The Probus Club movement started in the UK in 1965. It had its beginnings in two clubs, both created by members of Rotary.
In 1965, Fred Carnill, a member of the Welwyn Garden City Rotary Club, met other retired friends, mostly ex-commuters to London, with professional and business backgrounds, for a morning coffee. From this, he started a luncheon club. The Rotary Club president arranged the first meeting and 45 men attended. This club was known as ‘The Campus Club’, the name deriving from the fact that the meeting place faced the centre of town, ‘The Campus’.
The Rotary District took up the scheme and Rotary International, Britain and Ireland published a leaflet about the idea to encourage other Rotary Clubs to sponsor similar clubs.
The members of the Rotary Club Vocational Service Committee decided to organise a monthly lunch. In February 1966, a meeting was advertised for all retired professional and businessmen aged 60 and over. 42 men turned up. A monthly lunch was arranged, at which the Rotary Club President took the chair until the Club had formed its own rules and committee. The inaugural luncheon of the first Probus Club (by that name) in the UK was on the 2 March 1966.
In May 1966 a Committee was formed with Harold Blanchard as chairman, who is seen as one of the ‘Father Figures’ of Probus along with James Raper.
The name “Probus” was suggested by a member who took the first three letters from ‘PROfessional and BUSiness’. It had the advantage that it was a Latin word from which ‘probity’ is derived. The Probus Club of Caterham was a great success and became known among other Rotary Clubs and many new Probus clubs were founded.
In 1974, Probus expanded into New Zealand and by 1976 the idea had spread to Australia. The first Probus club in North America was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Galt in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada in 1987. Currently in Canada there are 245 clubs with more than 36,500 members.
Today Probus clubs exist in many parts of the world, including the United States, Belgium, India, South Africa and several other countries in Africa and Asia.