When Bev Ponder’s neighbour took her along to the University of the Third Age for a Mahjong class, little did she know that nine years later she’d be the one up the front teaching cards.
Every Wednesday from 9.30am till half past noon you’ll find Bev Ponder teaching a Canasta class for the University of the Third Age at the Australian German Club in Aitkenvale.
“It keeps me on my toes,” says 70-year-old Bev, who declares that joining U3A was the best thing she ever did.
“I joined in 2008 when a neighbour took me along to their Mahjong class. I enjoyed it so much I wanted more, so I joined the Canasta class, the beading group and the book club,” Bev says. “Then we got a social group going because we found a lot of us were sitting around watching TV on weekends twiddling our thumbs.”
The social group collects pamphlets from places such as the Civic Theatre and Riverway to see what’s happening. A few members will go off to a festival while others might go to see a play by The Townsville Little Theatre or form a car pool to go and watch the ballet.
As for the Canasta, Bev says it “gives your brain a workout” and some take it so seriously they’re frightened to throw out the wrong card.
“I love them to pieces,” Bev says. “We have a very nice diverse group of people. They all poke fun at each other and have a good time but, believe me, if anything goes wrong they’ll all put their hand up and help you. They’ve been wonderful to me.”
Bev changes up the type of Canasta the group plays every month, with four or five versions of varying degrees of difficulty on the go. “We even have a semi-invented one that’s pretty tough. Smaller groups have splintered off from our Wednesday class to play it on other days of the week,” Bev says. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of steering people in the right direction and seeing them have a good time.”
Bev also leads a beading class at U3A from winter to Christmas – a pastime she got hooked on when she went to an RSL ladies craft day with her sister-in-law.
“She was interested in the embroidery and I wandered around and had a look at all the other things people were doing,” Bev says. “One lady was sewing little beads onto covers for Christmas ornaments and I was hooked. I got so enthusiastic I even got my sister-in-law to come and join in and the next thing I know we were scouring shops for lovely beads.”
Now Bev passes on what she’s learned at U3A with beginners starting with beaded Christmas ornaments and moving on to trickier projects when they’re ready. When she’s not teaching, Bev is also known to play matchmaker. “One of our romances is off to a great start and I was very proud that I introduced them,” Bev says. “Now I’ve got others asking me to play Cupid for them too!”
University of the Third Age Townsville
Telephone 4724 3530