The Forming of Heswall Probus

The idea of forming a Probus Club in Heswall came from a Rotarian, Bill Hill whose relative in the South was a member of a local Probus and it did indeed come to pass limited to 80 members; so successfully indeed that a "Wait List" was drawn up from which list, Gayton Probus was formed. In the late 1980s we met at the Devon Doorway, run by Mrs Barnes. Payment was in cash, to a collector at each table who passed the money on to the Treasurer, who happened to be Ian Rutter who streamlined it to payment by cheque. A move was made to The Grange (still with Mrs Barnes) and numbers increased to 100 at which time, Ian Rutter became Chairman (1991/92) and started our Wednesday morning meeting at the Alessandra Hall from which we moved to the United Reformed Church under the Chairmanship of Brian Eastwood, where we still remain for Wednesday Morning coffee, Bridge and Social Chat. A further morning Social Meeting-place is the Harvest Mouse in Pensby Road on Monday Mornings at 11.00am.


It will be seen that much of the ethos of Heswall Probus is one of keeping active, men who have led responsible and busy lives in business, commercial and academic circles. The activities outlined above were part of this but such people as Ian Rutter, Brian Eastwood, David Cross and Richard Pickering, and now a Social Committee, endeavour to produce an interesting programme of trips, functions, pub quizzes, walks and rambles.

At the centre of all this, the vital core of Probus has been the Monday Lunches, augmented by an Annual Ladies' Lunch and usually, two 'Evenings at the Grange'. A Monthly Lunch with selected speakers on interesting subjects has always been the big event that pulls all together. For some time, this has been an event at the heart of which has been the sterling effort of Ron Hampton who has negotiated with Mrs Barnes and her staff to maintain a high standard of catering at a price within the reach of all. From the beginning, Probus has focused on the welfare of its members. As we are all retired men, it is a sad fact of life that illness and death take their toll. Richard Pickering, recalls that in his first months as Chairman, (2003/04) he called the members to their feet in respect at four consecutive lunches, the fourth being for three members. Nevertheles, he states in his inimitable way, " - - - it is my deep belief that we have to keep the troops as jolly and cheerful as possible"



In this matter, I quote Ian Rutter who has been a tremendous help in preparing this document:

"From the early days, the welfare of members has been paramount. Originally, Ernest McLellan was responsible for checking, visiting the sick and keeping the members informed, with the result that no member need be lonely or in need of company and support. Ernest did this job virtually single-handed and it was realised that if it was not to be a life work, help would be needed. The helm was taken by John Clarke and under his direction, is now dealt with by several individuals each responsible for a number of members".

It is noted (Probus Minute Book 20/1/97 to 19111/2001) that a Probus Care and Communication (PCC) Tree was started by Col Mawby in January, 1999 and has shared the work of welfare between nominated members. John Clarke announces sick members at the luncheon and brightens the proceedings at the end of his report with an eagerly awaited and rarely disappointing joke.


The years of Richard Pickering's Chairmanship (2003/04)saw the coming of several new and beneficial Improvements. A streamlining of the procedure for finding 'Grace-sayers' and 'Voters of Thanks', a List of Recommended Tradesmen was gathered from the membership. This has been a great help to members and his Bit of Fun Tombola with a E50 prize - more at Christmas - has sent many home with a smile on their faces. His implementation of the presentation of a bottle of whisky or two of sherry to members reaching 90 years has not made anyone desperate to acquire the extra years but perhaps the increased numbers on the short walk Rambles in an effort to last a bit longer through exercise - claiming the White Horse rather than being claimed by the Pale Horseman.

While it has never been a major part of Probus policy to raise money for charity, many of the speakers donate the money we pay them for coming to whatever organisation they support or speak on behalf of. At an EGM in 2000, the motion; . . . that Heswall Probus Club make a donation to a local charity" was defeated.