Sidmouth’s Probus Club to fold after 38 years

Sidmouth Probus Club will fold at the end of this after 38 years. Anthony Fensom (acting Secretary);

Sidmouth Probus Club will fold at the end of this after 38 years. Anthony Fensom (acting Secretary); Roy Lurvey (Vice President and Speaker Secretary); Malcolm Davies (President); Edward Bearryman (Welfare Secretary) and Simon Card (Press Secretary Picture: Simon Card - Credit: Archant

A long standing men’s club that has brought retired and semi-retired business professionals together is to close after nearly four decades in the town.

Sidmouth and District Probus Club will cease to exist from December 31, after it was unable to fill key positions on its committee.

Following an extraordinary general meeting last week, president Malcolm Davies said it was a ‘sad day’ to say it was the end of the club.

The committee said potential solutions were not viable as they could not fill the roles of secretary, treasurer and speaker secretary - vital roles needed under its rules and constitution.

Mr Davies, who was an Oxford academic, said: “We have been facing this prospect for several years. We have had a steady decline in membership.

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“I think the benefit of it is being able to meet and exchange comments and companionship with other people who are from similar walks of life. There are very interesting people and it’s great to have the opportunity to talk about your career.”

He added his hopes that the club could be revived in future, if enough members were to come forward, despite Probus clubs across Devon closing or amalgamating due to low membership.

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Documents show the Sidmouth branch has been active since the 1980s with members engaging in a range of activities including holidays on the continent and a wealth of guest speakers.

Probus clubs were started with the aim to provide retired professionals with the chance to meet and attend talks and social events.

The town’s ladies Probus club will continue.

Press secretary Simon Card OBE added: “A good deal of effort had been taken by the committee to resolve the issue but in the end they had been unable to come up with a viable proposition. The members of the club were very disappointed but it was the right decision to take, given the circumstances.”

The club’s final events will be a talk by Gwynn Paullet entitled Did Julius Caesar Cross My Lawn? on November 13, before members gather for its Christmas luncheon on December 17.

The committee has also approached Sidmouth Museum to offer up its regalia, honours board and documents and will donate any remaining funds to local charities.

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