Learn more about u3a

What is Ilkley & District u3a?

  • The chance to pursue hobbies, interests and discover new ones
  • Getting involved, staying active, having fun
  • Over 1600 members. More than 100 interest groups
  • A summer programme, study days and monthly talks

Ilkley & District u3a was founded in 1997 as part of a UK-wide movement. Our parent body is the Third Age Trust, a national charity. We are managed by a Committee of Trustees (select here for information and contact details).

Any queries please email

What is the cost of membership?

  • Costs are covered by an annual subscription (currently £15) payable on 1st August.
  • Our local u3a has no paid staff and is run for the benefit of members, by its members.
  • The subscription includes a fee (currently £4) paid to our parent body. This covers the cost of a quarterly magazine posted to your home address, plus items such as insurance cover for u3a events.
  • Attendance at talks, events and groups only incur charges to cover costs such as refreshments and venue hire.

Join an activity group

Our groups cater for a wide range of interests and ability levels. New ones are formed all the time and we are always keen to hear new ideas for groups. Join one group or many – it’s up to you although some popular groups have waiting lists.


Select these links for more information:


Select or click here to enquire about vacancies on a group before committing to membership or check the Group Description page using the buttons above.

Membership Eligibility

Many of our members, but by no means all, live in Ilkley, Otley & adjoining areas.  

Whilst there is no upper or lower age limit, a typical member is not in full time work. We are a volunteer-led charity, members being encouraged to help in any way they can.

We have reciprocal membership arrangements with 3 other local u3a groups.  Select here for more information.

The Ethos and Principles of u3a

The u3a movement is based on the principles of mutual aid. Ilkley & District u3a is a registered charity with no paid staff. As an Educational Co-operative there is an expectation that members will share their interests and skills.

Principles of the u3a Movement

The u3a Movement is non-religious and non-political and has three main principles:

The Third Age Principle

  • Membership of a u3a is open to all in their third age, which is defined not by a particular age, but by a period in life in which full-time employment has ceased.
  • Members promote the values of lifelong learning and the positive attributes of belonging to a u3a.
  • Members should do all they can to ensure that people wanting to join a u3a can do so.

The Self-help Learning Principle

  • Members form interest groups covering as wide a range of topics and activities as they desire; by the members, for the members.
  • No qualifications are sought or offered. Learning is for its own sake, with enjoyment being the prime motive, not qualifications or awards.
  • There is no distinction between the learners and the teachers; they are all u3a members.

The Mutual Aid Principle

  • Each u3a is a mutual aid organisation, operationally independent but a member of The Third Age Trust, which requires adherence to the guiding principles of the u3a movement.

  • No payments are made to members for services rendered to any u3a.

  • Each u3a is self-funded with membership subscriptions and costs kept as low as possible.

  • Outside financial assistance should only be sought if it does not imperil the integrity of the u3a movement.

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