Weekly Update 22 March 2021

Lockdown Quiz

The latest quiz from Julie Clarke (number 51) has been loaded to the website as well as the answers to number 50. Go to the quiz page where you’ll also find this week’s music quiz (number 50) and the answers to music quiz number 49. Our quiz page lists all the quizzes that have been set previously.

Group News

Getting to know you: the Sandbach & District u3a Committee –
Paula Reilly-Cooper, Programme Co-ordinator and Groups Co-ordinator

I’ve lived in Cheshire for most of my life, moving to Sandbach over 30 years ago.I worked as a Librarian in the public sector, firstly in West Sussex and then at various locations in Cheshire as a Children’s Librarian and then as a Library Manager.

In 1998 I went to work for Halton Council as Library Services Manager and had the privilege of establishing the service during its transition to a Unitary authority. I was fortunate to continue to work in a profession which I loved until I took early retirement in 2015 to become a full-time carer for my Mum.
I joined the u3a in 2016 and found myself becoming a member of the committee in 2017. I have been a member of various sub-committees and am currently Programmes Co-ordinator and Groups Co-ordinator.

As Programmes Co-ordinator I’m in touch with all the Group Leader’s and collate the “Programme of Activities” from the information they submit each year and provide details of group meeting dates to the Venue Co-ordinator to facilitate the venue bookings.

As Groups Co-ordinator, I act as a point of contact, coordinating and overseeing all the activity groups and supporting their Group Leaders as required. I also assist in the establishment of new groups, providing both support and training to new leaders.

I am a member of Pilates, Keep Fit, Tai Chi, Talking Travel, and Tap Dancing and have been very grateful for the opportunity during lockdown to join online Yoga and as well as continuing with online Pilates.

Outside of the u3a I enjoy touring, as pillion/navigator on the back of one of my husband’s numerous motorbikes or in our Mobile Home.

Coming out of lockdown

More good news! At our latest Committee meeting on 15th March, the Trustees confirmed our previous policy of restarting activity as soon as government regulations allow and Group Leaders/event co-ordinators and venues are ready. As with previous lockdowns, we know that many members are desperate to have face to face contact again, and increasing numbers of people are finding that social isolation is having a big effect on their mental and emotional health.

Restarting groups

Currently the regulations allow us to restart some groups from 29th March. Outdoor groups, such as Golf, Walking Football and Walking Cricket, will be the first to restart. Unless the regulations change, these will be followed in May by indoor exercise groups such as Circus Skills and Contemporary Dance, and then in June by some of the other indoor groups that continue to meet over the summer. Later in the year we expect the majority of our groups to restart and we can also begin the larger indoor gatherings, such as Members’ Meetings. Paula Reilly-Cooper is doing a terrific job in collecting the latest guidance from national sporting bodies and liaising with Group Leaders ready for the first groups to restart next week.

As before there are three Risk Assessments to be carried out before any group restarts:

    • The venue does a detailed Risk Assessment to make sure that it is Covid-secure.
    • The Group Leader does a detailed Risk Assessment, taking into account the nature of the premises and the nature of the activity.
    • Individual members of the group also carry out their own personal Risk Assessment.

Since the last lockdown the NHS has begun its vaccination programme, and vaccination rates in Cheshire are particularly high. Clearly this makes a difference to how Risk Assessments might be carried out, and for that reason the previous Risk Assessment form has been modified in two main ways.

    • The first difference is in the guidance to Group Leaders. Group Leaders are given clear guidance not to ask about the vaccination status of group members. Group Leaders will continue to employ the usual Covid precautions, at least for now.
    • The second difference is for individual members. Members are asked to consider not just their physical health but also their mental health and their vaccination status (and that of their household) in deciding whether to rejoin a group. Only you can make a decision about your own wellbeing.

Making your own personal Risk Assessment has become more complicated over the past few months. The vaccination programme is dramatically reducing the risk of people becoming infected and transmitting the virus. The risk of coming into contact with an infected person is now much lower than it was. Some people might still be infected so the sensible course of action is to continue to take the usual precautions for now. However, if you have been vaccinated and you do come into contact with an infected person, the risk of becoming seriously ill is dramatically reduced.

Informal coffee mornings

We do recognise how difficult these lockdowns have been, especially for people living on their own or without close family members living nearby. Levels of anxiety have increased a lot over the past year, over the past year especially for children, and for adults in our age range. This long period of avoiding contact with others has been a bit like house arrest for many people. Rejoining society and having social contacts with others won’t necessarily be easy, and it is important to take things slowly and gradually.

In order to support members in socialising again we intend to hold a series of informal drop in coffee mornings. These will be held at Sandbach Rugby Club on Bradwall Road, where there is a huge marquee and lots of outdoor seating. The start date will probably be Monday 17th May, depending on government regulations at that time. We hope to continue these throughout the summer. They will be carefully managed to minimise any risk. We hope that members who have been self-isolating will be able to come along and feel safe in what may be their first face to face contact with others for many months. More details, including dates, will be provided in future updates when plans are further on, but for the foreseeable future these informal coffee mornings will replace the larger scale Members’ Meetings. We also intend to hold the membership renewal events at Sandbach Rugby Club after the process was so successful last year. Dates for these will be announced shortly.

It may not be obvious right now, but we are living through an important moment in history. Fortunately, it looks like we are coming to the end of the first phase of the pandemic. After a dreadfully high death toll so far this third wave is largely under control. Case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid are all coming down significantly, and with luck the vaccination programme will prevent future waves of infection. The next phase for all of us is learning to live with Covid in the same way that we live with flu, which causes problems every winter. It is likely that booster vaccinations for Covid will be necessary on a regular basis, exactly as they are with flu. Vaccines will also be tweaked in the future to take new variants into account.

As usual, you can get updates about the vaccination programme from Cheshire East at https://healthwatchcheshireeast.org.uk/coronavirus/and https://healthwatchcheshireeast.org.uk/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations/

There is also a useful page of Frequently Asked Questions at https://www.cheshireccg.nhs.uk/help-us-help-you/frequently-asked-questions-covid-19-vaccine/

Stay safe, and enjoy the rest of this week’s update.

Stuart Naylor, Chair Sandbach and District u3a

Local News


Have you signed up for our next concert?

We are delighted to have Meera Maharaj and Dominic Degavino perform a Flute and Piano Recital for our next concert on Wednesday 31st March. We’ll also have performances by talented local young musicians and we’ll be catching up with a local music educator for our interval feature.

If you haven’t already signed up, please do so now to reserve your place at the concert which will be broadcast live and is not available on social media. The concerts are free but information about making a donation will be given on the night. Details about the concert can be found at our website.

Best wishes

from everyone at

Sandbach Concert Series https://www.sandbach-concert-series.co.uk/

Vaccination Update from Sandbach GPS

We have now invited everyone* over 50 to one of our local clinics. (*We actually have 186 50-54 year olds without a mobile number that we are trying to get hold of in other ways and if you are one of these ring your practice if you want us to jab you.)  If you haven’t heard from us (via SMS message) and are over 50 please ring!

If you have a SMS invite from us and haven’t replied please either book a slot with us or if you have had it else where are going else where or dont want it – please use the decline.

If you have previously been offered a jab and declined and have now changed your mind and now want a jab – ring! We have plenty to give.

Next week we are starting to give our second doses to our original cohort!

On a Lighter Note

  • An officer pulled over a man and walked up to his window. “How long have you been driving without a brake light?” asked the policeman. The driver jumped out, ran to the rear of his car and gave a long, painful groan. He seemed so upset that the cop was moved to ease up on him a bit .“Come on, now,” he said. “You don’t have to take it so hard. It isn’t that serious.” “It isn’t?” cried the motorist. “Then I suppose you know what happened to my boat and trailer?
  • One day during cooking class, the teacher, Mrs Jones, was telling all her secrets on how to prepare the perfect sauce. When she ordered the students to the stoves to prepare their assignments, she said: “Now don’t forget to use wooden spoons.” As one of the girls stirred her sauce, she contemplated the physics behind the mystery of the wooden spoon and decided it must have something to do with heat conduction. Eventually, she approached Mrs Jones to test her theory. “Why wooden spoons?” she asked. “Because, she replied, “if I have to sit here listening to all your metal spoons banging against metal pots, I’d go nuts!
  • A man owned a small farm in the country. The Council claimed he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent to interview him. You just give me a list of your employees and tell me how much you pay them.” “All right,” said the farmer. “I have a hired man. Been with me for three years. I pay him £700 a week, plus room and board. I have a cook. She’s been here six months. She gets £600 a week plus room and board.” “Anybody else?” asked the agent as he scribbled on a note pad. “Yeah,” the farmer said. “This guy is none too bright. Works about eighteen hours a day. I pay him ten pounds a week and give him a couple of pints of beer.” “Aha!” the agent roared. “I want to talk to that man!” “Speaking,” said the farmer.
  • A sailor meets a pirate in a bar, and the pair take turns boasting of their adventures on the high seas. The sailor notes that the pirate has a peg leg, a hook and an eye patch, and asks: “So, how did you end up with the peg leg?” The pirate replies: “We were in a storm at sea and I was swept overboard into a school of sharks. Just as my men were pulling me out a shark bit my leg off.” “Wow!” says the sailor. “What about your hook?” “Well,” replies the pirate, “while my men and I were plundering in the Middle East, I was caught stealing from a merchant and the punishment for theft in the Middle East is the loss of the hand that steals.” “Incredible!” remarks the sailor. “How did you get the eye patch?” “A seagull dropping fell into my eye,” replies the pirate. “You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?” the sailor asks incredulously. “Well,” says the pirate, “it was my first day with the hook.”
  • A man was driving down the road. He passed a traffic camera and saw it flash. Astounded he had been caught speeding when he was below the speed limit, he turned around and, going even slower, he passed the camera. Again he saw it flash. He couldn’t believe it! So he turned and, going at a snail’s pace, he passed the camera. Again he saw the camera flash. He guessed it must be faulty, so home he went. Four weeks later he received three traffic fines in the mail, all for not wearing a seat belt.
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