Probus Clubs

Members of the Rotary Clubs of Welwyn Garden City and Caterham can claim to have founded the first Probus Clubs in the United Kingdom in 1965 to provide fellowship opportunities for their older members and others. Rotary International supported expansion so that we now have Probus Clubs in large numbers in the United Kingdom, The Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia, USA, Japan and many other countries in Europe and the rest of the world.

Each club is autonomous and there is no central administration or associated bureaucracy. Some clubs are all male, some all female and some are mixed. Most organise monthly meetings with speakers and arrange outings, theatre trips, holidays and other events. Others meet more frequently. All set out to entertain, interest and occasionally to educate their members.

Membership comprises retired business and professional men and women as well as those from such areas as education, government and the church. Indeed, Probus is open to anyone who has had some measure of responsibility in any field of endeavour and seeks to associate with like-minded people. All clubs are strictly non-sectarian and non-political.

It was with the support of the Rotary Club of Hemel Hempstead that the Mayor of Dacorum sponsored an Inaugural Meeting at the Town Hall on Friday, 13 August 1971 out of which The Probus Club of Hemel Hempstead was formed. The Club grew and prospered so much so that by March 1982 a special Committee meeting was held to decide whether another club should be formed to take some of their members and those on their waiting list


Boxmoor Probus

On 1 June 1982 - an Inaugural Meeting of the proposed The Probus (Tuesday) Club of Hemel Hempstead & District was held at the St. John’s Hall, Boxmoor. “Tuesday” was incorporated in the title to distinguish them from the mother club which was to be known as the “Thursday” club. Attendance comprised 15 members of the “Thursday” club and 2 guests.

The initial suggestion that the “Thursday” Club Chairman should chair the meeting was declined and by unanimous consent Mr Alfred Neate was appointed to chair this meeting and continue in this role until a permanent chairman could be found. Geoff Bury was appointed Secretary and Alan Smith Treasurer..

The name of the Club, as above, was approved and it was agreed that the first General Meeting should be held on Tuesday, 6 July 1982, at 10.00 am, at St. John’s Hall with subsequent meetings to be held on the first Tuesday monthly.



The next meeting, on 6 July, attended by the same 15 “Thursday” Club members and three guests, had difficulty in finding volunteers to take on the remaining Committee posts and that of Chairman. However, they did sort out the rules and constitution, open the bank account, book the hall, get the list of members organised and set the annual subscription at £1.50 plus an entry fee of £1.

At the meeting of 3 August, David Izzett was appointed Chairman and 21 members and two guests attended. The first AGM held on 7 June 1983 involved the only election for office in the history of the Club, although both candidates found themselves on the Committee and all positions were filled. A year later the Club had 45 members, with attendance of around 35 at its meetings and the pattern was established very much as we see it today. It was at the meeting, on 5 June 1984, that the name was changed to The Probus Club of Boxmoor & District to emphasise that the new Club was firmly established and fully autonomous. The Hemel Hempstead Club then dropped the “Thursday” from its title. In the following five years, membership rose to 97 plus 1 Honorary Life Member and attendance was regularly in the 70’s.

Following dissatisfaction with arrangements at St. John’s Hall, now Boxmoor Playhouse, the Club moved its monthly meetings to the Bourne Methodist Church Hall in Northridge Way early in 1993 with meetings moved to Wednesday.

In 2010 the Club learnt that the Methodist Churches in Hemel Hempstead were to be reorganised and combined into one congregation at the Church in Northridge Way. This would necessitate the demolition and complete rebuilding of the existing Church and Hall so Boxmoor Probus had to look for a new home. The Committee commenced an extensive search; looking at the facilities offered by many different halls in the Hemel Hempstead area. It was eventually decided that the one which could best meet our needs was the Village Hall at Potten End which was familiar to members as the venue for the November Cheese & Wine Social Meeting. The last meeting at the Methodist Hall took place on 7th September 2011.

Membership remained at the permitted maximum of 100 ordinary members plus  Honorary Life Members until the AGM in June 2007 when the membership limit was increased to 110 in order to meet the increasing number of applications for membership.

Despite an 18 month hiatus in Club activities due to the Covid lockdown in 2020/21, a healthy membership has been retained, with interest during this period maintained through a monthly newsletter, contributed to by the members, and online “Zoom” meetings. We were finally able to resume face-to-face meetings at Potten End in September 2021.

Our monthly meetings continue to be held on the first Wednesday of each month at 10:00 for 10:30 at Potten End Village Hall. Our Speaker Secretaries have provided excellent speakers who have enlightened us on a range of topics which in recent times have included“Nelson and the Battle of the Nile”, “The Mafia and Frank Sinatra”, “The Wonderful World of Insects” and “All the Queen’s Horses and all the Queen’s Men”

Our Social Secretaries have organised most enjoyable Spring Breaks, in recent years to Llandudno, Harrogate, Torquay and Oakham, as well as many days out to places of interest. We have also enjoyed annual events such as a Christmas Lunch, a Barbecue and a Quiz so that each month of the year there is something to look forward to. In addition we have a well-supported Theatre Group within the Club which has given members the opportunity to enjoy operas, plays and musicals in the West End, at provincial theatres and at Stratford-upon-Avon and Chichester.

We are lucky to enjoy a friendly relationship with The Ladies Probus Club of Hemel Hempstead and have occasional contact with other local Probus Clubs.

From our earliest days we have been served by talented and dedicated Committee members who have supported and been supported by enthusiastic members. The work of the Care Secretary epitomises the ethos of the Club in showing concern and care for its members.

by Graham Cooper 2007

updated by Mike Beavington 2013 and David Norris in 2022

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