Bridport Hall's future tied up in U3A program

COMMUNITY SPACE: A Bridport group is hoping the establishment of U3A courses will lead to upgrades to the Bridport Hall.
COMMUNITY SPACE: A Bridport group is hoping the establishment of U3A courses will lead to upgrades to the Bridport Hall.

A group of Dorset residents have agreed to establish University of the Third Age courses in Bridport to help secure the future of the Bridport Hall.

A public meeting was held at the hall last week to set up a working committee for the hall as well as gauge interest for setting up the U3A, which sees older community members share skills and knowledge in an informal and social setting. 

Wendy McLennan, who led the meeting with fellow Bridport resident Brian Khan, said plans to establish the U3A had come in response to talk of the hall being privatised.  

Mrs McLennan said organisers were hoping to begin facilitating courses as soon as possible.

“The steering committee is meeting again this week and I reckon we should have it going within a couple of months,” Mrs McLennan said. 

“We should be able to fill that hall five days a week with classes, but what we have to do is get a user base first, we have to get people interested in wanting to do the courses and choosing to run them, so that’s our next job.”

Port Sorell U3A coordinators Warren and Anne Lockett were guest speakers at the meeting, and spoke of how the concept had taken off in the South of the state. 

“They started off with something like five courses and now they've got 30 courses and 250 memberships and that's only after a couple of years so that’s how good it is, and I can see it's going to really work well in Bridport.

“The whole point is that (people) come out and they do one of the courses and then they go away and have coffee together afterwards, so there's a real social aspect to it. 

“It works well in a town where you have newcomers coming in and it helps them to meet likeminded people.”

Mrs McLennan also called on Dorset Council to consider upgrading the hall, which she says is in desperate need of being brought up to date.

“We have to get the use of the hall going more to prove that we want it but it is a community facility and it should be upgraded by council.

“The community needs it where it is and it shouldn't be up the community to go and raise money to get it upgraded.”