AT the last monthly meeting of the Ballymena U3A the chairperson, Libby Henry presented Mrs Jennie Watt with a bouquet of flowers to mark her enrolment as the 200th member in the current year.
The Ballymena U3A (University of the Third Age) is in a period of growing popularity; membership numbers have increased by about 50% in the last five years.
The U3A enables people to make new friends and to remain physically and mentally active in their retirement.
The Ballymena Group meets at 11.00 am on the first Thursday of the month in the Ecos Innovation Centre in Ballymena when there is a guest speaker and at the meeting there is time for tea and coffee and a chat. New members are always welcome, anyone wishing to join can just turn up on the day.
There is also a range of activity groups, including Pilates, Tai Chi and Zumba for the more active and bowls for those wanting more leisurely exercise.
Members can develop their language skills by learning Irish, French or Spanish.
There is also a Bridge club and those who enjoy more cultural activities can join the book club or take part in outings to the theatre or cinema.
Social tastes are catered for in the lunch club and on annual organised holidays. There is a popular gardening club and occasional talks on topics such as astronomy, first aid, etc and if a member wants to set up a new activity group they are encouraged and helped to do so.
Members of the U3A do not get diplomas or certificates, what they do get is the opportunity to enhance and enrich their lives at a time when many find it difficult to make new friends or develop new interests.