PROBUS. WHAT IS IT?
A Probus club is a local association of retired and semi-retired professional and business people, and others who have had some measure of responsibility in any field of worthy endeavour, who are of character and respected in their communities. Clubs meet regularly for fellowship and an extension of their interests.
Probus is not a “senior citizens” or “lonely hearts” club.
The name is an amalgam of the abbreviation of the words professional and business. Probus is also a Latin word meaning honest or virtuous, from which the English word “probity” is derived.
Each Probus club is autonomous. There is no central organisation and each club sets its own rules. Probus magazine, published quarterly, is the only national publication enabling clubs to communicate, share experiences and ask for or impart advice.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The Probus Club movement was formed in the United Kingdom in 1965. The Probus movement had its beginnings in two clubs, both created by members of Rotary. In 1965, Fred Carnill, a member of the Welwyn Garden City Rotary Club, met with other retired friends for morning coffee – mostly ex-commuters to London – with professional and business backgrounds. From this he started a club in April 1965. The Rotary Club president arranged the first luncheon meeting in May 1965 and about 38 men attended. This club was known as ‘The Campus Club’, the name deriving from the fact that the meeting place was facing the centre of town called ‘The Campus’.
The Rotary District took up the scheme with the result that Rotary International, Britain and Ireland published a leaflet about the idea to encourage other Rotary Clubs to sponsor a similar club.
The Probus club was conceived by three businessmen travelling to London by train. The three, James Raper, Harold Blanchard and another, as yet unknown, were reaching the point of retirement and realised they had a need for fellowship. Thus in the same time period, September 1965, Harold Blanchard, the chairman of Caterham Rotary Club Vocational Service Committee, by now retired from business, presented the idea to the Rotary Club.
The members of the Rotary Club Vocational Service Committee decided to organise a monthly lunch. In February 1966, a meeting was advertised for all retired professional and businessmen aged 60 and over. 42 men turned up. A monthly lunch was arranged, at which the Rotary Club President took the chair until the club had formed its own rules and committee. The inaugural luncheon of the first Probus Club in the United Kingdom (by that name) was on March 2, 1966.
In May 1966 a committee was formed with Harold Blanchard as chairman, who is seen as one of the ‘father figures’ of Probus along with James Raper. The name “Probus” was suggested by a member who took the first three letters from ‘PROfessional and BUSiness’. It had the advantage that it was a Latin word from which ‘Probity’ was derived. The Probus Club of Caterham was met with success, and became known among other Rotary Clubs with new clubs being founded.
In 1974, Probus expanded into New Zealand and by 1976 the idea had spread to Australia. The first Probus club for seniors in North America was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Galt in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada in 1987.
Although Probus membership has its greatest concentrations in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, clubs today exist in all parts of the world, including the US, Belgium, India, South Africa and several other countries in Africa and Asia.