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What does Probus mean to you?

What does Probus mean to you?

Probus is a broad community that brings together people from all walks of life, but its main aim is one of connection, or Fellowship, and from that stems the Friendship and the Fun. We talk to Probians about what the Club brings to their life.

Probus is clear about its aims of Fun, Friendship and Fellowship, but all Clubs are different and people’s reasons for joining are also very personal. It might be moving into a new area, the loss of a partner, or the chance to make new friends. You might join a Probus Club to expand your mind with a range of guest speakers or for the morning tea get-togethers.

Just as each Probus Club is unique, so to is what Probus means to each and every one of its members. Like the personalities of the people involved, what you get from, and what you give back to, Probus can vary wildly.

To get a sense of what Probus can bring to people’s lives, we chatted to some Probians about what they look forward to with their monthly meetings and outings.


John Barclay

Ambassador, Probus Association Queensland

Probus means: being united in retirement

John Barclay’s life is pretty active as it is with four kids, 10 grandchildren, and doing things with his wife Annette. For John, though, activities with a Probus Club are enhanced by the fact that you are on these outings with people you know well.

“The Friendship part and the Fellowship part is the core – it’s the backbone of any Club,” John says. “It’s one thing to do activities in a group that you’ve never been in. It’s much more relaxing to do it with people who you know, because when you know people you can relax and be yourself.”

John started his Probus journey as the Foundation President of Indooroopilly Probus Club in Queensland. He was previously a Rotarian for over three decades and says there was such a huge response to the first meeting of the Indooroopilly Club that they had to split into two groups: Indooroopilly and Indooroopilly West.

John, who used to own Barclay Insurance Brokers before retiring, says his ambassador role is constantly evolving, so he can get the feedback and find what the Clubs want to do and then help Probus support them in their endeavours.

“Probus members are united by retirement,” John says. “It’s important that we share the Fun and the Fellowship with others. The enjoyment in my case in particular is being able to voluntarily build Probus for others.”

John helps build the club in his role as an ambassador, a role he really enjoys. “The ambassador role is like being a general practitioner or a doctor, doing medical check-ups on Clubs,” he says. “I am there to help, listen and accumulate information from all the other Clubs. Then we can share the information, the good things from one Club, or the things that are not working and then help provide solutions for those Clubs.”

It might be that Clubs change up their activities, go on a new membership drive or even start a new Club if the old Club is happy as it is. It’s all about keeping Probus vibrant and making sure Clubs grow.

“If you keep the Clubs vital for all of us, activities like Probus just make life at the ages that we are in more fulfilling,” John says. “To me personally, it’s a Club that my wife and I can enjoy, something that both of us can do equally; not like a cooking class, which she would be better at!”


Peter Wesley

Membership officer, Probus Club of Perth, Western australia

Probus means: keeping himself busy in retirement

Peter Wesley is very active in the west, having joined the Probus Club of Perth about 11 years ago after being retired for over a decade. A former Wesfarmers corporate man for over three decades, Peter played an integral part in refreshing the Perth Club, changing it from a Men’s Club to a Combined Club.

Peter recently had a hip replacement but a few weeks later was back in his role as membership officer answering Probus enquiries, a job that he relishes.

“The one thing that keeps your mind off things, off yourself, is to work for Probus,” Peter says. “You are meeting different people, you are getting different insights on what people want, and what people need, and you are able to help people. Probus has pulled me through this sort of stuff.”

Peter says he was not able to attend recently when the Probus Club of Perth inducted five new members, bringing it up to the threshold of 80, but had all the paperwork in order before he went into hospital.

“It’s a great leveller. It’s a great way to be with people from all walks of life,” Peters says. “Everyone has such a great story.”

One thing Peter noticed about the Club is that people can be reluctant to share their tales. With that in mind, he arranged for the Club to change from having people just tell their stories by turning them into a fun question-and-answer exchange.

“That went off so beautifully,” he says. “We practised beforehand and we had people from other Clubs come and say, ‘We have a similar problem and we might change to a Q&A.’”

Peter, aged 79, is constantly assessing the needs of his members. He found recently that one of the most popular things is not just the meeting, but also the lunch afterwards. He believes venue is important; the members get to relax and talk about things at the local golf club, and this after-meeting chat, which used to be 10 people, has now risen to 40.

“Probus widens your attitude to a range of things.” Peter says. “You can talk about anything and everything and most people will listen and have a nice easy debate. They don’t want to dominate – from the Friendship and Fellowship point of view – and that is what I really get out of it. What you really find out about people is that they love to have a chat, and that is done when they relax away from the meeting, or when they go on outings.”

Peter also keeps an eye on what is going on in overseas Probus Clubs via a friend who goes to a Probus Club in Toronto. They recently exchanged a list of interest groups and they are looking to expand the interest groups in both of the Clubs.

Another benefit of Probus to Peter, and his wife Ann, was recently discovered on a trip to Darwin where the pair decided to visit some of the local Probus meetings and make themselves known.

“We had the most wonderful time,” he says. “At each Club meeting we put down our name for trips and sunset cruises and we became part of the local community, which is far better than being a tourist. We mixed so well; they were so welcoming and it was a wonderful experience.”

Based on his trip to Darwin, Peter is now keen to get the Clubs in the west to mix with each other more.


Richard Cleave

Publicity officer, Hope Island Probus Club, Queensland

Probus means: an active social life

“We always focus on the three words of Fun, Friendship and Fellowship and what we endeavour to do is follow that lead,” Richard says. “At meetings, we try to make things as varied as possible: a mix of sensible things and silly things and fun things. And the same applies to outings.”

Richard hails from the UK and was invited to Probus by friends. He says that for his Club in general it is the social interaction that keeps bringing people together – in particular getting to know the local area.

“What we have found that members enjoy is local outings,” Richard says. “People embrace the idea of dining out. The next thing we have got coming up is the annual barbecue that we run at a nearby park.”

Richard, who spent three decades working for Cable & Wireless, and his wife Mardie, who worked at the UN, like to “keep their grey cells turning over” – and for that they also enjoy the guest speakers at Probus.

“What is important is that we have this excellent variety of guest speakers,” Richard says. “This week we have had some people from RACQ talking about driving issues that affect our age group. It is good public information because the rules are always changing. The emphasis for us is to keep it varied.”


Ruth Chancellor

Former Secretary, Montrose Probus Club, Victoria

Probus means: Activities in retirement

“We have met new people with very interesting lives,” says Ruth Chancellor of her time at Montrose Probus Club in Victoria. “I think it has been good for my husband, Bill, especially. We have learned to square dance – that is a new skill for us. Bill does carpet bowls with a new group as well, and we have coffee mornings and games days. We have a singing group and a walking group.”

Ruth first heard about Probus from her sister-in-law and she was immediately attracted to the idea of increasing her activities in retirement. The Club has a wide variety of personalities and she enjoys being part of a large group. Ruth says she didn’t so much retire as cease being a foster parent, after caring for a number of kids since 1999. She decided to stop fostering children around five or six years ago and instead turned her attention to Probus.

“We go on a weekly bus trip once a year to the Snowy Mountains and to places around Adelaide,” she says. “We are heading to the border at Mildura, and this year we are also going to Warrnambool.” 


The history of Probus

Probus has its origins in the United Kingdom following the development of two community-based social clubs in the 1960s.

In 1965, the Campus Club was formed by the Rotary Club of Welwyn, Garden City, just north of London. In 1966, the first Probus Club was established by the Rotary Club of Caterham.

Both clubs were formed to meet the social and intellectual needs of retired businessmen. When it became clear that the clubs were servicing the same need, the Campus club changed its name.

The first Probus Club in the South Pacific region was the Probus Club of Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. The Club was formed in 1974 and was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Paraparaumu. This was soon followed by the formation of the Probus Club of Hunters Hill, NSW in 1976.

The first Probus Club for women in the region was the Ladies Club of St Heliers, New Zealand in 1982. This was closely followed by Bateau Bay, NSW later that year. Following the advent of single-gender Clubs, the concept of combined-gender Clubs was developed. Today, there are Men’s, Ladies’ and Combined Clubs.

Since the first Clubs were established in New Zealand and Australia, Probus has grown at an astonishing rate.

Probus is a worldwide movement, and the Probus philosophy – Fun, Friendship and Fellowship – is shared by all Clubs.

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