Beaudesert U3A tutors and administrators meet for thank you meal at RSL Services Club

Voluntary tutors and organisers for Beaudesert University of the Third Age were treated to a two-course lunch at the RSL bistro on Friday, proving there is actually such a thing as a free lunch.

The event was a way to say thank you for the hours those in attendance put in to keep the organization running.

The lunch was also the setting for the announcement of U3A's Tutor of the Year award, which went to Liz Avery, organiser for the garden group BUGs (Beaudesert U3A Gardeners) and one of the largest groups, with regular monthly meetings and many excursions.

President Andy Fechner said the award also recognized Ms Avery's determination to take on a second role and keep the Nordic walking group operating during lockdown - with social distancing.

The annual free lunch looks set to become a tradition since its introduction by Andy Fechner three years ago when - in his fifth year as president - he cast around for a way to recognize the uncounted hours that key members devote to running U3A.

"Our tutors and organisers create a great opportunity for friendship, learning and interaction within the senior community in and around Beaudesert," he said.

"It wasn't just the tutors and facilitators, but the committee, which is one of the best I've come across in 50 years as a businessman," he said.

"Every single member has a skill to contribute and we all work together with plenty of laughs and virtually no disagreement."

Mr Fechner said he was proud of the fact that Beaudesert was almost alone among Queensland's U3A groups in continuing to operate during the COVID shutdown, and was pleased that Beaudesert had been recognized by the State U3A body as "a progressive and vibrant branch."

"We even gained a significant number of new members during that time," he said. "Our mantra was 'communication' and we did that through online courses, emails, phone calls and newsletters to keep members engaged," he said.

"However, it's great to see people now beginning to get out and about again and most of our regular groups are now operating again, under Covid-19 restrictions."