President’s Annual Report


(Covering the period from 24th May 2012 to today, 10th May 2013)

The purpose of this, my second (and last) Annual Report, is to record the achievements and noteworthy events of our Association since the previous Report of May last year. When I started to draft this Report I thought that it would be much shorter than last year’s, as we could not hope to record as many as the fifteen or so different developments, changes and enhancements achieved during the previous twelve months.

However, whilst there have not been as many individual items, there are still a number of matters which have arisen and are set out as follows:-

A. The Membership

1. Membership Numbers

This time last year we had doubled our membership from 55 to 110 members. We now have a current total of 138. A number of members joined in 2012, but not all renew this year, however 17 new members have joined since the 1st of January and I understand a few more are in the process of joining very shortly.

2. Lady Members

You may also be interested to note that just over 60% of our members are ladies. This makes me wonder how many men were “encouraged” to join by their better halves?

3. Full Time in Spain Members

You will no doubt remember that we conducted a survey in September last year to ascertain how many of our members live here in Spain all year round. It was with some trepidation that I asked the question, as the membership in the past have not shown much enthusiasm in responding to surveys, so it was with a great sense of relief that I found that about two thirds of them had in fact responded! The result was that, of those that did take the time and trouble to reply, only about one third were here less than nine months of the year.

4. Areas most populated by Members

We call ourselves the U3A El Morche Association because it all started here in El Morche, just down the road and most of the founding committee lived here or hereabouts. However, if the criteria for the name of our Association is where most of our members live, then we should be called the “U3A Torrox”, as about a third live in the Torrox area, on the Costa or in and around the Pueblo.

B. Groups

1. Current Groups

Until earlier this year, we had 17 groups on our list, but we currently have 15 ongoing group activities operating.

2. Lost Groups

It is sad to admit that some group activities are less popular than others and have been put into abeyance from time to time, but you can’t please everyone all of the time. We have now lost Table Tennis due to lack of support and Oil Painting has also been removed from our list of Groups, but this was the Group Leader’s choice. So remember, use them or lose them!

3. New Group

I am however pleased to report that we had a new group start towards the end of last year, namely the Art Appreciation Group, which now has a thriving number of members.

C. Enhancements

We only have one item this year under this category. I get many enquires over the year from prospective new members asking about our Association. They come through our “Contact Us” link on our Web site. As you no doubt know, our Web site includes instructions on how to join in the “Home” page, however, for some reason, certain proposed new members miss these instructions and ask me “how do we join?” For this reason I have added (with the help of our Web Master) a new “How to Join” tab to our Web site, which repeats the instructions set out in the “Home” page. Hopefully, this will be easily seen by any proposed new member and therefore cut out the extra work involved for the President.

D. Changes

1. Membership Renewal Fees

Whilst the new joining fee of 8€ plus the 12€ membership fee for the whole twelve months remains the same, we have managed to reduce the membership renewal fee at the beginning of this year from 12€ per annum to the current 6€ per annum, which (as mentioned above) resulted in only a small group of members deciding not to renew. This reduction has been achieved due to good house keeping.

2. New Renewal Forms and New Member Forms

We now have two separate membership forms. The first is a form designed for new members to complete and covers their membership for the remaining months of our membership year. The other is the Existing Member Renewal Form which covers the whole of our membership year namely on and from the 1st January and up to and including the 31st December. These and previous forms clearly state the duration of the membership year and they record the member’s commitment just for those twelve months and no longer, so it is necessary to complete a renewal form each year for administrative purposes. Therefore when I was confronted with the expression of “whatever!”, from a member when this was explain to them, I considered this a less than “helpful” comment.

3. “Learning Co-operative

As it is explained in the “Home” page of our Web site, we have adopted the UK’s U3A associations’ guidelines and principles in the organisation, format and progression of our U3A. The UK version is described as a “Learning Co-operative” and we originally adopted that title too. However, certain third party and conversational feed backs revealed that some prospective new members were discouraged from joining because they incorrectly assumed that there was a greater academic element to our Association. As I mentioned in my first Annual Report, I (ironically) had not heard of the U3A organisation when I joined, but research of this in the UK made me believe that it was tailored mainly to retired middle class professionals. Our version of the U3A reflects the unique circumstances of life on the Costa del Sol and that it is really more of a social club than a pure academic organisation and so references to “Learning Co-operative” have been removed from our Web site and future publicity will not included this title. We do however make references to the acquiring of “knowledge” and “skills”.

4. Change of President

There are ten Committee member posts and eight committee members, with two of us covering two posts. The tenure for these posts is one year each, from AGM to the next AGM (although it seems longer). As I mentioned in the introduction of this Report, this is my last one, as I have decided to stand down at this AGM and make way for ……..well, I would like to say, younger blood, but that would be inaccurate, but what he lacks in youth, he more than makes up for in experience. There are other changes in the Committee and the details of these are dealt with under the heading of item 6 of our Agenda.

E. Developments

1. Review of Membership Fees

As mentioned above, we managed to reduced the renewal fee by half as we have a healthy balance in the bank due to expenses being kept to a minimum. Indeed, although some other U3A association committee members charge fuel costs for meetings etc. as expenses (which they are entitled to do), we do not, but we do share the cost of refreshments at meetings such as this one, which I am sure you will all appreciate. The Membership Fees will no doubt be looked at again in September in time for the renewals in the following January.

2. Our U3A and UK Members

Occasionally we have visitors who are members of the UK U3A. I believe that as the UK U3As are all affiliated to each other, they can participate in each others’ group meetings without incurring any additional fees. However, as we are not actually affiliated to them, we cannot really offer this concession to UK members and so they will have to join our Association if they wish to participate in our activities.

3. Renewal Fees Time Limit

Our Constitution requires that the renewal fees be paid up within two months of their due date. As our membership year is 1st January to 31st December, this means renewal fees must be paid by the end of February in each year. We have in the past allowed a concession to those members who do not live in Spain all the year round, by extending the time limit by a few months with the view that they will return to Spain to pay up by then, but only if they promised to do so before the end of February. It is felt that those members who do not live here full time, will know in advance where they will be at the relevant times and so can make provision accordingly. Therefore the concession will not be repeated next year. Instead, all members will be sent a copy of the renewal form at the beginning of each September for them to complete and submit for renewal at our September meeting, but in any case before the end of the following February. There are in fact no outstanding renewals.

4. Our Constitution

Our Constitution was created during the first few months of 2011 and completed near the end of May of that year. It was devised in anticipation of the future of our Association, but without the benefit of experience of the actual developments and natural progression that has occurred over the last year or so. It is therefore time to revise our Constitution to reflect more accurately the actual day to day functions of our Association as they are now. This task I shall have to leave to the new President and the Committee.

In Conclusion

In the summing up of my last Report, I expressed my frustration at the lack of participation and apathy by certain members, so it was with great joy that I was confronted with replies to the “Living in Spain” Survey from about two thirds of the membership, whilst previous requests for involvement had resulted in only one third at the most of members responding.

As mentioned above, this will be my last Report. I have had the pleasure in presiding for two years as well as taking on the post of Group Liaison Manager for that period and in total serving on the Committee since January 2011. I will however remain the Quiz Group Leader. I have experienced some very interesting challenges, together with obstacles and complications to overcome and could not have really achieved these without the backing and help of the Committee members.

This Annual Report would not be complete without reminding the membership that we all take pleasure in the various activities on offer, only through the selfless hard work of the Committee and our Group Leaders and if it were not for them, we would not have our U3A El Morche Association to enjoy.

All organisations have a period of metamorphosis and evolution and with the changes that have occurred in the Committee, this is obviously now that time. So, all that is left for me to say is that I’d like to think that as I stand down from my posts, our Association is in a much better and prominent position than when I first held the post of President in May 2011 and I have all the Committee and the Group Leaders to thank for that; so thank you all again.

Roger Martinez

(Out Going President)

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