HISTORY OF THE PROBUS CLUB OF GODALMING
The Origin of Probus*
The first Probus Club was formed by Harold Blanchard in February 1966 in Caterham, Surrey. Harold had been a very active member and Past President of the Rotary Club of Caterham and felt that there were an increasing number of retired business and professional men who may have taken little or no active part in local affairs during their working lives. They may also have moved on retirement, may not have made many friends locally and would appreciate the opportunity to get together at regular intervals.
He subsequently called a well attended meeting of retired business and professional men living locally in Caterham to discuss the possibility of setting up a body to sponsor their interests. The inaugural luncheon of the first Probus Club took place on 2nd March 1966 in Caterham. The title of the Club was derived from the words “PROfessiona”l and “BUSiness”. The Latin definition of Probus as “morally good, upright, virtuous and honourable”, was also considered to be appropriate.
At about the same time, coincidentally, another notable Rotarian, Fred Carhill of Welwyn Garden City Rotary Club formed and sponsored a similar club know as the “Campus Club”. Whilst still retaining its original name this club has now been absorbed within the network of Probus Clubs.
Probus Club of Godalming
The Probus Club of Godalming was one of the first Probus Clubs to be formed. It was initially sponsored by Godalming Rotary Club whose efforts on behalf of our club have always been most appreciated.
The first committee meeting was held on 6 May 1968 under the chairmanship of Colonel D C Aldridge with Secretary CR Boyce and Treasurer L H Wailer. The minutes of that meeting record that:-
It was decided that the club would be purely a luncheon club with no political or religious application.
The possibility of an emblem would be referred to the whole club.
Members would draw a seating number at each meeting.
Two stewards would be appointed monthly for each meeting to deal with attendance book and collection of lunch fee to be passed to the Treasurer.
Procedure for luncheon - Chairman calls meeting to order and asks on member, already notified, to say Grace.
At the end of the meal the Chairman would call for a Loyal Toast.
Monthly luncheon meetings were held initially at the King’s Arms Royal Hotel, Godalming until 4 November 1971 when they were relocated to the Conservative Club, Wharf Street, Godalming.
In 1981 Len Griffiths initiated the Chain of Office worn by the President.
The venue for the monthly meetings was changed again on 6 January 1995 to the Godalming Masonic Hall.
By 1998 the number of members and applicants seeking to join the club was so great that a waiting list of up to two years existed. To alleviate this, a committee was set up under the chairmanship of Fred Lewis to set up another club within the local catchment area.
The inaugural lunch of that club which is named “Milford Probus Club” was held on 19 March 1999. And was attended by 28 members. Both clubs continue to meet monthly and are well attended. Whilst some events and outings are organised jointly by both clubs, the administration and membership of each club is managed separately.
There are now well over 1500 Probus Clubs in the UK and as many again throughout the rest of the World.
Unlike the Rotary and some other clubs such as the Woman’s Institute, Probus does not operate under a hierarchal management structure i.e. there is no affiliation to any regional or national body and each club operates independently with its own rules and committee structure. However, through the efforts of some of its members, a website promoting Probus worldwide exists on the internet at http://www.probus.org.
* The Origins of Probus was initially complied by Ken Martin in July 1999