For a town of this size there is plenty to keep you busy and many ways to have fun, make new friends, learn new things and visit new places…especially if you are over 50. I went along to find out more about two of the groups we have in the local area, Edenbridge Active Retirement Association (EdenARA) and Edenbridge Univsersity of the Third Age (U3A). Both groups meet monthly, have speakers at their meetings and have large memberships but offer quite different activities to their members.
- Chair: Stephanie King – 01732 864 487
- Meeting Venue: Edenbridge WI Hall
- Time of meetings: Monthly 2nd Friday, 2.15-4.30pm
- Website: kentara.weebly.com
EdenARA was formed in 2007 and has approximtely 140 members coming not just from the Edenbridge area but also Sevenoaks, Westerham, Lingfield and Oxted.
The group is part of KentARA, founded in 1997, which now has 52 clubs across Kent. Edenbridge members are able to take part in additional activities organised by KentARA.
It is very much a community focused organisation helping people over the age of 50 who are not in full time gainful employment, to remain active.
The monthly meetings at the WI Hall consist of a speaker or entertainer and members can socialise during the tea break.
There are numerous activities and events organised throughout the year such as:
- Walks with pub lunches
- Short mat bowls
- Diners Club
- Theatre trips
- Barn dances
Annual activities include a quiz, beetle drive, golf competition and games evening as well as an Easter tea party and cream teas.
There are also organised trips for members to enjoy which normally take place once a month (for a reasonable charge) and these have included river boat trips, stately home visits, steam train rides, seaside visits.
Clubs such as this are lifelines where people can make new friends, join many of the activities and even change their lifestyle. One member said “I didn’t know anyone when I moved into the area in 2007 and it has helped me make new friends.”
Although there is a short waiting list for membership, the group are actively looking for new members, especially people who would be willing to contribute to the club and who are interested in participating in, and furthering the work of EdenARA.
Each year the group choose a local charity to raise funds for and this year it is Edenbridge Voluntary Transport Service.
- Chairman: Mike Collins
- Meeting Venue: Crockham Hill Village Hall
- Time of meetings: Monthly Last Tuesday, 2-4pm
- Website: edenbridgeu3a.co.uk
By the end of the launch meeting in July 2013, 50 members had already signed up to join this fast growing organisation. This group is also for anyone over the age of 50 who is retired or semi-retired.
Originally meeting at Rickards Hall in the High Street the group had to move to a larger venue last year in order to accommodate the large membership, now nearly at 200 members.
Outside of the regular monthly meetings there is a wide selection of hobby and interest groups for members to participate in. Each group is led by a member who will organise their own groups. Whether it’s bird watching, golf, bridge, gardening, rock’n’roll, art (and more to choose from) it would be difficult not to find something to suit your interests. The only cost involved in participating in these groups is minimal to cover material costs, travel or venue hire.
If a member has a particular interest then they are free to set up a group if there are others interested in joining.
I spoke to a few of the members to find out what they liked most about U3A and they were all consistent in telling me its the variety of activities on offer which appeal to such a diverse membership. There really is something for everyone, and of course the social aspect.
The first part of the monthly meetings involves a speaker and afterwards members are able to socialise over tea and biscuits.
So if you fancy trying something new in 2016 why not pay a visit to one of these groups (or both)? They are open to both men and women and you may even surprise yourself at how much you enjoy it.
Don’t forget you can find a full list of clubs and organisations on the website.
Featured in: Issue 80 – January/February 2016