Message from the President
Year end and Hand-over
To all Members of Ashdown Probus Club,
This has to have been the strangest climax to an Ashdown Probus year end since the inception of the Club. Who would have thought, only a few weeks ago, that we would be suffering a national (or rather an international) crisis, and a complete embargo on non-essential movement? As a result we have had to postpone or cancel every single Club meeting and event for the foreseeable future and to resort to telephone, email and the website. Some really brave Members have even ventured into WhatsApp and Zoom!
I would like to thank you all for taking part in our hastily constructed ‘virtual’ AGM. Votes received exceeded the required quorum by a long way - a higher number, probably, than if the meeting had been held in the traditional way. You will not be surprised to learn that the AGM resolutions were all passed unanimously. I can reassure you all that there was no detected Russian influence - neither covert nor in emulation of the manner in which elections are conducted under that regime.
I am therefore delighted to report that David Scaife has been unanimously elected President of the Club for the coming year. He takes office on 6th April, the date for which the AGM had originally been scheduled. All I have now to do is to work out how to get the Presidential chain and gavel to him without getting arrested for venturing out.
David has been a huge support throughout my year as President. One of the main elements of the Vice-President’s role is to deal with membership issues. David’s efficient, organized approach has fitted that task perfectly. In addition I have greatly appreciated his wise counsel, and his ability to go straight to the heart of a problem, to cut through all the peripheral “what if’s” and to come up with the right solution.
David is both an experienced manager and an excellent ambassador for the Club. I thank him for his strong support over the past year, and I wish him every success in his year as our President. We are going to enjoy a very good year under his leadership.
David will be supported by a new Committee, but one whose membership will not change greatly from last year. I am really pleased that Brian Hughes has been elected as Vice President. I am sure that with Brian taking a leadership role the immediate future of the Club is in good hands and well secured. I am sure that we will all give him every support. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the Committee for all their help and commitment throughout the past year. Everyone has done everything required of them in their specific roles. More than that, though, each member of the Committee has been willing to go the extra mile when needed. I am proud to say that not once has anyone been reluctant to take on an extra task when asked. The result has been a strong Committee and a Club, I believe, that has been well run in the best interests of its members.
It is not only the work of the Committee that makes membership of Ashdown Probus Club so enjoyable. There are a number of members who take on specific responsibilities, but whose involvement is so often unsung, or even unnoticed. Whether it be running the golf section, hosting a picnic, organising ten pin bowling or croquet or running one of our three walking groups – the contribution that these willing volunteers make really does enhance what the Club has to offer. I thank them most sincerely for taking on these responsibilities.
I have purposely avoided mentioning individual names (other, of course, than the President and Vice President). That is partly because everyone has played their part equally in response to the commitment requested, and partly because I would be sure to cause offence by some accidental omission. There are, however, two exceptions that I must make to this principle – two officers of the Club I must name, who have fulfilled key roles over the past year.
The first is our Social Events Secretary, Paul Black, who has been responsible for organising our annual barbeque and Christmas lunch, not to forget the President’s lunch, that was ready to take place until the c-virus struck, but which (fingers crossed) we will still be able to enjoy later in the year), Paul has the ideal qualities for his role: highly organized, efficient, closely attuned to people’s likes and dislikes and with a forensic attention to detail – and all this a lot of the time from a sun-lounger in Spain!
The second is Phil Parker, who has in fact held two important offices: Outings Secretary and (with Neil Platt) Website Administrator. With strong support from Neil, Phil has developed the website since its inception, tireless in his efforts to cajole and persuade the less technically minded among us to make use of the advantages it offers. Together they have also worked very hard on investigating and finding new venues for outings, developing fresh areas of interest that have successfully caught the imagination of more and more of our members.
To Paul and Phil, as well as to all the members of the Committee, indeed to all who have played a role, however large or small, in the successful running of the Club over the past year, my sincere thanks for all your help, support and commitment in making the past year both so enjoyable and so rewarding for all our members.
For we have had a good year – until the last six weeks, that is. Our membership is strong. Whilst sadly our losses over the year have been more than usual, we have attracted a number of new members, with the result that membership is still at its maximum, with a continuing waiting list. Outings and events have been interesting and varied, as Phil and Neil have struck a new vein of attractions that have found a new level of popularity. And our social gatherings, the Christmas lunch, the picnic and the barbeque, have been well attended, as have the monthly lunches at the Golf Club, with a variety of interesting speakers.
I feel that we are going into the new Club year in good shape, with plenty of promise and with a strong leadership. I do hope that you all feel the same, and that it is not too long before we are released from solitary confinement and are able to enjoy a normal social life again.
In the meantime, keep safe, keep well and keep healthy – it can’t last for ever!
Message from the President
It has been a very successful year for the Ashdown Probus Club. With gentle humour and firm guidance Andrew has led The Club through a time where we have had a full complement of members, a list of members-in-waiting and we have seen high numbers of guests attending the Functions, increasing numbers attending the activities and outings which have become fully booked with waiting lists for the late comers.
This has been achieved through leadership and by instilling enthusiasm in a committee of volunteers with the result that they have elected to remain on the committee for the coming year; a thank-you to Nick Bunston who has stepped down, due to family commitments, Ken Young has volunteered to assist Paul Black as Function Secretary and I am delighted to announce that Brian Hughes has volunteered to become Vice President.
There have inevitably been moments of light hearted humour; the time when Andrew introduced the after lunch speaker, our Police & Crime Commissioner, by the wrong name. That brought a moment of stunned silence to the assembled members. No harm done, it just goes to prove that the great & the good are not quite as memorable as they would wish!
Then we come to the final few weeks of the Probus year. A challenge where decisions have had to be made at a time of radical change every 24 hours.
Finally Andrew had to take the decision to put on hold all physical aspects of the Club and to operate a contact system with members via email and the Club website.
It has been a pleasure to meet Margo on various occasions at functions, participating in activities and on several of the outings.
Finally on behalf of all the members of Ashdown Probus I look forward to when we are able to get together at a suitable time and venue to say a proper thank-you to Andrew for all he has done to promote the club during the past year.
Stay safe, keep in touch, use the website.
Regards to all,
March 2020: During the current corona virus crisis ALL Ashdown Probus Club events (functions and outings) have been cancelled / postponed and our regular monthly luncheons suspended until further notice. We will keep members informed of any changes in the club situation via e-mail broadcasts.
Please note that as a service to members in the local area we are endeavouring to provide news on services available to assist members during the crisis. Please log on to the Members area to access this information which we will make every effort to keep up to date.
If those members in Tunbridge Wells and other areas have information on similar services in your local community, please feel free to pass this on to our website administrator Phil Parker for inclusion here.
Stay safe and healthy!
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 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 will gather this year at High Rocks Hotel just outside Tunbridge Wells 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