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The Probus movement had its genesis in two ancestors — both in the U.K. and both established by Rotary clubs. The first was known as the Campus club. It was formed in 1965 by the Rotary Club of Welwyn Garden City, 20 miles north of London with Fred Carnhill as the driving force. (Its name was derived from the area of the town in which it was conceived — the Campus.) The second, with Harold Blanchard as the catalyst, was formed by the Rotary Club of Caterham in 1966 and was named the Probus Club, for the “pro” in professional and the “bus” in business, which also made up the Latin word from which the word “probity” is derived. Both were formed to meet the need for companionship of their peers and mental stimulation for retired business and professional men.

Since then, Probus has spread around the world, it moved first within the United Kingdom, then to other European countries, on to New Zealand and Australia and then South Africa. More recently, to North America, Africa, India, Asia, Cyprus, South America and Japan. The first club in the region was the Probus Club of Kapiti Coast, New Zealand, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Paraparaumu in 1974. The first in Australia was the Probus Club of Hunters Hill, NSW, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hunters Hill in 1976 with the help of the Rotary Club of Dumbarton, Scotland. Since the first clubs were established in Australia and New Zealand, Probus has grown at an astonishing rate. By the turn of the century, there were in excess of 2000 clubs in the region.

The first Probus club for women in the region was the Ladies Probus Club of St Heliers,

New Zealand in 1982 and the second was formed in Bateau Bay, NSW later in the same year. Following the advent of single gender clubs for men and women, the concept of combined gender clubs was developed, so today we have men’s, ladies’ and combined clubs.

In February, 1981, five Rotarians in the Sydney area, all of whom had been involved in the formation of Probus clubs, got together to share their experiences with the intention of preparing some basic information for Rotary clubs contemplating the formation of Probus clubs. They were District 9680 Past Governor R.S. (Bob) Burnett, Rotary Club of Turramurra; Past President W.A. (Bill) Jacobs, Rotary Club of Hunters Hill, Chairman of the District 9680 Probus Committee; C.A. (Cec) Short, Rotary Club of Turramurra and member of the District 9680 Committee; District 9690 Past Governor J.W. (Jim) Stanford, Rotary Club of Padstow; and C.S. (Cliff) Johnstone, Rotary Club of Sydney, Chairman of the District 9750 Probus Committee.

Based on the growth of Probus in the region from two to 44 clubs in a comparatively short time, they predicted a rapid escalation in the future growth rate. Reporting their findings to the governors of the three districts centred on the Sydney metropolitan and near country areas, they recommended the provision of an information service to Rotary clubs throughout the region. The result was the Probus Information Centre (now the Probus Centre — South Pacific Inc.), which was established by authority of all the district governors in the region to assist with planning and promotion to ensure steady growth and maximum efficiency in the use of Rotary resources. 

Extracted from District 9830 Brief History of Probus. 
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