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Probus celebrates 30 years

Five of the original members of the Masterton Probus club, from left, Joan Wooler, Alex Neale, Barbara Anderson, Bill Hamilton and Ewen Cameron. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

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There were smiles all around as Masterton Probus club celebrated its 30th anniversary last week.

Called “a friendship club for retired and semi-retired people”, a cake was cut by three founding members to celebrate the achievement.

Spearheaded by Rotarian Harry Tolley in 1989, the club has grown from 36 people at the first meeting, to more than 200 today.

Although the meeting venues have changed over the years, the day and format are still the same 30 years later.

Because of their popularity, there are four Probus clubs running in Wairarapa.

During the first meeting in September 1989, interest groups were formed to build greater friendships and provide opportunities to socialise.

The ‘Weather Watchers’ group was surprisingly popular, after only Alex Neale listed meteorology as an interest.

Original member Joan Wooler joked: “I said ‘Oh you won’t get a group because you’re the only one there’, and yet that was the most successful group.”

After loving his work all his life, Neale wanted to share his passion with others and, through word of mouth, grew the group which still meets today.

Neale, a founding member and first decade president, said it was the success and use of speakers from the group itself which made the club so successful.

The initial idea was that because members had come together from different backgrounds, there was a need for members to introducing themselves.

“People in the audience suddenly find that they have an interest in some of the things this person spent their lives doing,” he said.

“When you got them to talk about their lives it was fascinating.”

Wooler came to Masterton from Wellington after retirement, and thought it would be something new to do in Wairarapa.

“It’s a way of meeting people, it was so good.

“[I enjoy] coming to the meetings and hearing good speakers and the amazing lives of some of them, and joining the interest groups, because it’s really important for the wider membership.”

The speakers at the meetings are always something that is looked forward to with a history of a very diverse speakers.

Ewen Cameron said it was the people they meet, speakers they have, and places they get to go that makes Probus a great club to be a part of.

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