Interest Groups

Banbury u3a Interest Groups

Our interest groups offer a programme of educational and leisure activities for retired people. Members contribute their own experience, interests and enthusiasms actively, so that they learn from each other. The interest groups are the lifeblood of Banbury u3a. Their common feature is that they are all requested by members, not prescribed from outside and we rely on members to contribute their own experience, interests and enthusiasms actively, so that they learn from each other. Educational qualifications are not required for admission and none are awarded. All you need is to be interested. Some groups have only 3 or 4 members, others a dozen or more. And if you have an interest that is not represented, you only have to ask around to find others who might share it, and that starts a new one.

We agree a topic/theme for the meeting and members bring examples of artists and works to talk about and discuss. We plan to include occasional visits to galleries and museums. Recent themes have included “winter” , “portraits” and “cartoons and caricatures”.

This group meets in the Waitrose Community Room on the first Friday of each month from 2 – 4pm.  Please contact Ellie if you would like to join

We read one book a month delivered to us in multiple copies by Oxfordshire Libraries Reading Group. The month’s selection is chosen by a librarian from a wish list compiled by our group members. This list is flexible and we often make additions. A member volunteers to give a fairly brief review at the next meeting and then other members share their own ideas and feelings about the chosen book. Over the years (since 2001) our choice has been quite varied. Originally the group attempted to read Booker Prize nominations but this has broadened out to include some classics and a wide range of older and more recent works including, And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, A State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

Friendly rubber bridge: we don’t do formal teaching but try to learn from each other. All levels of bridge player welcome, you don’t need to come with a partner. Table money is £3 – £4 [depending on numbers] – includes tea/coffee and biscuits. 9.30-12.00. The venue is St Hugh’s Church Hall, Ruskin Road, Banbury OX16 9HU

Weekly, at The Light Cinema on Thursdays.  Silver Screen concession for over 60s on any film starting before 3pm. Up to 2 hours free parking when parking ticket validated inside the cinema.

Our aim is to enjoy the beauty of the local countryside by walking along it’s many public footpaths with like-minded members. 
Walks take place on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month throughout the year, starting at 10am.  Members of the Group – who feel confident doing so – take it in turn to lead walks.  We meet at a prearranged location within approximately half an hour’s drive from Banbury.  The  walks will usually be between 4–5 miles and a risk assessment with all details is circulated in advance. Members are asked to let the walk leader know for each walk that they are coming.  Lifts are encouraged and arranged between individual members.

The walks take place whatever the weather and any member who changes their mind about attending should inform the walk leader in advance of the start time.  A specific wet weather walk may be substituted for the scheduled walk.  Informal meetings to plan six months of walks take place in December and June. 

Members need to be reasonably fit and able to climb stiles and manage inclines. We keep up a steady [age-related!] pace with a drink stop.  Members should have appropriate footwear and clothing for walking and the weather conditions, and be prepared to encounter mud for most months of the year.  If there is a convenient venue we may stop for coffee or lunch at the finish.  New members are very welcome.  If you would like to join the group or would like more information, please email the group convenor:

COFFEE HOUSE DISCUSSION GROUP – changes to venue and timings. The group has successfully met ‘live’ twice during September, and are making changes going forward.
Meetings will be at 10.30 am until about 12.00 at The Mill Arts Centre, on the FIRST and THIRD Wednesdays of each month, starting on Weds Oct 6th. This is to avoid the days on which the main U3A Longford Park meetings take place.
Starting topic for Oct 6th- though we often meander onto other interesting subject matter – we are
revisiting ‘Climate Change’. Anyone new wanting to attend would be welcome. No fee, you just buy your
own coffee/tea/etc. Brian Johnston (Acting Convener). The meeting lasts about 1 hour 30 minutes but members come and leave at their choice. It is a very friendly group and members are encouraged to suggest a topic that is of personal interest if they wish. We would be very pleased to welcome new members to try us out.

The Craft Group meets twice a month on different days of the week.

We are a sociable group who meet twice a month, usually at the leader’s home, where we either work on our own projects or share skills and ideas. So far these skills have included various types of embroidery, patchwork, Deco-patch, crochet, knitting and rag rug making. We all enjoy learning new things.

The group is involved in writing stories or essays each month from a suggested title by a group member. We have also been experimenting with writing at the group meeting, which has proved popular, and produces
some interesting results. We will continue to change the format as we progress and it would be true to say that we are a participatory group with the group leader only really co-ordinating meetings and ensuring that meetings run smoothly.

We meet at 10am on the 4th Monday of the month.

This group meets monthly at Longford Park Community Centre. It brings together members with a variety of expertise and interests in researching their family history in order to swap experiences and ideas. There is a cost of £1 per person per month. This includes refreshments during the meeting.

Family History Files to Download

Legacy This file gives ideas on the potential content if you are going to write your life story.

Users of Microsoft Excel may find these templates useful:

  • Simple horizontal family tree. This file provides boxes to plot a person’s ancestors back to great-grandparents.
  • Simple vertical family tree. This file provides boxes to plot a person’s ancestors back to great-great-grandparents. It also includes cells which can provide the building blocks for customised family trees.
  • Age of ancestors. This file has 3 rows of examples that contain a function for calculating the ages of ancestors for a given year in the past. By listing the names, dates of birth and dates of death of ancestors and copying the function into the appropriate cells, ancestors ages are returned (to within a year). People still alive need to be listed as 3000 for date of death for the function to work. The years listed in row 1 can be changed and the formula will respond accordingly.
  • How Many ancestors. This file calculate how many ancestors you would have if you go back a number of generations

After a meeting on LEGACY, which discussed what people who like to leave to future generations,a Blank Life Book was produced into which a person or couple could enter full details of their current position including personal, contact, financial information and preferences after death. To prevent sensitive information getting into the wrong hands, it is recommended that a completed life book file should be password protected.

This new group has focus on cooking. Members share their expertise on a variety of styles of cooking using the facilities of a large kitchen

We meet each week in order to speak and try to improve our spoken French as well as to enjoy each other’s company. The first half of the session is some activity devised by the host of the day – a game, discussion or exercise in grammar. After coffee, we listen to a CD, in conjunction with a French journal consisting of articles, short stories, crosswords etc. We also visit Chipping Norton Theatre when there is a good French film to see.

This small group meets in each other’s homes on a weekly basis to have French conversation. We usually relate our past week’s activities or sometimes choose a topic to discuss. We read a magazine, La Vie Outré Manche, and quite often this provokes discussion. Occasionally we give ourselves set scenarios, such as shopping, preparing for a walk or having guests to stay, which will stimulate the use of everyday or even colloquial French. We have a maximum of 10, which we find a manageable size to allow everyone to speak.

We are a loose association of members who meet as regularly as their other commitments permit in order to hone their French conversational skills. It is not a ‘class’ and there are no ‘lessons’ but we can use a French language magazine and from time to time attempt some of its grammatical exercises. Otherwise we converse on activities undertaken, current affairs etc. and listen to the CD associated with the magazine, read and translate the text.

This is a group of enthusiasts who want either to resurrect school French, or try French out for the first time. We use two textbooks, Voila, a course in French for adult beginners, and Living French, both of which aim to immerse the student progressively in the language – so far, the group is in up to its ears! (par-dessus la tête). We aim to go ever further, of course!
Both books are designed to be largely self-teaching, so “classes” and “lessons” are not the order of the day, although of course, revision and independent guidance are always necessary. It’s quite hard, but enjoyable work, and it gets the brain-box ticking over nicely!

This is a small group of varying abilities but all with the aim of improving his/her French. We meet in each other’s homes and pursue a variety of topics using spoken French, reading and translating, with some interesting points of grammar and the occasional quiz, all in a light-hearted way to ensure that it is enjoyable as well as informative.

This is a small lively group which looks at varying aspects of German Language, life and culture. Use is made of newspapers, magazines and other texts to practise and enhance language skills, and members are encouraged to make contributions based on their recent travels, personal experiences and interests. The proceedings are conducted as far as possible in German, and it is therefore not at present possible to accommodate beginners in the language.

The group started over 12 years ago. We have tried themes over the years but more recently have left it to members to produce a piece on a topic that interests them and talk on it for a while, then the rest of the group join in. This is a very simple idea but it seems to have worked well. We also occasionally invite specialists to talk about different subjects. Our talks have included: Battle of Cable Street, Schooling in the 19th Century, Spanish Civil War, Life in 1000AD, Trench warfare in WW1, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – a broad sweep of history, New members are invited as guests who can come and see what they think of our activities. We have acquired some very interesting speakers this way.

Programme for 21-22


We simply chat in Italian, read, listen to and translate Italian work. This always involves a cup of coffee and fun.

Mahjong group now meets 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month at members homes.  Beginners are welcome – we will teach you how to play.
Starting time is 2:30pm

This is a discussion and help group where members show how they have solved a. problem.
We include all gauges and welcome queries on all subjects to do with Model Railways.
It is planed to visit exhibitions and layouts within the area.

The group meets monthly on the third Wednesday at 2pm. It does not matter how ‘musical’ members are, everyone can listen carefully, thoughtfully and without distraction on their own terms. We have varied, enjoyable and educational listening experiences, usually within or just outside the range of musical tastes within the group. A theme, chosen in a previous meeting, provides basis for the music that some of the members bring for us to listen to, on CD, MP3, DVD or through the internet. A brief introduction is often provided for each piece of music and a short discussion often follows. ALL music is valid listening for these groups.

The group meets monthly on the third Thursday at 2pm. It does not matter how ‘musical’ members are, everyone can listen carefully, thoughtfully and without distraction on their own terms. We have varied, enjoyable and educational listening experiences, usually within or just outside the range of musical tastes within the group. A theme, chosen in a previous meeting, provides basis for the music that some of the members bring for us to listen to, on CD, MP3, DVD or through the internet. A brief introduction is often provided for each piece of music and a short discussion often follows. ALL music is valid listening for these groups.

Formed in January 2010 our group comprises up to ten members who meet monthly in each others’ homes. Our modus operandi is to follow books on philosophy to prompt our thinking and discussion with our latest one (2021) being Philosophy Bites Back by David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton. This consists of chapters on famous philosophers and their theories discussed by a leading expert. At each meeting one of the group leads the discussion on a chapter they have chosen. Sometimes we deviate from the book and one of us leads us in a philosophical consideration of a topic of current interest. You don’t have to have studied philosophy but we try to follow the philosophical method of questioning everything with an open mind.

Formed at the end of 2013, this group meets once a month. Members have a wide range of skills and expertise from novices through to highly accomplished photographers. During the first half of the session there is a presentation on a previously known subject by one of our members.  After tea and biscuits (or even home made cakes!) we review, in a non-critical way, previously submitted photographs usually based on themes.  Our aim is to increase our knowledge of photography and make the very best use of our cameras through sharing our knowledge and learning from each other. We have also visited local areas of interest.  We meet at Bodicote Church House at present so we are not restricted by numbers and we welcome new members. There is a charge of £2 per session to cover the hire of the hall..

  We are a small and friendly group (7 people maximum) mainly because of the fact we meet in our members’ homes. We read a variety of plays and some of us even attempt American accents if the part requires it. Members take it in turns to cast the play. We do discuss particularly interesting texts over tea and biscuits although we occasionally stray on to other topics. We source texts inexpensively from Oxford Library and try to select as wide a range of material as possible. We have read some of Athur Miller’s plays as well as those of Neil Simon, so both tragedy and comedy are covered. Costs are low and are shared among the group members.”

We choose 4/5 poems to read out at the meeting, taking it in turns to read our chosen poem, and then briefly discuss it. Maybe that particular poem has a significant meaning for someone or it is by their favourite poet. It is a very relaxed and enjoyable afternoon. The group is currently full at 7 so it would be a good idea for someone who was willing to start another group.

meeting on the third Friday of the month at 10.30am in members homes.

We are a play reading group, currently working our way through The Tempest.  The parts are shared round, and although none of us claims acting ability, we enjoy getting to know the words of the greatest writer in the English language.

We walk between 2 & 3 miles on footpaths and fields around Banbury. We tackle the occasional stile. When the fields are too wet, we find an alternative ‘hard surface’ route. Members are beginning to volunteer to share the planning and leading of the walks but no one will be forced! We may start doing some walks which involve returning by bus, so bus passes may be needed.

We are lucky to have a native Spaniard who helps us a lot with Spanish conversation. We do a bit of grammar, reading, translating and speaking.

The group aims to help members gain fluency in speaking Spanish and to improve their listening skills. It is suitable for those who already have a reasonable grasp of Spanish grammar and vocabulary. We try to speak only in Spanish during our meetings (although we sometimes fail). Conversations are wide-ranging and informal and have recently covered, for example, Spanish history, art and politics, as well as other topics of general interest. Members have recently attended live performances of flamenco and other aspects of Spanish culture. Several members visit Spain regularly and one also regularly visits Mexico.

This is a fairly informal group with players of varying abilities. The more able ones advise and support those of us with weaker skills but we mix together in both singles and doubles games. We are limited to only one table, at Amos Court, but new members are very welcome. £1 pp covers room hire and refreshments.

Meeting monthly on the third Tuesday of the month at 2.30.  Venue: Longford Park Community Centre. Members help each other understand and use modern technology and deal with practical problems.  Also discuss the wider issues such as the development of AI.

All newcomers are welcome and don’t worry if you haven’t got a Ukulele as there will be spares at the practice for you to use. We meet at Glebefields Care Home in Drayton. Thursday afternoons, on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursday of the month.