Third Age

Lifelong learning is a concept we strive to imbed in our young people, but it is just as important in adults, and of great benefit as we age.

University of the Third Age (U3A) is a nation-wide group whose purpose is to encourage further learning, tap the reservoir of knowledge, skills and experience of retired men and women, and provide a venue for the meeting together of like-minded people to learn, contribute and make new friends in their local community.

U3A Cromwell last week hosted Joe Sherriff, a Central Otago man who embodies the values of a lifelong learner continually taking on new challenges. 

Joe created history as the first winner of the Coast-to-Coast 243km endurance race, winning in 14hr 42sec.  He has now competed in 11 Coast-to-Coasts.   

He is a cartographer and mountain track builder, an orienteer enthusiast and a mountain biker.

He and partner Jo Wilson have each been given a Local Hero award in Keep New Zealand Beautiful 2020. They spend much of their time volunteering for environmental projects.

However, Joe’s talk to the U3A group, entitled “The Sleep of Life” was not about these community activities – it was on his long career as an anaesthetist, starting as a medical student in Manchester, UK and finishing with a 25-year stint as a consultant in Invercargill.

Third Age

For many years he served on the NZ National Committee of the Australia-New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and was an expert advisor to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

Anaesthesia is a mystery to everyone who is on the receiving end.  

You get a small scratch from a needle then wake up with the operation all over.  

How does this happen?  

What goes on behind the scenes?

What does the anaesthetist do to ensure your safety?

The main message of Joe’s speech was that the process is so much safer than it has been in the past.

The U3A’s past thought-provoking topics have included Restorative Justice, the Norwegian Whalers Base, Artificial Intelligence, Child Poverty in New Zealand, Climate Change in Central Otago, Ethics, the History of Frontal Lobotomy and Freud for Everyday use.

Organiser Jean Cox says of Joe’s talk,

“We learned so much more about anaesthesia, and its history.  The whole thing was very re-assuring – statistically it is so safe these days.”

Jean is keen to encourage people to join U3A, saying,

“We have such a wonderful group of speakers.  It is not just for those with a university degree – it could more appropriately be called a learning group.”

If you would like further details of the U3A meetings, please phone Jean Cox on 03 445 3356.

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