History of PROBUS (Cont'd)


PROBUS clubs spring from two main roots. The Campus Club of Welwyn Garden City was founded by Rotarian Fred Carnhill of the Rotary Club of Welwyn Garden City, UK in 1965. In his own words “I used to meet a few retired men for morning coffee, composed mostly of ex-commuters with professional and business backgrounds and a wealth of experience behind them. Conversation was always brisk and entertaining. One was an architect responsible for many public buildings over the country, another an ex-town treasurer, an ex-newspaper editor, and an ex-secretary to a Prime Minister. I was the only Rotarian in this group and the thought occurred to me what admirable Rotarians all of them would have been. Moreover, in Welwyn Garden City there was a whole host of similar chaps. This gave me an idea. Why can’t we get together in a club? I telephoned 33 friends that night and they all said “Put me down, Fred”.

President Harold Blanchard of the nearby Rotary Club of Caterham, responding to what the Rotary Club of Welwyn Garden City had done, formed the first PROBUS club; the Probus Club of Caterham in 1966. The Secretariat of Rotary International - Britain and Ireland say
“these clubs, first founded in 1965 and 1966, have been adopted countrywide since then”.

Because there is no central body, it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of PROBUS clubs in existence. From the sale of Probus lapel badges by the PROBUS Information Centre in the United Kingdom, it is estimated that there are now more than 700 clubs in Great Britain, Ireland and the Channel Isles. There are others in West Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Malta, Belgium, South Africa, Canada and of course, Australia and New Zealand. In total it is estimated that there are well over 1,500 clubs around the world sponsored by Rotary clubs. Rotary District 110, which extends from the Cotswolds in England to Monmouth in Wales,
with 43 Rotary clubs, has 67 PROBUS clubs.

In the South Pacific, the first PROBUS club was formed at Kapti Coast - Paraparaumu (north of Wellington in New Zealand) in 1974. It was established with six members and now has 159. The first PROBUS club in Australia was established at Hunters Hill, NSW in 1976 sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hunters Hill and formed with the guidance of Past President, Peter Fermann and the help of the Rotary Club of Dumbarton, Scotland and Helensburg (UK) PROBUS Club constitution. It commenced with 11 members.
The current membership is now 82. From 1980 to 1986, PROBUS took an astonishing leap forward. At December 30, 1987 a total of 660 clubs had been established covering all of the states of Australia and both islands of New Zealand, as a result of the initiatives of the PROBUS Information Centre - South Pacific. Rotary District 968 with 49 Rotary clubs now has 32 PROBUS clubs.

In Canada, the Rotary Club of Galt in District 709 established the PROBUS Club of Cambridge, Canada on March 17, 1987. The initial meeting was attended by 52 members, the second by 89 and the third meeting drew 100 members.

Almost all existing clubs are growing steadily in size as retired and semi-retired men, invited to join, recognize the value of participation and observe the enthusiasm of existing members. Many clubs doubled, trebled and quadrupled their membership within a few years of establishment. Members of existing PROBUS clubs are enthusiastic
about club activities and the way in which membership is enriching their lives.

While there is no central controlling organization and the PROBUS clubs have indicated that they do not wish to have one, it became obvious that there was need for some centre to which and from which information could flow
concerning the existence of PROBUS clubs around the world.

In 1979, at the request of a number of PROBUS clubs, the Rotary Club of Bromsgrove (Worcestershire, England) volunteered to set up and operate a PROBUS Information Centre. Similarly, because of the rapid growth of clubs in Australia and New Zealand, the PROBUS Information Centre - South Pacific was established in February 1981. PROBUS Centre-Canada operates from Alliston, ON.

PROBUS Information Centres are intended to promote the development of PROBUS including:
The publication of Press articles and the production of the “How to Form A PROBUS Club” manual and as an aid to Rotary clubs,
Production and distribution of a PROBUS club directory,
Publication of a PROBUS newsletter,
Arranging PROBUS club supplies.
It must be remembered that PROBUS Information Centres are service centres only - not controlling bodies

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