Brief History of the Probus Clubs

The Probus Club movement was formed in the United Kingdom in 1965.  One of the first clubs was formed by the Rotary Club of Welwyn Garden City, with Fred Carnill as the driving force.  He had retired and used to meet a few other retired friends for morning coffee – mostly ex-commuters to London, with professional and business backgrounds.  There were many other men in the area with similar backgrounds.  From this he started a luncheon club.  The Rotary Club President arranged the first meeting and 45 men attended.

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 inaugural luncheon of the first PROBUS Club in the UK took place on 2 March 1966 at Caterham.  The success of this club very soon became known among neighbouring Rotary Clubs and the whole concept snowballed – there are now over 2000 clubs in Great Britain and Ireland.

The name PROBUS was suggested by a member in Caterham in 1966 who took the first 3 letters from PROfessional and the first 3 letters from BUSiness.   Incidentally, Probus is a Latin word from which probity was derived.

The movement grew rapidly and is now almost worldwide  Some countries do have their own governing body, but GB & I do not. Each club is autonomous, making it’s own rules and decisions about time, place and regularity of meetings, and the format of those meetings.  Some clubs are still sponsored by their local Rotary Club and others spring up from the waiting lists of thriving clubs.  (Like us).

All clubs follow the same ideals of providing a gathering of like-minded retired professional and business people who want to extend their circle of friends.  Some clubs are gentlemen only, some are ladies only and some are mixed.