To view/download the WORD  Review of the O&A  Summer Programme (2002-2018) click HERE

Review of the O&A Summer Programme (2002 -2018)

First of all I want to thank Kevin and Phil Paulden for stepping into the breach last year and putting together a programme for the summer. Though numbers at the courses/classes arranged to take place at the Chapel were, on the whole, small – and in one or two cases the class didn’t materialize - nonetheless two useful links were made for possible future O&A classes, which I shall be following up very soon. Financially, the overall gain from the Programme was 231 pounds, thanks mainly to Karla’s coach trip, Chris Makepeace’s Local History day and Alan Sennett’s Film afternoon – and we thank those three tutors for their continuing contributions over the years; this amount was down on 2017, because in that year the final buffet, unfortunately, had to be cancelled and so 100 pounds did not have to be paid out. We are able to donate 150 pounds each to the O&A account and the Union Chapel funds, leaving us a balance in our separate Summer Programme account of 273 pounds 66p.

However, our Admin Team has taken the decision that there will be no formal O&A Summer Programme in 2019; perhaps, in that form, it has run its course. Over the last two years, following the ‘retirement’ of two key persons, it has proved difficult to find people with the time and willingness to commit to the initial work and to the input involved over the summer, because, of course, after the Programme is drawn up and produced for publicity in early June, it doesn’t then run itself! – at least, not the sort of programme envisaged and realized, over many years, by a succession of dedicated and committed volunteers. Speaking of ‘envisaged’ – the vision for the Programme – I’d like to read an extract from what we wrote to the tutors last term when we told them of our decision:

‘For over 15 years now a Summer Programme has been produced, independently of the O&A Admin Team, as such, though under the auspices of O&A. The idea originally, at the suggestion and, in fact, request of our students, was to provide a continuing opportunity for individuals to meet over the long summer period when normal classes have stopped. As the programme developed, other purposes became clear: to give people a chance to try a different subject that they might enjoy but don’t want to commit themselves to for a whole term; for a new tutor to ‘trial’ their course with potential future students: and, most importantly, so that students could come together outside the context of the classroom, socially, but always with a broadly educational element in mind, with friends and with O&A students they have not come across before. A small committee – 2-4 people, which always including an Admin Team member – coordinated this varied programme, arranged and produced publicity for it, and led, or took an active part in, some of the activities - coach trips, local outings, walks, painting trips, meetings in other venues than the Chapel, as well as ‘in house’ classes.’

As the Summer Programme, at this point, then, formally ends – I say ’formally’ because some of the regular contributors may want to continue to offer something over the summer (Karla, the independent German tutor and long-term friend of O&A is proposing a coach trip, this year to Trentham Gardens) – but, as the Programme, as such, ends. I would like to put on record our enormous thanks and appreciation, first of all, to the large number of students who have supported and participated in many of the programme events; also those who have volunteered to help in various ways, e.g. preparing buffets – we think of Freda, Sylvia, Hilary, Annie and many others - Irene delicately shredding and arranging decorative and delicious salads); secondly, to all the tutors (O&A and Independent) who regularly contributed – Karla Schwartzkopf, Chris Makepeace and Alan Sennett (already mentioned), Jenny Nuttall, John Fasnacht, Patricia Pay, Caroline Pont, Letitia Atwell, Chris Waters, Kevin Harrison, Margo Singer, Shabana Azim, Hannah Kidd, Maha Al-Khazragi, Brenda Howlett, Leonie Clements, Vered Hofton, Joan Hill and Steve O’Connor; thirdly and especially, to those volunteers who, right from the beginning, have made the Programme possible, with their hard work, their various gifts and their most generous use of time: to Irene Thomas and Jen Magson (the founders, who, among other things, ingeniously raised quite a large sum of money to fund the week-long Arts Festival that celebrated O&A’s tenth anniversary in 2001, after which Irene decided to use the money left over from the festival to kick start and maintain a Summer Programme of events (Irene retired only a couple of years ago.): to Nola Rushworth (student and friend of O&A); to Eric Bray and Kay Coupland (former Union Chapel Ministers-the latter a maker of beautiful scones, much appreciated by us all!); to my own fellow Summer Programme Committee members, Margo Singer, Margaret Harrop, Sue Jones and, of course again, Irene; and, finally (I have already thanked Kevin and Phil.), to Megan Bennet, who coordinated and herself took part in quite a varied programme in 2017.

I want to end this report by thanking, on behalf of all of us who have been involved in any way with the Programme, the members of Union Chapel, especially Eileen Land and Michael Welford, for all their support and actual help (Eileen’s constant encouragement and Michael’s patience in arranging room bookings spring to mind!) and to the Trustees and leaders of the Chapel, who have allowed us to use the building and all the chapel facilities, during the summer. Like O&A as a whole, we are grateful that your vision of the church’s purpose includes – even demands – such generosity and open-mindedness. We have benefitted; we hope you have no regrets!

So, here ends my report. Some of you may have looked at the table over there with many of the Summer Programmes and posters on it. I tried highlighting one or two of our outings – Erdigg ,that Welsh country house with its remarkable Servants’ Hall, Southwell with its Minster and the model workhouse just outside the town, Hall i’th’ Wood (and the excellent and generous young tour leader there), Blackwell House (Arts and Crafts) nr. Ullswater, Rufford Hall and the Brockholes Nature Reserve, Ashbourne, in its Georgian time warp, yet a lively town still, Fairfield, a Moravian settlement in Droylesden, Port Sunlight, Saltaire, Ordsall Hall, Middleton, rich in architecture, Lichfield, Liverpool, Smithills Hall (just last year)----I couldn’t stop; more and more of them kept coming into my mind, all wonderful experiences – and, of course, always good weather (do some of us remember Howarth?)!

P.S.I was talking to Jen Magson last week: she was sorry the Summer Programme was ending; I said to her “Perhaps some creative spark will have the idea of organizing another Arts Festival – or something even more creative – to celebrate O&A’s thirtieth anniversary in 2021! Do I wish I were 20 years younger? On the whole, I think not. But there may be someone out there-------!”

Judith Rack