A BRAND new bench has been installed in Thornbury to commemorate the 20th anniversary of a community group continuing education for retired and semi-retired people.

Thornbury U3A, which has more than 1,800 members in and around the town, ranging from in their 50s to in their 90s, partaking in more almost 90 interest groups, is celebrating the landmark year, having been established in 1998.

Standing for ‘The University of the Third Age’, the group works with retired and semi-retired people to develop new skills, explore new horizons and meet new people in a friends and informal environment.

On Wednesday, July 18, Anne and Phil Holland two of the original members of the organisation unveiled the bench, made by The Hatch in Thornbury, which will offer a place to sit by the bus stop at the junction of Gloucester Road and Severn View Road.

“It was a proud moment to be able to unveil the bench,” said U3A chairman Alison Makepeace.

“It is something that everyone can benefit from, whether it is the general public waiting at the bus stop or it is U3A members waiting for buses to go on their visits.

“We aim to give people the chance to come together and keep their minds and bodies active, keep their interests alive and meet new people.

“It is important to Thornbury because it offers an alternative in retirement, rather than go into hibernation, especially with other things being cut that people would normally go on to.

“For me personally, it is nice to meet with people who perhaps, as I have lived in Thornbury for well over 40 years, I met whilst bringing up my children, who have since retired.

“To be able to do something for them to enable everyone to continue to do what they want to do through the different groups makes me proud, but at the same time very humble because there are some amazing people in the U3A who have done so much for it.”

As well as the unveiling of the bench, U3A have a range of things to celebrate the anniversary, including plans to produce a map of all the footpaths around Thornbury that are walked by their members.

A big picnic is also taking place this Saturday at the Chantry, with Sally Challoner from BBC Points West having the honours of cutting the birthday cake.

For more information on Thornbury U3A, visit thornburyu3a.org.uk.