University of the Third Age north London chapter in Barnet, Harrow and Borehamwood looks for new members

'We're experiencing things we never thought we would' - lively retirees go back to university

Students say the U3A movement proves curiosity can be piqued at any age

The lively classes mean 'so much' to the university's students

First published in News
Last updated
This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter - north London

Most people spend their days wistfully looking back on their school years - but that dream is still a reality for one group of pensioners.

Every week, retirees from across north London get their brains into gear at University of the Third Age sessions.

The lively classes range from psychology, medicine and public affairs to art, scrabble and cryptic crosswords.

Former civil servant Jose Berger, of Stonegrove, Edgware, became part of the movement the day she retired in 1990.

By 1995, she was so inspired she launched the north London chapter, and has never looked back.

She said: “It’s wonderful - a truly tremendous place for everyone to be.

“It means you don’t have to stay at home in front of the TV with your slippers on, and nowhere to go. We’re out in the world, experiencing things we never thought we would.

“For many, their lives have only ever been about looking after their husbands, wives and children. But after retiring they can do something truly for themselves for the first time.”

Sessions are spread out across north London - some are held in people’s houses across Barnet, Harrow, and Borehamwood and others take place in Glebe Hall, Stanmore Broadway.

The inquisitive students now want to raise awareness about the university, which they say proves people's curiosity can be piqued at any age.

Hendon resident Judith Abrahams, 74, said: “I’ve been coming for years - but it means so much more to me now as I lost my husband a year ago.

“I like to keep active by playing bridge, but this is another distraction, it gets your brain ticking and stops you from stagnating.”

The group, who are all over 55, often venture away from the hustle and bustle of London to take trips to art galleries and museums.

Anita Leader, of Honeypot Lane, was joined by her husband, Sidney, who at first was a little reluctant to take part.

But he is now in his element during the public affairs and cryptic crossword sessions the couple attend, and looks forward to classes each week.

The 82-year-old said: “We love it - we wanted something interesting to do in our retirement and this is just terrific.

“It keeps our minds occupied. Just because we’re old, we’re still interested in things like public affairs.

“We’ve made friends here - it’s the most wonderful organisation.”

For more information or to join, phone Sidney Budd on 0208 958 8488 or e-mail

Letters can also be posted to 11 London House, Canons Corner, Edgware, HA8 8AX.

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