Anniversary of The Probus Club of Purley - An Appreciation
Thirty golden years have passed since the November day in
1984 when an inaugural meeting held in Purley resulted in the
formation of a local Probus Club.
Following the example set by the long established Caterham
Probus Club, the aim of the founding members was to establish a
regular meeting point for retired business and professional men,
particularly those who, in their retirement, would appreciate
increased social contacts and the opportunity to meet others in
similar circumstances. In this they have splendidly succeeded and
the Club prospers to this very day!
Of the first three dozen or so interested parties who made
up the original Club, only one survives - the first Chairman, the
redoubtable Ken Bromley, who, though now in his mid 'nineties',
still manages occasionally to attend the monthly Club Luncheon!
The Club has been fortunate over the years in having a long
succession of competent and enthusiastic Chairmen, admirably
supported year on year by an equally devoted and able Committee.
Over the past thirty years there has been a monthly luncheon at
the excellent Purley Sports Club - only once has the Luncheon been
cancelled (and that on account of bad weather).
A varied and interesting programme of social events has been
organised each year and, on the whole, has been well supported by
the membership. In the 1980's , the membership of the Club was
fixed at 70 (not including Honorary Members). Presently there are
52 regular members. Our monthly luncheons continue to be well
supported, as are our Ladies' Lunches - and members' guests are
The monthly luncheons are invariably lively affairs with a
constant buzz of conversation and laughter, and enlivened by a
well organised and selected programme of 'after lunch' speakers -
on a multitude of interesting topics.
The Club remains what it has always been - a gathering of
retired professional and business men, loyal to a well established
and well regarded local organisation - evidenced by the cheerful
photograph of the current committee taken at the recent 30th
Committee Members (left to right): Peter Holmes, Alan Smith, Russell Pullen (Chairman), Alan Jessop, Andy Hudson, Alex Winkley, Owen Kelly and Paul Allard.
“Fill every glass - for
wine it inspires us and fires us
mirth and joy…..”
John Gay’s cheerful sentiments
were not greatly in evidence as a party of ten followed Alex.
Winkley to Denbies’ Vineyard on November 22nd.
It was poor support for our Social Secretary whose
arrangements for the outing were, as always, quite excellent.
Denbies’ - England’s
largest vineyard, is situated deep in the Surrey countryside
adjacent to Box Hill, but whilst it has undeniable charm on a sunny
Spring or Summer morning, its attractions are somewhat muffled on a
gray, rain -threatened day on the edge of winter!
Endless lines of close pruned
vineyards stretch in all directions drearily unidentifiable and
bearing no hint of the glorious vintages which will spring from the
deep-delved earth in the fullness of the year!
This was the Club’s second
visit to Denbies’ where, with increasing capital investment, the
management appears to have wrought a considerable change to the
prevailing atmosphere; there was a much more professional (and
commercial) feel to the entire operation. It is worth while
recalling, for example that one of Denbies’ sparkling wines has,
in international marketing competition, been very favourably
compared with champagne.
Our tour began with a panoramic
colour film of the vineyard’s complete year of operation from
the autumn pruning of the vines to the rich harvest of late summer.
An indoor electric railway then took us on a tour of the quite
remarkable industrial installation which produces, annually, some
thirty thousand bottles of wine.
There followed a ‘tasting’
of three of the company’s premium vintages - a rather low-key ceremonial in somehow
unsuitable surroundings! Then unescorted visits to the inevitable
retail shop and the pottery prefaced a warm lunch.
Our afternoon was taken up with
a visit to Denbies’ latest project - ’The Surrey Hills Brewery’
Occupying a corner of the
vineyard complex this highly modern and efficient brewing installation is producing
four quite excellent beers in considerable quantities which are
delivered weekly to public houses and other licenced outlets. To
those who in years gone by have cheerily toiled within acres of
mid-Victorian brickwork, the modern brewery appears as a miracle of stainless
steel (sadly no copper work).
The beers, however, are worth noting-
1. Ranmore. 2. Shere Drop.
3. Albery Ruby and 4.Greensand IPA. The young brewer
who spoke to us at length, was
optimism personified, as, of course, all brewers must be!!
We returned to Purley- without
any wine - by way of Box Hill.
At the Club Lunch in October, our Chairman, Owen Kelly, presented
Mr. Keith Sims with the first of the Club 's Certificate of Honorary
Membership. Until ill- health caused him to resign, Keith had been a
most active and popular member of Probus for sixteen years. During
that time he successfully nominated a record number of new members - to
the Club's lasting benefit.
Although now confined to a wheel chair, Keith, accompanied by his
wife, Christine, and Comfort, his devoted carer, was able to take lunch
with us. A number of guests came to support Keith, including several
widows of deceased members, who, of course, were doubly welcome!
The new Certificate of Honorary Membership was designed and produced
by Mr. John Miller, a friend of the Club; he and his wife, Lesley, were
our guests on this most happy and cheerful occasion.
Our 26th Ladies' Lunch was celebrated on Thursday, 26th January, 2012,
at 'The Chateau' Restaurant and was attended by a respectable total of
sixty comprising Club Members, their Wives and friends together with
widows of former members. Also present - as guests of the Club - were
Mr and Mrs John Miller. For many years past John (Jock) Miller has
designed and printed (gratis) many excellent menu cards and invitations
for Club events and his cheerful presence added to the general air of
enjoyment which permeated this annual event!!
This was the third Club Function to have taken place in recent years at
'The Chateau'. With Paul Allard in the Chair, the Luncheon proceeded in
an absolute gale of conversation and laughter. As is always the case
at 'The Chateau', the food and service were of a high standard, as were
the various contributions commencing with Grace spoken by Angela
Winkley. To Paul's speech of welcome to the guests, Jennifer Older made
a charming and much appreciated response.
Conforming with the Probus habit, we also had a speaker at this function
- in the person of Mr Jeremy Keen who is Manager of 'The Chateau' where
he has worked since it became a restaurant in 1978. From his
considerable knowledge of its history, Mr Keen gave us a fascinating
account of the building since it was erected in 1895 - as the country
residence of a Mr Lloyd (of Lloyd's Park). When it was finally
converted to a first class restaurant it was called 'Le Chateau
Napoleon'. It was not made entirely clear as to why it has been
deprived of its regal nomenclature!
It remained for Owen Kelly to propose our valedictory Toast - 'Probus in Purley' and bring this delightful function to a close.
Sincere thanks are due to Alex Winkley for the hard work which made our
latest Ladies' Lunch such a happy and successful occasion!
On 24th November, Alex Winkley led a party of some forty two Members and
Guests to take lunch at 'The Chef' which, for the unitiated, is the
name of the public restaurant which plays a very important role in the
training of students at Croydon Catering College. The location of this
quite surprisingly good facility is somewaht obscure and involves
entering through the rather forbidding main doors. For two of the
Club's widows who regularly patronise Alex's outings, thge geography was
all too overwhelming - to the extent that they returned to their home
and telephoned Alex for details as to how they were to obtain admission
to 'The Chef'. A few words with the maestro and they were soon on the
right tack and dead heated with the dessert - to their great delight.
For the remaining members of the expedition, the standard of food and
service offered was quite excellent. For a little over £10 a three
course lunch selected from a varied and tempting menu was available;
service was prompt and courteous, and there were no embarrassing
delays. The level of conversation and and laughter testified to the
merits of a most pleasant experience.
Winkley scores again - next gastronomic event - The Ladies Lunch in January 2012 - at Le Chateau!
The visit to Bletchley Park on Monday 3rd of October 2011 was an unqualified success. The whole operation went without a hitch from start to finish and reflected the greatest credit on Alex Winkley whose organisation was, as always, impeccable. The outing was blessed also by the beautiful autumn weather which raised everyones' spirits and guaranteed their enjoyment.
Bletchley Park was, of course, the centre of allied code-breaking activities during the Second World War. The acquisition of the German Enigma machine, allied to staff of outstanding brilliance gave us almost unlimited access to the secret codes and messages of the Axis powers and probably shortened the war by some two years.
Arriving at Bletchley, we enjoyed coffee and biscuits after our ninety minute journey. Our Tour Guide was Mr Nick Hill who had worked at Bletchley and was steeped in its history and achievements. He was the perfect guide - well informed, humorous and very good and interesting speaker - he was also Chairman of the Probus Club of Dunstable, this distinction giving him an added status. His short, but fascinating account of the history of Bletchley Park got our tour off to an excellent start.
Our visit was divided into two sections each lasting one and a half hours. Before lunch we visited the primitive war-time buildings where so much highly secret work was carried out. In addition to code breaking,we were told, there was a brisk trade carried on in the breeding of carrier pigeons used to carry messages to and from agents with the French Resistance. More than 200,000 birds were hatched, trained and despatched from this idyllic location!
After a basic but thoroughly enjoyable lunch we visited the remainder of the installation and saw the incredibly complex machines which were developed at Bletchley during and after the war, and, in themselves projected some of the enormous changes to the world in which we live.
After tea we returned to our coach and the seemingly interminable journey via the M25 to Purley. A thoroughly worth while and happy day, ended in a golden sunset. What a pity that only some 21 persons took part in this excellent function.
Members will, no doubt, recall that last year we formally
celebrated St George's Day with an excellent lunch at Epsom
Race Course. This year we forsook the evocative
surroundings of 'The Rubbing House Restaurant' to celebrate
our Patron Saint's Day at the 'Château Napoleon' in Coombe
lane, Croydon. One important factor common to both years
was the singular and somewhat un-English weather! One again
we we were blessed by a perfect Spring day of sunshine and
blue skies; extravagant blossom and trees in full leaf added
to the pleasure of the occasion which brought some thirty
six members and their guests to the Château.
The arrangements for lunch could hardly have been bettered!
Alex Winkley and Harold Brown are to be congratulated on the
excellent planning which contributed so much to the the
success of the occasion and the atmosphere of friendship and
pleasure that prevailed throughout!
The luncheon itself was very good and well served and the
proceeding culminated with some amusing banter from John
Miller and a speech of praise of our Saint from Harold Brown
who was really the moving spirit of the entire function.
Red roses were presented to each of the ladies present - a
finishing touch which was greatly appreciated.
One minor matter - Harold's disclosure that it might just
have been a crocodile and not a dragon which the Saint
slaughtered was not received with undiluted approval! But
what matter? It was a delightful way to pass Easter
Today, Thursday, 11th November, marks the 25th celebration of The Ladies' Luncheon, the first of
which took place on Thursday, 17th October, 1985 at The Arnhem Gallery, Croydon,
when 92 members and their guests attended. The menu was very simple - Soup,
Roast Lamb, Fruit Salad and coffee; tickets cost £7, and drinks at the table
(including wine) were supplied with the compliments of the Club. Guests
included The Mayor and Mayoress of Croydon; Mr and Mrs John Zinn represented the
Rotary Club of Purley, and Mr and Mrs Smith represented the Probus Club of
Sanderstead. Ken Bromley took the Chair and welcomed guests. The event,
organised by Charles Trehane, was very much enjoyed, despite a loss of £19.32
having been incurred!!
The Luncheon was held at The Arnhem Gallery for the following three years
after which, for the sake of change, the event took place at The Reigate Manor
Hotel. It was in 1989, under the Chairmanship of Ken Bromley, that the response
to the Chairman's speech of welcome was, for the first time, made by a lady -
Mrs Mary Druce. The tradition has continued to this very day, when Margaret
Martin will, once again, speak for our Lady guests.
Following three years at Reigate, we transferred to The Peacock Lodge at
Linfield - a most happy choice!!! Many Members and formed a coach party for the
event every year. However, alterations at The Peacock Lodge forced us to
transfer to Purley Sports Club for one year under the Chairmanship of Bill
Taylor. A move to Woodcote Park Golf Club provided us with an excellent lunch
but, sadly, an expensive error involving the provision of table wine occurred to
We returned to Purley Sports Club in 1998 and there we have celebrated the
Ladies' Lunch every year with the exception of 2008 when we sampled the delights
of Carshalton Catering College!
And so we arrive at the present time and, with it, our twenty fifth
anniversary. Only two of the Members present in October, 1985, will be at
today's lunch, which will, once again, be 'Very Much Enjoyed' - as it was a
quarter of a century ago.
Note: The above appeared on the reverse of the menu sheet at
the event and was the inspiration for the most excellent speech by Mrs Margaret
Martin in responding on behalf of the lady guests.
Our Social Secretary made an inspired choice when he selected
Epsom Downs for our celebration of St George's Day, and more particularly, The
Rubbing House Restaurant, situated as it is almost within the shadow of the
famous grandstand. For this site is surely the embodiment of English culture
where, since 1780, The Derby and The Oaks have been run, and where fortunes and
reputations have been made and lost in the course of a crowded
We had secured a private room at the restaurant for our
celebration and some forty members, relations and friends of the Club had
assembled on a glorious afternoon of Spring sunshine.
There was a truly carnival
atmosphere in the dining room as old friends greeted one another and the din of
conversation and laughter filled the air and lifted the spirits. Perhaps
understandably, given the number of customers in The Rubbing House that day, to
say nothing of the multiplicity of individual orders, there was some delay in
service, but the efficiency of the staff and the general spirit of goodwill soon
dissipated any incipient grumbling.
It fell to one of our new members, Harold Brown, a member of
The Royal Society of St George, to propose the health of our
Patron Saint which was celebrated with universal acclaim. The crowning touch
was the presentation by Harold Brown of a red rose (of England) to each of the
ladies present, bringing to an end a memorable festival which, it is to be
hoped, will be repeated in the years ahead.
Afterwards, we drove home across the superb vista of the
Downs on roads bordered by an infinity of blossom - "O to be in England now that
April is there........."
The Probus Club of Purley Annual Ladies’ Lunch - 2008
By Alan Jessop
Apart from the Annual General Meeting, the Annual Ladies’ Lunch is the oldest social gathering of our Club, the first such function having taken place at The Arnhem Gallery in October 1985, with an attendance of ninety-two Members and guests - the Guests of Honour being the Mayor of Croydon accompanied by the Mayoress.
This year’s celebration on Wednesday, 26th November, proved to be yet another triumph for our Chairman, Alex Winkley who, during his year in office has done much to revive the social activities of the Club. For Alex, the office of Chairman has been no sinecure, and his energetic approach certainly breathed new life into this well established event!!
A fresh venue was selected for this year’s Lunch - ‘Nightingales’ - the restaurant which is, in fact, a functioning department of Carshalton College. The menu for a four course luncheon, including wine, was devised in consultation with the College together with arrangements for a pre-lunch Champagne Reception for some seventy guest and members, the management of the Luncheon being effectively in the hands of College students learning by experience the subtle business of catering!
We were very well looked after. The Reception was greatly enjoyed - many old acquaintances meeting for boundless chatter and laughter! Widows of former members had been invited and it was, as always, a great pleasure to have them with us and to be reminded, by their presence, of so many good friends of the days gone by.
The lunch really turned out very well and, although the service was a little tardy, it could not have been more friendly or cheerful. At the end of the meal all the students involved - chefs, waiters , wine stewards and supervisors - assembled to be heartily and deservedly applauded for their efforts.
Alex spoke eloquently in welcoming the Ladies (asserting inter alia that the Probus movement had originated in Canada - most historians thought that it was Caterham!). Jeanne Driscoll responded with a delightful speech invoking the pleasures and privileges of growing old in today’s world and, to bring the proceedings to a close, Ken Bromley, Chairman at the 1985 Luncheon (of which he was one of only three survivors present), proposed the valedictory Toast - ‘Probus in Purley’.
Next year marks our Silver Jubilee; what joys await us there?
Our respected Chairman being a Former Naval Person it is not, perhaps, surprising that the Club’s long- awaited return to Europe should have been arranged to take place on 21st October, 2008.
Accordingly a party of forty - including twenty Members - mustered at Purley Sports Club at eight bells on a pleasant Autumn morning to make the eagerly anticipated voyage to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Before leaving the home port, however, the morale of the expedition was much enhanced by the dramatic announcement that they would be travelling in the ENGLAND TEAM’S COACH!!!
Fortified by this intelligence we sped down the motorway to dreary Folkstone and the entrance to the Eurotunnel whence, following an exorbitant coffee and safely entombed in the ETC, we were conveyed to Sangatte and then onwards - to Boulogne!!
Arriving at 1300 hrs (French Time) there was little time to spare and so we were straight away carried to the picturesque Old Town and our immediate Objective - The Restaurant de la Haute Ville. Situated in the shadow of the walls of the Fortress, this picturesque, yet unassuming restaurant made us very welcome indeed, and, kindly received by the charming staff, we sat down to what by any standard was a memorable luncheon.
Soon the dining room was filled with animated conversation, laughter and the clipped accents of Franglais! Time and wine and good food mingled delightfully to extend our stay far beyond its allotted span! But, at last, it was time to depart - with much regret! Our itinerary provided for a sober ramble back through the streets of Boulogne to where the ETC awaited us, but other considerations prevailed - to wit Le Shopping - such an important feature of these day trips!!!
The Auchan Supermarket offered prodigious retail opportunities which were well patronised, and it was in a gathering dusk, made musical by the clinking of bottles, that we set forth for Sangatte and Home.
The journey back was a silent, sleep inducing episode - no raucous singing or anything of that kind and the good old ETC, superbly driven, delivered us back to the Sports Club just short of 10 pm.
A thoroughly delightful day had been enjoyed by the entire Company - totally indebted to our Chairman for all his hard and diligent planning to make Trafalgar Day, 2008, a Day to Remember!
Alan Jessop October 2008
Note: The coach used for the trip is the one used in 2005 by the England national soccer team and carries the registration number FA 05 ENG (Football Association, 2005, England).
Which is precisely what a party composed of 31 members and friends did on a fine August morning, except that they made their way via Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace Road.
This was a superb visit. Not only did we see the splendours of the Palace, the magnificent works of art, the marvellous decor of the State Rooms, but we had a lesson in living History in this, the largest Royal Palace in Britain. Really there were three factors which made this an even more memorable occasion. First of all we were welcomed with every courtesy to smooth our path through the rigorous security measures; secondly, and without exception, the attendants and guides were so good humoured and helpful, and, thirdly, the audio tours (complete with headphones and keypad), were the last word in efficiency covering pleasantly and methodically and in simple language, every aspect of our tour of the State Rooms.
Perhaps the abiding memory will be of the Banqueting Hall set out in all its glory for a State Banquet - silver, glass and china in luxurious abundance, superb floral arrangements; place settings and furniture laid out with military precision, a truly magnificent display. We learned that these standards originated in the 1840's when Queen Victoria first used the Palace as her personal residence. In the face of this breath-taking efficiency, it was pleasant to learn that the great Queen always brought State Banquets to a close with the music of the Pipes - a custom that has, it appears, prevailed to this day!
The Tour concluded with a stroll in the Palace gardens ('thirty acres of peace and tranquillity in the centre of London'); the sun shone, the air was warm and placid and it was time for lunch!
Probus members are greatly indebted to Alex Winkley for this excellent Tour and for the hard work he undertook to make it such a success. Under Alex's leadership members have, this year, visited the Houses of Parliament, Kew Gardens, Buckingham Palace and Brooklands motor racing circuit. A day trip to France follows in October, and a visit to the Bank of England in December - to say nothing of the projected Skittles Match with Woodcote Probus at 'The Haycutters', Oxted on 25th September!! Oh! and the Annual Ladies' Lunch is to take place at Carshalton Catering College on a date in November yet to be arranged.
Alan Jessop August 2008
Probus in Purley 'Open Lunch' Day
At Purley Sports Club
It is noteworthy that both our most senior
members (Ken Bromley and Arthur Goodsell) attended the 'Open Lunch' on 14th
August as well as our two newest recruits - David Brown and Andrew Frazer. They
were all amongst the seventy members, wives and friends who came to enjoy an
excellent lunch, splendidly presented by Club House Caterers and to listen to a
dissertation on the subject of 'Weather' given by the supremely knowledgeable
Ian Currie who guided us through several million years of cataclysmic
transformation to the present 'Global Warming' controversy.
The presence of so many ladies added an
undoubted charm to the luncheon and ensured that this venture (of the Open
Lunch) brought out the very best of 'Probus in Purley' with the sounds of
conversation and laughter predominating as old friends met together. The
proceedings ended, suitably enough, to the accompaniment of claps of thunder and
the splashing of rain - and that after Ian Currie had drawn attention to the
tranquil weather pattern which had enveloped Purley Sports Club for the majority
of the afternoon!!
Sincere thanks are due to those who
contributed to the success of this most pleasant occasion.