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u3a musicians hit the high notes

Ilkley & District u3a’s Summer Programme hit the high notes last Saturday when members were treated to a Summer Cracker Concert of music and fun. The concert, which played to a packed hall in the Clarke Foley Centre, doubled as a fund-raising event for Ukrainian refugees.

As the usual Christmas Cracker musical event had to be cancelled due to Covid, this concert was both a welcome addition to the u3a’s Summer programme and an opportunity for members of the music groups to showcase their talent. The entertainment started with a medley of summery singalong tunes followed by a programme including jazzy piano duets, some spirited ukelele playing and a hilarious skit on how not to make a summer trifle.

Prior to a collection for the Ukrainian refugees, the music was paused for a talk by Wendy McQuillan from ISSUE (Ilkley and Surrounds Support for Ukrainian Evacuees). Wendy explained that money was needed to help pay for the Ukrainian families to improve their English skills and buy necessities like shoes and clothes for the children. She was accompanied by Katya, one of the refugees from Irpin, close to Kiev, who thanked Britain for all it is doing to help Ukraine win the war.

Then twelve members of the Singing for Pleasure group sang a Ukrainian Prayer, composed by John Rutter. Brian Mason, the Choir master, had to get special permission for this to be performed. It moved the audience so much that over £300 was subsequently raised in the collection.

During the interval the audience enjoyed refreshments of non-alcoholic fruit punch and strawberries and cream served by Bonnie Fourie’s u3a catering team. The concert was rounded off with a final performance by the Singing for Pleasure group.

Angie Grain, chair of Ilkley & District u3a, paid tribute to those members taking part, saying, “All the performers did really well and demonstrated how U3A folk can pull their act together, often with very limited numbers from normal group attendances.”

The u3a welcomes all those in the area who are retired or semi-retired, and puts an emphasis on having fun, learning and making friends. New members joining now pay only £15 until renewal in August 2023. Find out more by coming along to one of the Drop-in sessions on the first and third Friday mornings of the month in the Clarke Foley Centre, Ilkley, or look us up online at, on Twitter and Facebook.


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