About Us

University of the Third Age

U3As (the University of the Third Age) are self-help organisations for people no longer in full time employment providing educational, creative and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment. There are local U3As all over the UK, which are charities in their own right and are run entirely by volunteers. The first U3A in this country was formed in Cambridge in 1982 and countrywide, there are now over 900 U3As catering for over 320,000 people. They are part of the “Life Long Learning” initiative. The U3A approach to learning is – learning for pleasure. There is no accreditation or validation and there are no assessments or qualifications to be gained.

U3As are independently managed charitable associations with their own constitutions.  They are all members of The Third Age Trust which underpins the work of local U3As by providing educational and administrative support to their management committees and to individual members and assists in the development of new U3As across the UK. The main principles of the U3A movement are set out in a Mission Statement.

Our History

Princes Risborough & District U3A was formed in 2001. It was the initiative of James Scott-Smith ably aided by Michael George and Geoff Young. Michael George was elected the first Chairman of Princes Risborough U3A with James Scott-Smith, Anne Legg and Peter Wotton becoming Secretary, Membership Secretary and Treasurer. The other members of the inaugural Committee were Keith Johnson, Joyce Davies, John Hodge, Bill Scutt and Mick Gurney. Lesley Ball was recruited later in the year as Minutes Secretary. Geoff Young was also involved in his role helping the National Organisation set up new U3As in the Thames Valley area. Princes Risborough was the 29th U3A in the Thames Valley.


The basis for U3A membership is set out in our constitution but the key factors are that you are not in full time employment (and so have the time to become involved) and you are interested in learning new things.

To enquire about membership please see the page How to Join.

Interest Groups

The core of any U3A is its various groups. Some of our Groups may have only a handful of members while others have 40 or 50. Many meet on a particular day of the month in the same place while others (such as the Theatre Group) meet as and when they have the opportunity. Groups meet either in a member’s home or in a meeting room in the town. Details of when and where groups meet along with contact details for the Group Leader can be found on the relevant Interest Group page and in PReVIEW our bi-annual magazine. There is usually a small charge for group meetings to cover room hire, refreshments, photocopying etc. and the cost of any outside speakers. Similarly there may be charges for outings covering coach hire and entrance fees. We currently have around 30 Groups, but if anyone has an interest that could form the basis of a new Group, then please speak up – and we will support you in setting it up (there is a note under the Group Leaders Section on the About Us tab giving you advice if you want to set up a new group or help run one).

As a member of our U3A you are entitled to join Groups in neighbouring U3As where we don’t have an equivalent Group (and vice versa). Our Bridge Group for example has members from both Risborough and Chinnor U3As.


Every member gets a copy of PReVIEW twice a year. It contains information on planned activities as well as contact information for Group Leaders and the Committee. While this website provides the latest information on our activities, both what is planned and reports on what has been done, PReVIEW will also include private details such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses which Group Leaders and Committee members may not want to be available on-line.

We also contact our members by email from time to time using our central email account u3arisborough@gmail.com

Thames Valley Network

The Thames Valley Network is an umbrella organisation for all of the individual U3As in the region. Its aim is to advance the education of members, mainly through the provision of study days and training sessions. It also encourages the provision of leisure activities and social welfare by facilitating cooperation between U3As in the network.

Information on planned study days and training days as well as an form for suggesting subjects for the future study days can be found on the TVN website.

Next: How to Join


Learning Together