As people live longer and enjoy healthier lives well into old age the perception of a pensioner is changing with many new activities opening up to them.
One organisation which is at the forefront of this quiet revolution is the U3A, or University of the Third Age which seeks to bring those of retirement age together to enjoy a range of community based activities.
Across South Lanarkshire the Lanark and District U3A was established in 2011 and now has 183 members involved in around 25 different activities.
It is described as an organisation of retired and semi-retired but not retiring men and women who meet monthly on a Wednesday afternoon in Lanark Memorial Hall to be informed and entertained by speakers on a wide variety of topics.
With the aid of a committee and group co-ordinators the local U3A organise and run groups such as walking, languages, dancing, cookery, discussion, and theatre visits groups.
One of the very popular groups at the moment is a Circle Dancing group which is run independently of the U3A by dance teacher Joe Freemen.
Lorraine Swan, chairperson of Lanark and District U3A said: “The circle dancing is one of the more gentle forms of dancing and we find many of our members really love it. It is an ideal way for our members to move and have fun. The teacher Jo is wonderful. She is so enthusiastic.”
Jo who lives in Carluke and is secretary of Circle Dancing For All, which was set up in 2014 with Lottery funding, said circle dancing was a great way of getting to know people and get fit at the same time.
The sprightly 70-year-old, who has just become a new grandmother said: “We are looking to raise the profile of circle dancing in South and North Lanarkshire as well as across Glasgow.
“We have danced at the Kelvin Hall for the Common-wealth Games and at Stirling Castle as well as at Go Dance in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal.
“But this is only part of what the group do. We want people to come along and enjoy our classes whatever level they are at. At the moment we are on our summer break, but start back on September 1 and run fortnightly in Lanark Memorial Hall for 10am to noon.”
For those who can’t wait until September they will have the opportunity to get involved the 2nd Annual World Circle Dance which takes place on Sunday July 16 with circle dancers from the Lanark U3A joining circle dancers from around Scotland and Northeast England in this annual event which is being held in the Newmains Community Centre.
Jo explained: “Circle Dancing for All are co-ordinating the day which will run from 12 to 5pm, with a variety of dances being included. This is a worldwide event and we have been busy practising a Brazilian dance called Namarie, the video of this can be found on our Facebook page of Circle Dancing for All.
“This is only the second year the event has been running. In 2016 Circle dancers in South America got together to create an Annual Circle Dancing event in which groups from around the world all danced the same dance then sent in a video of themselves that was then edited together to form a collage which can be viewed on You Tube. Circle Dancing for All participated in a small way and are included in the video. There were 100 groups in total from around the Globe.”
Jo is urging as many people as possible to come along and take part in the event which is being run totally independently from U3A activities.
Joe said: “Circle Dancing is open to all, everyone is welcome to come along, But I would ask people to contact me so I know how many to expect. No experience is needed and you don’t need to bring a partner or any special clothing. So if you would like to find out more about this style of dance come along on July 16 to join in the fun with very accessible dances.”
The is no charge for the event but donations are invited for Circle Dancing For All funds. To contact Jo either email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or text her on 07980050456.
For more information on joining the U3A go to their website at www.u3a-lanark.xyz.
There is an annual member-ship fee, currently £15, which pays for monthly meetings and other expenses. Members receive the U3A magazine, five times a year, which can be delivered free to their homes.
Interest groups are run by members for members on an actual cost basis - there is no extra charge for joining a group and you can join as many as you like. U3A also encourages members to set up groups that interest them.