MEMBERS of the Kennet U3A (University of the Third Age) were treated to two engaging talks recently. Firstly, freelance travel writer and former Rough Guide editor Fran Sandham presented his audience with a visual programme based on the adventures of his solo trek he took across Africa.

Fran undertook to walk 3,500 miles across Africa, and spent a year to undertake this gruelling task, beginning at the Skeleton Coast in the west and finishing at the coast of the Indian Ocean in the east. From the purchase of an unco-operative donkey, which ultimately escaped and refused to return, to bouts of sickness, an encounter with a deadly puff adder and avoiding man-eating lions in a game park, Fran arrived at his destination 4.5 stone lighter than when he started.

The following day, Lisa Farrell, Mayor of Marlborough, detailed her current mayoral year’s calendar to the U3A’s monthly Coffee Exchange meeting in the Wesley Hall, Marlborough. Lisa expressed her interest in the U3A’s activities and purpose as well as taking questions from the audience ranging from tackling housing and activity shortages for young people in the town to traffic congestion and refuse collection. Lisa was supported by Roy Oakshott, who runs the U3A’s Jazz Appreciation Group and entertained the audience with some historic jazz recordings to entice further membership.

According to U3A chairman Graham Barnes, “It was quite evident from the comments that members have made to me since that they really appreciated Lisa Farrell’s visit and were impressed by her genuine wish to improve things for the community in Marlborough.

"One of our objectives in organising these meetings is to give our members a flavour of what is going on in the town and the problems that have to be dealt with. Lisa was able to give them a really good insight into the important issues, which is just what we were hoping for.”