteers who help on these occasions and as required during the year.

I have mentioned a couple of the committee, but would like to acknowledge the entire management committee, each of whom has a vital role to play in our continued success.

They are Lindy Allen, Venue Co-Ordinator and Vice President, Margaret Bevege Secretary and Public Officer, Anne Denholm Treasurer, Pam Crerar and Judy Frewen who shared the Course Leader Co-ordinator role, a special thank you Judy for stepping in when needed, Dena Blumenthal Class Manager & IT administrator, Gayle Hartley Membership Secretary, Yolande Enright Social Secretary, Brian Freeman Publicity, Margaret Robertson Web Administrator, Penny Alexander Newsletter Editor and ancillary assistance from Linda Sydell, Marie Reynolds and Carolyn Fairweather. Please join me in sharing your appreciation of this dedicated team that keep U3A Central Coast ticking and moving forward, looking ahead to a bright future.

In closing I would like to thank each and every one of you for being part of our wonderful organisation: you all contribute in your own way to ensure the continued success of U3A Central Coast. And on a personal note, thanks for your friendship over the past ten years and good luck to the new management team.