At the first meeting of the new Probus year the new President Richard Wood of Bramley,welcomed two ladies to their initial meeting of their 41st year. The Worshipful the Mayor of Basingstoke & Deane, Cllr Diane Taylor, was their guest of honour. She was presented with cheque by Richard Wood as a contribution towards her charity appeal.
The speaker was round the world cyclist Barbara Cummings. Not one to sit at home and lose physical and mental resilience after being made redundant from the NHS, Barbara, from Old Basing, decided to retire in 2012 and embarked on what has become a series of long distance cycle rides.
Her thinking was very simple – going north was up hill while going south was down hill. With that simple philosophy she decided that her first long distance ride was down the east coast of America as it had a “Greenway” path from north to the south. With a stop off in Iceland she saw a sculpture put up by an American benefactor which claimed to have a similar one in Florida. That became a target – to see the one near Key West. That trip was 2,500 miles but had not been too difficult.
After that her cycling adventures multiplied with one from the Russian border near St Petersburg which took two months, and another across France from the east coast to the Mediterranean. A four months trip in Australia and New Zealand was completed by visiting Fiji and Hawaii. India was next, followed by North Africa.
In a few months Barbara will be tackling the USA Pacific coast, and like all her trips she travels alone. Never being concerned about being a single woman on a camp site she has been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers who have given her soap powder, a luminous watch so that she could see the time at night in her tent, given her lifts to a country’s border and even taken her into their homes with overnight accommodation.
She has now cycled in 24 countries and during that time only suffered three punctures, and that was on her east coast trip in USA. She has cycled on every continent except Antarctica but even that is planned for 2021.
She self finances all her trips but gives talks about what she has seen as a means of raising funds for two charities, Headway, where she is a trustee, and Asthma UK.
“The underlying ethos of providing an important avenue of welcome interest and stimulus for those in retirement applies today just as it did over forty years ago when the Probus Club of Basingstoke was formed.”
This was the view of the club’s outgoing President, Chris Perkins MVO, in his report to members of this social organisation for retired professional and business managers at its 40th Annual General Meeting on 27 June. It was held at Christ Church in Chineham which for many years hosted their speaker events.
Today the club meets at the Test Valley Golf club on the second Tuesday of most months with a guest speaker and lunch followed by some business discussions. There is also a social pub lunch every month and there are outings and visits during the year which include the wives and partners of members. The next formal visit, which had to be booked over a year ago, is to the Commandant’s Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in August.
Richard Wood, of Bramley, was installed as their new President by outgoing Secretary, Paul Flint, of Kempshott. Also retiring, after each had served for more than a decade, was Treasurer Alan May of Oakley and Outings Organiser, Tony Atchison, of Chineham. The newly appointed Secretary is Peter Hayes, along with Dr Jeff Grover as Treasurer, both from Bramley. David Wickens, a recent mover from Chineham to Newbury, was elected as Vice President while maintaining his role as the Programme Secretary being responsible for arranging the wide array of interesting guest speakers. Outgoing President, Chris Perkins MVO, of Kempshott, will now become the Outings Organiser while Alex Marianos, also a Bramley resident, continues as Dining Steward and Paul Flint continues in his role of Publicity Officer.
The first Probus Club was founded in 1965 in Caterham, Surrey, and in those days consisted of mainly retired members of Rotary. Today its members are from a wide background of professional and business managers as well as the military. There are Probus clubs in most towns with in excess of 180,000 members in UK and extends throughout the English speaking world.