HAROLD BLANCHARD worked in the City of London for Barclays Bank for many years, until he was transferred to Caterham due to heart troubles. He managed their branch there, and was a member of the Rotary Club of Caterham, but missed the fellowship he had with colleagues during his journeys to and from the City, and at work there.
He met other men in the town who had retired and missed the fellowship that he enjoyed as a Rotarian, but who were unable to join that organisation because of their retirement from work, or because the classification of their vocation was already occupied in the Club, for Rotary only allows one member of any particular occupation in any one Club.
His wife suggested that he approach the Rotary Club of Caterham with a view to starting a Club of such men, and in 1966 they gathered a small group to discuss such a formation of PROfessional and BUSiness men.
It was to be purely for friendship, meeting together for lunch once a month, without any obligations to become a service club, and with freedom to make up its own rules and activities.
Within a short time the first Club was formed, and soon had thirty or so members.
This initial success was reported to Rotary at District Assembly in Worthing on July 10th 1968, and interest for the idea spread.
From this simple adventure, Probus spread nationally to the extent that in 1994 there were over 100,000 members in the U.K. in 1,600 Clubs for men and about 150 Clubs for women.
Overseas there are Clubs in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium. The uncomplicated movement has no hierarchy, and every Club is self governing. Extra activities like excursions and theatre visits etc. are very often added.
But the whole movement is simply
an exercise in fellowship.