It’s an organisation that shows it’s fun to learn from your 50s onwards and has more than 1,000 members in Huddersfield.

The Huddersfield and District U3A was set up in the town exactly 40 years ago in 1984 offering masses of opportunities for people to learn new skills ranging from chess to making music.

Although it took a big hit from the pandemic when it was closed for the best part of two years, the numbers are now doing OK and there are 78 tutors.

It remains really inexpensive with U3A membership costing just £16 a year and each class is £15 for a 10-week term. U3A provides recreational and educational activities for people aged 50 and over and anyone who is disabled.

Huddersfield and District U3A chair Dr Dallas Cliff said: “When it was originally formed it had over 3,000 members. The organisation was hit by the Covid pandemic which closed it down for two years with only a handful of classes running online using Zoom. Since then we have recovered to just over 1,000 current members.

“The U3A faces a number of challenges for the future. Our membership is aging with members being mainly over 70. We have a lack of younger members and tutors at the younger 50s and early 60s end of the age spectrum.”

Dr Cliff added that society has changed which may have led to a fall in U3A numbers.



“There is now a lack of retirement opportunities with people needing to work longer and a decline in generous retirement schemes,” he said.

“Changing lifestyles and interests suggest that the decline in U3A membership mirrors that of golf, tennis and cricket clubs and political parties, all of which seem to have problems attracting younger members.

“On the positive side the membership is still substantial with 78 tutors and leaders organising a wide variety of activities. We have an active and enthusiastic committee and the membership and width of activities is relatively large compared to other towns of a comparable size.”

Huddersfield and District U3A was set up in 1984 by ex-midwife Edith Bentley, MBE, who died in 2008 at the age of 93 and used to live in Fartown.

Huddersfield U3A’s music activities include a ladies choir, a mixed choir, an orchestra, two guitar groups and a ukulele fun and singalong group.

It’s strong on languages including five French groups, four German, five Spanish and three Italian, all catering for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels.

For those interested in chess, bridge and Mah Jong there are groups that teach people how to play and others where members can simply come and play.

People enjoying an active lifestyle join the bowls, French Boule, Tai Chi, Scottish dancing, table tennis, walking and cycling groups.

Arts and crafts feature strongly with groups on painting, wood carving, photography, embroidery, dressmaking, patchwork and quilting.

One-off events include days out on coach trips and the U3A always hosts its own carol service at Christmas.



Huddersfield U3A is a registered charity governed by a constitution and run by a committee elected by members. All committee members, tutors and course coordinators are volunteers.

To mark its 40th anniversary the U3A has competitions for poetry, photography and painting.

A special anniversary concert was held at Moldgreen United Reform Church in April featuring the U3A ladies’ choir, the mixed choir, the guitar group, the ukulele group and the mixed band who played to a full house of U3A members and guests. The event raised several hundred pounds for Huddersfield U3A’s partner charities The Kirkwood and Age UK.

A 40th anniversary celebratory dinner will be held at Greenhead Masonic Hall on September 27 where there will be entertainment and prizes awarded for the various competitions that have been running throughout the year. There is an Anniversary Walk at Greenhead Park on Tuesday, September 10.

The U3A started in France in 1973 and then spread to the UK, Germany, Italy, eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

In the UK each separate U3A is a self-financing and self-managing charity with its own constitution and policies.

There are now more than 1,000 branches across the country with around 450,000 members.

For more on Huddersfield and District U3A and to see its full range of classes go to its website at

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting. 

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