Fun For Seniors


Wendy kindly agreed to start a second Yoga group to accommodate members on the long waiting list.



The U3A cycle trip to Scotland got off to a shaky start when Paul went to the wrong terminal and arrived at the Cairnryan one with only seconds to spare. Having been allowed onto the ship he then discovered he had left his phone, money and cards in the car and had to be accompanied back through security (something unheard of in the annals of the Stena Line).

So we set off into the hills behind Stranraer under the expert leadership of Mike Taggart and just when we had given up hope of ever finding a café or even a shop we found a tiny village store whose owner turned out to be the granddaughter of a famous Linfield footballer. She welcomed us into the ‘bothy’ at the back of the shop and made us tea and coffee. Brian found some dog biscuits for sustenance.

We travelled on through the mercifully rain free hills, pausing to provide first aid to Nora after an unfortunate and rather painful accident, and eventually arrived in the rather sad, rundown town of Stranraer where we settled into the warm and cosy Marine Hotel.

Our esteemed leader had not only done his homework on the travel bookings and route planning. He also managed to find us the best restaurant in Stranraer where we had a great evening of good food and songs along with a little taste of beer and wine and an awards ceremony organised by Heather and Betty.

Amazingly, at Heather’s suggestion, we retired to bed relatively early (i.e. before midnight).
After a good night’s sleep we tucked into a hearty Scottish breakfast which included ‘tatty scones’, a close relative of our own potato bread, and set off on a windy morning to the beautiful little seaside town of Portpatrick, where we crammed into a small coffee shop to fortify ourselves for the return journey over the hills to Stranraer.

From there it was a relatively short cycle around the head of Loch Ryan to catch the boat back to Belfast. Mercifully, the rain managed to hold off and the wind dropped to give us the proverbial ‘millpond’ crossing. great trip in which we all supported each other and especially to Mike for all his hard work in organising and leading the excursion.


Fun for Seniors – July 2017





The following report, written by Linda Stewart, appeared in the Belfast Telegraph  on 11th July.  Mary is a member of Upper Bann U3A.


A Northern Ireland woman who devoted years to helping vulnerable people has been recognised with a national honour.

Former teacher Mary Taggart (66), from Portadown, has been presented with a British Citizen Award for her services to the community.

The awards recognise everyday people whose achievements may be overlooked.

Mary was one of 30 medallists who were honoured at a prestigious ceremony at the Palace of Westminster in London.

She said: “I was humbled and honoured to find out about the award and also very surprised. Everyone I support is so appreciative of the time I give them.

“To be honest, it’s a privilege to be able to walk alongside those who are upset, grieving or frightened and offer support.

“Just being there can sometimes bring hope when all seems hopeless.”

For the past 19 years Mary has been a volunteer with Cruse Bereavement Care, helping those affected by the loss of a loved one and offering face-to-face support.

She currently specialises in supporting grieving children and young people.

Mary also volunteers in the Get Together – Bereaved Families Discovering’ Project. This is a partnership between Cruse Bereavement Care and Corrymeela Community, supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

Mary has also recently trained to become a prison support volunteer and has been a Samaritan volunteer for 15 years. She voluntarily teaches English as an additional language two days a week to migrant workers and newcomers from different countries, and helps the NSPCC on their young witness service.

The mother-of-six is a eucharistic minister in her parish and brings communion to those in nursing homes.

Also for many years, Mary, with the help of her former pupils and staff, organised the distribution of Christmas hampers to needy families in her area.

She has also fundraised on an annual basis for good causes, such as sending aid to Romanian orphanages.

Mary was the local co-ordinator for Project Children – a voluntary organisation that helped change the lives of many children in Northern Ireland from both sides of the sectarian divide by taking them out of conflict areas and sending them on a six-week holiday to America.

Mary added: “No one knows when they will need the help of an organisation such as the Samaritans or Cruse, so my volunteering is just my way of giving something back and time is something that I can give.”


Today the group took the train to Newry (Paul and Brian cycled the towpath) and then Mike took us through some charming back roads of Co Down on the way back to Poyntzpass for lunch. No rain yet! (Report and picture Paul Burrows)

Fun for Seniors – June 2017


🎶Didn’t we have a lovely day the day we went to Bangor🎶

Nine of us gathered at Portadown and Lurgan stations for a Day trip to Bangor Castle Gardens!  No driving, no stress, and very economical!! Lunch and tea not obligatory but enjoyed with enthusiasm.  Just sheer comfort and friendly chat, or dreaming, as we took our journey.

The Gardens as usual were beautiful, showing plants of the season at their best. Those of us who garden were inspired and others appreciated the tranquility and peace that is always found in such surroundings. The perfume within the garden was intoxicating and memorable.

Placed around the garden were various forms of garden art exhibited by local artists, all of which were for sale.  The greenhouse had an amazing apricot tree just loaded with apricots but the sign said “Do not touch” So tempting though!

After lunch we decided It was a little chilly for a stroll in the town  so decided to take the train to Hollywood for a cup of tea.  It was so nice as all of us were in unison on this decision.

As you can see we had to prise Ruth away from a handsome chap but she said she would prefer someone a little taller!

Thank you Pat for another enjoyable day.


The Tuesday Strollers enjoying coffee and cake after their walk round Lurgan Park



Fun for Seniors – May 2017


The Nature Group’s first May trip was a re-visit to the beautiful National Trust garden at Rowallane. A small group of five enjoyed the breathtaking displays of Azaleas and Rhododendrons, the revamped rock garden where a tiny but bold goldcrest delighted us as it rummaged for insects to take back to its nest, while the walled garden was amazing with its huge variety of unusual plants. Our day was rounded off with a tasty lunch in the cafeteria.


Our second trip of the month was also a return visit – this time to the magical Rathlin Island. The weather was perfect, the sea was calm for the short crossing and the Puffin bus met us off the ferry to take all ten of us to the Seabird Centre at the west lighthouse. Everyone’s favourite seabird – the puffin – was on view through telescopes provided by the RSPB. All around was a hive of noisy activity with thousands of guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars nesting precariously on the stacks and cliff face. Back down at sea level we took advantage of the sunshine to picnic on the grassy bank overlooking the huge seal colony. Shore birds flitted about searching for invertebrates deposited by the tide, while eider-duck bobbed about in the water just off shore. All too soon it was time to catch the ferry back to Ballycastle.

Surprise for strollers in Spring! (Teresa Corr)


Craigavon Lakes were looking at their loveliest as our strollers set off last week in the May sunshine. Pausing mid-way for our weekly sweet treats, courtesy, as always, of Pamela & Hector, we spotted a range of beautiful butterflies flitting through the grasses, we were serenaded by our favourite native birds vying to out sing each other and we discovered a fascinating range of newly born wildlife on the lakeside. Like us, you may well ask which species of duck is in our picture……so enjoy Pat Flowerday’s smiling clarification :”That duck is a goose!” Some ‘Grey Lag’ Geese arrived one winter, apparently loved our area, set up home and and have become illegal immigrants!


Small select band under the expert leadership of David Thornton. Gary managed to fall off within thirty seconds but after that we had a great cycle through local beauty spots such as Laurelvale and Ahorey and saw plenty of apple blossom and fields of yellow oilseed rape. Finished with delicious coffee (most) and lunch (Paul) in the Stonebridge.


Mike asks for direction, a rare event!  Bikers take shelter with good company.


Fun for Seniors – April 2017

Bridge Group

The Friday morning Bridge club, held in Portadown Golf Club on Friday mornings at 10.00 am, continues to thrive.


Nature Group on the move!




Fun for Seniors – March 2017



Seven members of Upper Bann U3A travelled to the Westport Hotel Co Mayo for a week of bridge.
The weather was beautiful, prompting us to play truant from the morning lessons provided by Seamus Dowling who is currently the Bridge Correspondent for the Irish Times.

We visited the scenic Achill Island, Leenanne and Kylemore Abbey by day and played Bridge by night.
The standard of Bridge was high. Congratulations to Pat Flowerday and Janet Wright who impressively came second on two evenings.Thanks is due to Frances Wilson who organised the trip.




Yoga was introduced as an activity in September 2016. The first twenty to apply were allocated places and a long waiting list was drawn up. Unsuccessful attempts were made to find a second convenor. Until such times as another convenor is found, Wendy volunteered to take a Breathe and Relax session after the Monthly Get-together.
A large number of members expressed an interest in these sessions, and the first took place on Tuesday 21 March, in Lurgan Town Hall.
Everyone is welcome to join in future sessions; there is no limit on numbers and no need for special clothing, although it’s better not to wear anything too tight around the waist. We will be doing gentle seated stretches and practising breathing techniques for relaxation – nothing too serious or complicated.
So if you normally attend the monthly Get Together why not stay on and give Breathe and Relax a try? Or if you haven’t been to a Monthly Get Together yet, you could come along and listen to the guest speaker and join in the Breathe and Relax session afterwards.
If you can’t attend all sessions it doesn’t matter as each session is standalone – just come along whenever you are free.

iPad Clinic


Interested Upper Bann U3A members were recently invited to avail of 45 minute of training. In all, 23 arrived at Bleary Business and Community centre, armed with iPads and a list of their difficulties and all left happier and better informed thanks again to 02.

The following report is by Diana Caesar

Monday 20th of March was certainly a day to note for the Upper Bann U3A, when members arrived at Bleary Community Centre with iPads in hand to pick the brains of Leanne and Josh from the O2 shops in Banbridge and Craigavon. These two young people gave their day to patiently and expertly running a workshop on iPads!   

Without exception everyone seemed to benefit.  The 45 minute sessions for groups of 3 people certainly sorted out many problems for us all! We certainly felt that we had made progress having created ‘Photo Albums’ and designed posters in ‘Pages’! No excuses for my husband now not to write letters.  

Our thanks also to Frances McKeown who not only organised the event, but also kept us to time. This report has been written on my IPad and sent by email.  Not bad for a 73 year old novice iPad user!

Other Comments

“The best 45 minutes I’ve spent with a young man in ages!!

We quickly established a good rapport. I was able to easily understand Josh’s instructions as we worked through my query list. Going forward I feel more confident in using my iPad more productively.

I found Josh very helpful and professional and I certainly benefitted from the advice.  It was very good of he and Leanne to come along and help the less knowledgable. 

Thank you again for organising such a good session with Leanne and Josh. As always Leanne was her usual helpful self, So we came away with all our questions answered and hopefully we will be able to continue using our knowledge. 

For more comments click and go to Fun For Seniors

Further IT Training

To date the bulk of the training has focused on Apple iPad users. If you are experiencing problems with your non-apple device and if there is sufficient interest in android training then Leanne and Josh will, yet again, help out.

Interested members please or text 07715046187.


(Report by Pat Flowerday, Photograph by Paul Burrows)
This bevy of beauties plus Paul Burrows braved the icy elements for their nature walk along the Lagan Towpath from Moira train station to the Broadwater. They were rewarded with seeing around 20 species of birds, many wild flowers and fresh new buds and catkins making their first appearance. Isn’t early Spring wonderful!


This week Mike took his Bikers, a group of approximately twelve men and women, through country lanes to Maghery and from there to the Cohannon Inn for lunch.
They returned via Peatlands and altogether cycled about 34 miles. Paul Burrows commented “It was a great cycle. We got to see a lot of places we’ve never seen before!”

Fun for Seniors – February 2017


The first Wednesday of the New Year saw the Nature Group rambling leisurely in Lurgan Park. Apologies to those who didn’t receive the email publicising this event. This was entirely due to the right button not being hit on the new system! The day was mild and dry although there had been heavy overnight rain which had brought lots of worms and other invertebrates to the surface of the soil. The birds took full advantage of an easy feast especially moorhens which are more likely to be seen in shallow water. On the water, we found two pairs of shoveller as well as the more common mallards, coots and swans. The star bird of the day was our country’s smallest , called “king of the birds” in European folklore, the goldcrest.    

Our second outing was to Portmore Lough, a wonderful peaceful place, best known in the bird world for its thriving colonies of Tree Sparrows and Irish Hares (you need to up really early to see the latter). En route, we stopped to admire a large flock of Whooper swans grazing in a field and one lucky member of the group spotted a kingfisher dart from a ditch and speed off across the field. At Portmore, there was a constant flow of small birds – chaffinches, house sparrows, tree sparrows, blue, great and coal tits – to the many feeders around the reserve.  Looking down from the viewpoint, 13 Konik ponies were being herded to another part of the reserve. Much to our amusement, the wilful lead pony, who obviously didn’t want to be moved, turned the whole herd back again time and time again.

Show over, we transferred to the comparative comfort of the waterside hide, where hundreds of pochards, tufted ducks, wigeons, grebes, cormorants, whooper and mute swans challenged our ID skills – poor light making it more difficult. Finally the idea of a warming cup of coffee drew us back to the car park for the homeward journey. Another good day in tranquil surroundings and congenial company.

The next outing is scheduled for Wednesday 8 February to the People’s Park in Portadown where we will meet at 10.00 in the car park on Park Road.




Fun for Seniors – January 2017


On Tuesday 17th January,  Strollers congregated  at Dungannon Park car park before embarking on their stroll around the very picturesque grounds.

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Gordon suggested replacing the Christmas Dinner with a January lunch.  What a good idea!  Fifty six members enjoyed a game of bridge before participating in a very tasty buffet lunch in Portadown Golf Club on Friday 13th.  This is an appropriate time to say a big ‘Thank You’ to Gordon for acting as convenor to this very successful group, to Tom Young whose tuition and enthusiasm has enabled so many members to get a lot of enjoyment, fun and (of course) knowledge from his lessons.  We cannot overlook Maureen who is always working quietly in the background.  Thank you Maureen, thank you all!!!!

The following photographs have been supplied by Diane Caesar.

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Some members enjoyed a rather excellent lunch in Wynn’s hotel prior to the play in the Abbey Theatre – Anna Karenina.  The production was very good and was enjoyed by all.  A very successful theatre outing for 34 members of our U3A group.


More than eighty members attended this month’s Get-Together and there was good reason for the huge attendance.  The Watercolour Group, with Anne McMinn as group convenor, agreed to exhibit the fruits of their hard work.  There was evidence of a huge amount of talent in the U3A.  Well done to all involved!

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Despite the fact that there is not yet an official drama group, a number of members of Upper Bann U3A came together to prepare hilarious sketches which provided great entertainment for the largest group ever to attend one of our monthly Get-Togethers.  It was a fun afternoon and members left the Town Hall congratulating all involved with the drama  production and the exhibition.  Thank you one and all for providing us with such an entertaining afternoon.


Fun for Seniors – December 2016




Pat Reavey presents a bouquet of flowers to Singalong group convenor Diane Hillis.