A comfortable retirement from work after a busy career is an ambition for most professionals. But many find that when they leave the workplace what they most miss is the opportunity to spend informal time with their former colleagues.
The Probus clubs fill that gap for retired professionals and businessmen and women. In the small town of Oundle, there are actually three separate Probus clubs, which each meet about once a fortnight.
The Probus club movement was founded in 1966, by a group of men nearing retirement. The well-established Rotary Clubs were for active businessmen, but there were no organisations for retired businessmen that provided structured opportunities to meet people and share interests.
With the assistance of the Rotary Club, the first lunch club was set up and was very successful. The clubs have since spread across the UK and worldwide, with clubs in places such as Ireland, Canada, New Zealand. The name ‘Probus’ comes from the first letters of ‘Professional and Business’.
There are about 2000 clubs local to towns and districts in the UK. Some clubs are sponsored by a Rotary Club, but there is no central organizing body, and therefore each club sets its own rules, although there is a central newsletter.
Most club memberships are single sex. While the majority of clubs are men only, there are a growing number of mixed membership clubs. There is now a significant number of women-only Probus clubs.
In Oundle, there are three Probus clubs; these clubs each have a membership of around 40 members and each meet around twice a month at the Oundle Golf Club. The clubs are strictly non-political and non-profit, and there is little fuss or formality about the proceedings. They often have speakers who give talks on topics ranging from classic cars to beekeeping and climate change. In addition to meeting for lunch, the members often attend events or go on trips locally and abroad. The aim is to offer an opportunity for a convivial gathering for those with more time on their hands after juggling a busy working career.
After suspending meetings over the pandemic, Oundle Probus club programmes are back on schedule and membership is open to newcomers.