A UNIQUE university in Warrington, which was launched for people in their ‘third age’ to share their knowledge, skills and experience, celebrated 20 years of service last month.

The Warrington University of the Third Age (WU3A) has grown considerably from its first public meeting when the attendance level was described as ‘disappointingly low’.

But founding member Don Parsons, who chaired the meeting in the Community Centre in Padgate, was not deterred and the Warrington WU3A was officially born in August 1994 with only 11 members.

Fast forward 20 years and WU3A, which celebrated its 20th birthday with a barn dance, has grown in numbers with more 900 members currently signed up.

Jennie Radley, former chairman and member of the U of Third age, aged 80, strongly believes that the university would not be where it is today without the hard work and dedication of Don.

She said: “Not only did he set the ball rolling, contacting other U3As in the region to find how they operated, and acting as general dogsbody to do any task that came up in the formative stage, he became chairman when WU3A was launched, and started a computer group in the first year.

“He was always ready to help, and very willing to roll up his sleeves to get a job done.”

The university now has more than 40 interest groups, which cater for members’ cultural, social and physical interests from art appreciation to walking with extra activities and holidays organised throughout the year.

“It’s all a far cry from those early days,” said Jennie.

“U3A is not an organisation for old people as most members reject the label. The eligibility is for people no longer in full time employment, and there is no upper age limit.”

An enrolment and registration meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 3, at 2pm at the Masonic Rooms in Winmarleigh Street.

For more information visit u3a.org.uk/warrington.