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Monthly Meetings

We meet at 2 pm on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Congregational Church, Kilwardby St, Ashby.
There is normally a guest speaker or, in December, musical entertainment.
This is followed by tea, coffee and biscuits and a chance to meet and talk with other members.

We remind you that we cannot guarantee that all members or other participants at u3a meetings or gatherings will have been vaccinated nor that they are virus-free and that it is up to individuals to decide whether or not they are comfortable with the risks of mixing in groups when the virus is still very much at large.

Future programme
DateSpecial EventsSpeakerSubject

Tue 23rd JulVince EagerOne of our early pop stars and "You're never to old to Rock n Roll"
Tue 27th AugOur AGM and Cream TeaNo speaker-
Tue 24th SepAndrew Barson Ashby Local Area Coordinator

Tea Rota and Reporting Groups

MonthTea RotaReporting Groups
Tue 23rd JulDavid & Lilian Spiers, Ann & Mike BennettSupper Club and Walking
Tue 27th AugCream tea served by the committeeWine Appreciation
Tue 24th SepJoyce Ottey, Sam Bradford, Ann BottomleyArts & Crafts and Breakfast
Tue 22nd OctAnn & Sid ClarkBridge and Calligraphy
Tue 26th NovJenny & Pete SlawsonCalligraphy 2 and Coffee & Chat
Tue 17th DecMince pies served by the committeeNo group reports

25th June. - We had two speakers this month - Martin Cooper and Carl Benfield

First was Martin Cooper of Castle Medical PPG

Martin Cooper is chair of the Patient Participation Group (PPG) at Castle Medical Group.

He started by first of all wearing his hat as an Air Ambulance volunteer community speaker, he reminded us of the shop in Market Street and also the one in Swad which had been open for 12 years that very day and has raised over £1m for the charity in that time. An amazing amount.

He then went on to tell us about how the GP services are organised in the area. Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland is overseen by just one medical board covering 1.1m patients and so Ashby sitting right on the edge of the area tends to get overlooked despite the fact that CMG as the only surgery in the area have 19094 people registered with them.

With the expansion of Money Hill expected to create another 2000 houses, that will bring approx 6000 more patients! There is talk of another surgery opening on the money hill site but if it happens at all it won't be for some time.

Martin then explained you used to be able to phone the surgery and ask to see your GP that day, and why it doesn’t happen any more. With the huge increase in patients this just isn’t possible. The receptionists have to ask you questions as to why you want/need to see someone. This isn’t being nosey, they are conducting phone triage, which is to determine who it would be best for you to see. There are many different types of medics on site: GPs, registrar doctors, practise nurses, nurses, paramedics, healthcare assistants, pharmacists and phlebotomists. They all have different skills and seeing one of them can free up a doctor to see a more urgent or difficult case.

Martin then went on to explain the role of PPG, which is to ask the doctors and staff directly the sort of questions that patients would like to ask. They also volunteer for things like helping to direct people for mass Covid and flu injections. They have also raised £15k for a blood pressure machine in the waiting area and a machine which helps store blood samples overnight allowing those samples to be taken in the afternoon after the collection van has been for the day.

Anyone who is a registered patient at Castle Medical can join PPG and help this worthwhile charitable organisation to help CMG to get better than ever.

Secondly local Councillor Carl Benfield talked about the Ivanhoe Line and the latest situation.

Carl Benfield is a town councillor and a candidate for the then forthcoming election. He quickly made it clear that he realised that u3a is a non-political organisation and he would do his best to keep politics out of what might well be a political decision!

Carl has been campaigning for many years along with others for the reinstatement of the Ivanhoe Railway Line. Previous attempts to restore it failed in 1990 and 2012 but now circumstances have changed with the A511 getting ever busier and the population in the catchment area growing rapidly such that reopening the line makes better economic sense.

Carl started by giving us a little of the history of the Ivanhoe Line. The track runs from Burton to Leicester via Gresley, Ashby and Coalville. It was closed to passenger traffic as part of the Beeching cuts in 1964, but freight services continue to this day for Bardon Quarries to export stone and gravel from Coalville. The section of the track in S Leicester joining the main line into Leicester Station has been taken up and built over.

Following on from the previous tries, a third attempt to reopen the line was started in 2018 by Geoff Bushell with the Campaign to Reopen the Ivanhoe Line (CRIL). This was, and is, more successful and in 2019 it raised £50k in council donations. In 2020 the Government introduced Restore your Railway, an initiative to reopen local lines to take traffic off congested roads. Unfortunately that same year Geoff Bushell died from Covid, a great blow to the campaign.

In 2022 an outline business case was agreed and the Department for Transport agreed to fund a Network Rail investigation.

Carl pointed out that Swadlincote and Coalville are the 2nd and 4th largest towns in the UK without a railway connection and the population in the area is growing all the time, leading to even more congestion on roads, particularly the A511 which the Ivanhoe line runs parallel to for most of the way.

The plans have been cut back somewhat, with the line now expected to run initially from Coalville to Burton with new stations at Coalville, Ashby and Gresley, with 3 car trains running hourly. The intention is still to work towards extending the service to a new station at Leicester South adjacent to the King Power stadium and other sports facilities and integration with park and ride bus services into the city.

The final business case should be ready by the end of 2026 and then work could start! This is will then depend on the political will to bring it about. We shall have to wait and see.

With fascinating talks by two very different but equally passionate advocates for different local services, we all had a very entertaining and educational afternoon.