Message from the President
Our new website was launched in January 2019 under the stewardship of my predecessor as President, Peter Barker. In just the few months since its inception the site has become regularly used as a valuable source of information about Ashdown Probus Club, its news and activities.
I therefore welcome warmly all members of the Club and indeed all visitors to this website. As the site is developing, so its success and its value to the Club are becoming ever more apparent. I urge you all to make full use of our website, to enjoy the excellent photographs of Crowborough and the surrounding area, and to learn about Probus in general and Ashdown Probus Club in particular.
All content is GDPR compliant. Information can be downloaded and printed where relevant.
We welcome suggestions for further improvement and content. Please do use the contact page to make your views and ideas known.
Find out more…
Andrew comes from a Kent farming family. He was the black sheep of the family, who became a lawyer. Nonetheless he has maintained a keen interest in the countryside and farming, especially fruit growing, throughout his career.
After qualifying as a solicitor, Andrew worked in the City, before joining Tunbridge Wells solicitors Cripps Harries Hall (now Cripps LLP) in 1976 as a commercial property lawyer. He and his wife Margo moved with their family to Rotherfield in 1979. Having now lived in Rotherfield for 40 years, they are no longer seen as “incomers”!
Andrew retired from Cripps in 2010, after thirty years in partnership and eight years as senior partner. Since retirement he has maintained an active involvement in a number of local organisations, including the Rotherfield Millennium Green, Rotherfield Church choir, Crowborough Choral Society and the Friends of Rotherfield and Brook Surgeries. He also has an active role as Secretary of the Chatham Historic Dockyard.
Margo and Andrew have a son and daughter in law who live in London, and three grandchildren, who are of course, nearly perfect, especially when asleep!
Quote of the week…
PROBUS - WHAT IS IT?
- PROBUS is NOT a fundraising organisation
- PROBUS exists to provide a social forum, fellowship and friendship for like-minded people
- PROBUS is not affiliated to a central organising body
- Each PROBUS Club has its own constitution
- The origins of PROBUS were with Rotary, who sponsored the first clubs
- PROBUS Clubs may be mixed gender, men only or women only
- There are no upper or lower age limits
A Probus club is a local association of retired and semi-retired professional and business people, and others who have had some measure of responsibility in any field of worthy endeavour, who are of character and respected in their communities. Clubs meet regularly for fellowship and an extension of their interests. Probus is not a “senior citizens” or “lonely hearts” club.
The name is an amalgam of the abbreviation of the words PROfessional and BUSiness. Probus is also a Latin word meaning honest or virtuous, from which the English word “probity” is derived.
Probus is a non-sectarian, non-political luncheon club for retired professional and business men. The first Probus Club was set up by a group of ex-Rotarians in Caterham, Surrey, in 1966. The idea caught on and today Probus Clubs are to be found in many parts of the English-speaking world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India.
Each Probus club is autonomous. There is no central organisation and each club sets its own rules.
Probus clubs are local to towns and districts. By 2002, there were over 300,000 members in approximately 4,000 Probus clubs worldwide. By 2014 there were around 2000 clubs in the UK alone.
For further details on Probus in the UK visit http://www.probusonline.org/history/
ASHDOWN PROBUS CLUB of Crowborough
The original Crowborough Probus Club was formed out of The Royal Tunbridge Wells Club in 1987 with a nucleus of just 4 members. By January 1991 the Crowborough Club had reached its constitutional ceiling of 50 members and had a waiting list of 14 with others showing an interest in wishing to become members. The Crowborough Club under its then President, Eric Nailard, set up a meeting on 28th February 1991 to discuss the formation of a new club and thus the Ashdown Probus Club was born. By the time of the first AGM of April 1992 the membership had risen from 16 to 47.
The purpose of The Ashdown Probus Club is purely social and to promote fellowship and friendship among its members. The Club used to meet for a monthly luncheon at The Plough & Horses pub in Crowborough until this establishment closed its doors in 2016. It then relocated to Crowborough Beacon Golf Club, Beacon Road, Crowborough, TN6 1UJ for its monthly meeting and luncheon on the second Monday of each month and has remained there ever since. Members gather at 12.00 noon for a 12.30 p.m. two course meal and coffee followed by a guest speaker and questions.
With the exception of the monthly luncheon, members’ wives and partners are invited to join in all social activities - enjoying the President’s Lunch at the Hydro Hotel, Eastbourne in the Spring, a mid-Summer BBQ at Barnsgate Manor, Herons Ghyll and a later Summer picnic hosted at a member’s private home. Christmas lunch is the highlight of the year when approaching 100 people including members, their wives/partners and guests gather at Barnsgate Manor, Herons Ghyll to celebrate the Christmas season.
Outings to varied and fascinating places are enjoyed in the company of wives/partners and guests during the year. Such day trips include museums, stately homes, gardens, canal and heritage railway outings. These may be by coach, train or members’ own transport. The twice-annual TWODS shows at the Assembly Halls, Tunbridge Wells are a regular feature of organised trips.
There is also an active Golf section with Spring and Autumn meetings arranged at various golfing venues around the South east. Other activities include Croquet in the Summer and Ten Pin Bowling in the Winter with countryside walks of around four miles organised each month during the Spring, Summer, and Autumn, ending with a pub lunch.
Ashdown Probus Club currently has over 60 Full members with a small number of Waiting Occasional members. The Club is administered by a committee comprising The President; Vice President and up to 9 other members elected at the AGM held in May each year. The committee allocates responsibilities as it sees fit provided that there shall be a Treasurer and Secretary.
ASHDOWN PROBUS CLUB 25th Anniversary Celebration (2016)
Ashdown Probus Club celebrated its 25th anniversary on Tuesday 9th August 2016 at the beautiful Salomons Estate near Tunbridge Wells.
On arrival traditional celebratory refreshments were served on the terrace overlooking the spectacular grounds with close-up magic performed by Silly Simon. Then 112 guests enjoyed listening to music played on the fabulous Welte Organ in the Science Theatre.
Mike Roberts, President of Ashdown Probus Club 2016-17, welcomed all members and their wives or partners and also introduced Chris Rapley and his wife, President of the original Crowborough Probus Club.
An excellent dinner, also served in the Science Theatre, was enjoyed by all guests and this was followed by an excellent raffle and a superb display of magic and illusions provided once more by magician Silly Simon.
Crowborough, situated just south of Tunbridge Wells on the A26 has the largest population in inland East Sussex (20,607 in 2011) and at 794 ft (242 metres) above sea level is the highest town in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It borders the Ashdown Forest, a site of European significance for birds and heathland. The countryside around the town is a walkers' paradise and there are also facilities nearby for horse riders, cyclists and rock climbers.
The town was really established in the 18th century after local benefactor Sir Henry Fermor bequeathed money for a church (All Saints) and charity school for the benefit of the “very ignorant and heathenish people”, as he described them in his 1732 will, who lived in Crowborough and Ashdown Forest. The town expanded with the arrival of the railways in 1868 and became a health and holiday centre - earning the soubriquet of Scotland in Sussex. A heathland golf course - with magnificent views across Ashdown Forest and the south downs, a hospital and fire station were added between 1895 and 1905. Gradually the town grew to incorporate neighbouring Jarvis Brook, Poundfield, Whitehill, Stone Cross and Alderbrook, Sweet Haws and Steel Cross.
Crowborough’s most famous resident was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and author of many novels written in the years he lived in the town. He is commemorated by a statue now standing at Crowborough Cross - the town’s main crossroads.
Other attractions that Crowborough can offer visitors include a country park, a thriving arts culture and various annual events including the Summer Fair, a Christmas Event, the traditional Bonfire Society carnival in September and the amazing annual fireworks event on 5th November annually.
CROWBOROUGH and Montargis
The towns of Crowborough and Montargis are twinned through war time connections between Colonel Maurice Buckmaster of the SOE and his counterpart in France, Monsieur Jean Laurent. Montargis, a much larger town than Crowborough, is about seventy miles south of Paris and with some 131 bridges and footbridges straddling many canals, Montargis has earned the nickname the "Venice of the Gâtinais".
With the vestiges of its old château, its half-timbered houses and Renaissance residences, its regenerated Tanners' district and a museum dedicated to local painter Anne-Louis Girodet, Montargis offers an invitation to visitors to soak up its charm and sample its local speciality of pralines.
The twinning charter was signed on 22 May 1966. There is an active twinning association between the towns, making annual visits to Montargis and hosting families from the town in return. The visitors stay with families in Crowborough and many long term friendships, and a few marriages, have been formed. Some of the local sports clubs also take part in exchange trips and there are close connections with The Royal British Legion. Young people from both towns seek holiday work and have gained much from the experience.
ASHDOWN PROBUS CLUB Past Presidents
Michael van Beek
Duncan Rawson Mackenzie
ASHDOWN PROBUS CLUB Committee
Phil Parker / Neil Platt