Memory Lane: Grandads’ playgroup!

Probus Chairman Brian Haigh shaking hands with The President of Poulton-le-Fylde Rotary Club Ray Buckley
Probus Chairman Brian Haigh shaking hands with The President of Poulton-le-Fylde Rotary Club Ray Buckley
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Poulton Probus Club for retired business and professional men is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and going from strength to strength.

The club was sponsored by Poulton Rotary Club in 1971, by its then-president Eamon Monks who was the driving force. First chairman was Ralph Worrall, who later became an honorary member, before moving to York in 1989.

One of the first guest speakers was Bill Cross, from North Western Gas Board, based in Princess Street, Blackpool and, purely by coincidence, one of Bill’s former colleagues is the latest to join Probus.

Gas engineer Cyril Procter, who has just returned to the area after 26 years in Kendal, recalls Bill during his early career with the board.

In an article published by The Gazette and Herald 12 months after the club had been formed, chairman Ralph Worrall expressed “great satisfaction” at the progress made, and keen interest shown by its 41 members.

Some 39 years later, more than 1,600 speakers have addressed the club, and current chairman Brian Haigh said: “Those same words spoken all those years ago by Ralph could be applied to Poulton Probus today.

“We are a flourishing club, with 48 members, and Rotary president Eamon Monks would have been very proud of his achievement.

“We would be delighted to hear from anybody who can recall Eamon.”

Brian Ripley, a member for 15 years, and a former chairman, secretary and committee member, said: “While I have seen many changes in the world over the years, the Probus Club continues to be part of the fabric of Poulton, and it has been a real pleasure to have played such a leading role in making a contribution to the club’s standing.”

For many years, the club has met at the River Wyre Hotel, every Tuesday at 10am, where landlord Paul Thornhill is praised for “going out of his way to make members feel very welcome”.

One new member, Howard Carter, said: “My grandaughter describes Probus as a ‘playgroup for grandads’. How wonderful is that?”

He added: “Even in retirement I always learn something new from the varied speakers.

“There are some fine people in the club who make you feel very welcome and as a result of their fellowship I have started watching Blackpool Football Club, after an absence of more years than I care to remember.”

Retired senior civil servant Jeffrey Wright joined the club in 1984, the same year he was invested by the Queen into the Imperial Service Order.

Jeffrey, chairman in 1987 and secretary for several years in the 1990s, describes the club as always having been a lively source of good friendships and camaraderie.

He says: “I am confident regular injections of new and vigorous members will secure the club’s future for many years to come.”

Club chairman Brian Haigh added: “The club is run so members enjoy themselves and look forward to attending the meeting each week.

“We are happy to welcome new members who are assured of a warm welcome, so if you are retired or about to retire why not give Howard Carter a ring on (01253) 884766?”