Harpenden Probus celebrates 40th anniversary

Chairman Chris Bunton ceremoniously cut an anniversary cake

Chairman Chris Bunton ceremoniously cut an anniversary cake at the Probus 40th anniversary. - Credit: Probus

A Harpenden speakers club is celebrating 40 years of lunch events.

The Probus organisation began internationally in the late 1960s as a luncheon club for retired - or semi-retired - professionals. Probus Secundus, as its name infers, was the second such club to be formed in Harpenden.

Secundus marked the event with a lunch at Shendish Manor enjoyed by 60 members, partners and widows of former members. Chairman Chris Bunton ceremoniously cut an anniversary cake.

Guest of honour was 95-year-old founding member, George Whitehead. Following a meal George, belying his advancing years, enriched, enlightened and amused those present with anecdotes of Secundus over the last 40 years. 

He spoke about the difficulty of finding good speakers: “I recall criticising the poor quality of speakers, and, after being invited to speak myself, realised that sometimes it is better to keep quiet!”

Catering was also a challenge, with meals being “prepared by two lady volunteers who operated from a kitchen hardly bigger than a large cupboard.”

He added: “Since those early days there have been many changes. A luncheon club has transformed itself into a very diversified social gathering of friends. There are still monthly lunches and speakers but much, much more as well. There are usually four main outings a year to interesting places – or at least there were until this year when the government closed all the destinations.

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"Groups of members meet regularly to take part in quizzes, coffee mornings, walking tours, discussion groups where we solve the world’s problems and finance groups where we try to get rich

" We even organise golf although no-one from here is likely to win the Open. So much has been achieved in these 40 years and much more will change for the better in the next 40. Pilates and bridge have made a start and other events will certainly follow. Progress won’t end here as long as we keep the management style that has led us so well over the last 40 years.”