It all started with Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. A booklet known as the “Project Library” was issued to all Rotary clubs. It contained all the approved projects that clubs could undertake locally, nationally and internationally.

Under the “Community Service” heading were details of the formation of Probus clubs.

Thus inspired with vision and altruism the Rotary Club of Thornton Cleveleys decide to hold an exploratory meeting(to-day we would call it an interest meeting) and to invite interested prospective members to a meeting at the Hazel Grove Hotel on the 19th February 1970. 8 Rotarians and 11 visitors attended and 5 possible members wanted more information as they were unable to attend the meeting. There was sufficient interest to move the idea forward and on the 5th March 1970 a further meeting was held the President of the Rotary club being in the chair. There were 26 present, the chairman explained the objective and it was decided to go ahead with the new club which had the provisional title “The Probus Club of the North Fylde” to meet at the Hazel Grove Hotel on Thursday mornings.

On the 16th March the interim committee met and drew up the draft rules for the club. It was decided that the maximum number of members would be 50 and the subscription would be 5 shillings per annum.

At the first AGM in May 1970, 42 members were present. It was agreed that the cost of coffee should be 1s-9d (including 2d for tips.) What was a problem that emerged regularly as time went on was the difficulty in getting speakers and it was decided that the tried and tested system used by Rotary Clubs that each member should speak or find a speaker. It was agreed the membership should be raised to 60. The first annual dinner was held in December at the Hazel Grove Hotel and members had the choice of consommé or mushroom soup followed by roast Norfolk turkey with the usual accompaniments then fresh fruit salad and cream or peach melba, the meal to conclude with cheese and biscuits and coffee – all for 25 shillings.

At the second AGM it was noted that the maximum number of members was 60 but as there was a waiting list of 5 the total should be increased to 65. The club had been very active socially making 10 visits, an outing to the Lake District and the annual dinner. It was agreed the coffee price would be 9 new pence. The Christmas dinner cost 95 pence + 10% service charge. In 1972 the Rotary Club decided not to pay for the President’s and Vice President’s badges so the club resolved to buy the President’s badge only out of club funds.

At the third AGM that subscriptions to organizations would be £3.00 as 3 guineas was out of date, though it is not clear to whom these subs. were payable.

In 1973 the purchase of loudspeaker equipment was to be considered and if agreed (it cost £70) members would be asked to contribute. The annual outing was by coach to the Low Wood Hotel (lunch stop 70p) then to Ambleside and a boat trip to Lake Side.

At the 4th AGM the subscriptions were agreed at 50p and the maximum number of members raised to 70. A list of members was published and there were actually 77 on the list.

In 1974 9 visits were made and there was a hot-pt supper and the annual dinner. Speakers were to be offered liquid refreshment at the end of the meeting. (I don’t remember getting any when I spoke there all those years ago!)

In January 1975 coffee went up to 10p thus depriving the club of 1p per member per week. To meet this deficit every member to pay a supplementary 25p on the annual subscription forthwith.

In 1975 subscriptions went to £1.50. There was a proposed holiday in Eastbourne in Spring 1976 at a total cost of £45. Things carried on running smoothly and membership rose to 80 in 1978.

In 1980 there was a change of ownership at the Hazel Grove. Following the barrage of falling bricks and masonry at the Hazel Grove whilst a meeting was being held, this being the result of renovation work, it was decided to meet at the Illawalla. The last meeting here was on 11th September 1980 and the club was offered a room at the Musketeer (formerly the Hazel Grove) at a cost of £10 and 25p for coffee. The subscriptions were increased to £8 to cover the extra cost.

In 1981 it was reported that the social events were not well supported and the Press Officer had little success with the items he had submitted. A special committee meeting in June 1983 considered whether 80 members were too many. It was felt that not enough importance was given to attendance and punctuality. There was a feeling that the quality of speakers left much to be desired. The present 9.30 a.m. start was resented by some members. There was an urgent need to find a Speaker Secretary (interestingly enough an early Speaker Secretary was Edwin Buckley J.P., it turns out that he was not related to our current excellent Speaker Secretary Donald Buckley). Lack of support for social activities was again emphasised in 1984 and members were urged to tell their life stories. It was also felt that members should circulate. In future committee meetings would be held at the United Reformed Church and no more meetings would be held at the Musketeer. It was agreed to supply all members with a list of speakers for the next six months.
Following the move from the Musketeer the club moved to the Ashdell Restaurant on the 16th August 1984 – the Ashdell no longer exists.

At the 1985 A.G.M. it was decided that in future all prospective members would be interviewed by a sub-committee. Sadly on the 7th July the last Founder Member died – Harry Schofield, aged 87.

In 1986 it was agreed there should be no automatic transfer of members of other clubs to the Cleveleys club and furthermore it was decided that the membership should be limited to 70 in number.

1987 was a boom year for social activities, there being 28 events held.

1988 an extra-ordinary committee was held on the 15th July as the Ashdell Restaurant changed hands and the new owners were asking for £20 per session so it was felt necessary to move and following the sub-committee’s decision on the 26th July the club moved to the Masonic Rooms,West Drive, Cleveleys, where it still meets at the present. The subscription was to be £15 per annum.

In 1989 it was felt necessary to buy a screen as a number of speakers were now bringing slides. No visits were held in this year as the demands of health and safety regulations and the cost of insurance caused some uncertainty and further consideration of these matters were undertaken. In any case at this time there were a number of objections to wives and partners being invited on visits. By this time things were moving along smoothly but interesting to note that in 1993 the club was still trying to sort out the sound system and the Treasurer thanked the club members for their comments, back chat and foreign coins.

In 1997 the club changed its name to “The Probus Club of Cleveleys”.

The club continues to flourish with currently a membership of fifty to sixty(new members are always welcome) and thanks to the diligent, hard-working Speaker Secretary there is a constant flow of interesting speakers on a variety of topics and latterly more club members are stepping up to tell of their work and experiences.

The club is in excellent heart and with a regular influx of new members is looking forward to a long and healthy future.

Derek B. Timms