Address By Our President Richard Wood

Richard Wood

We are told that the “national hibernation” is beginning to come to an end. However, government advice is such that it was clear some time ago that we would not be able to gather together for our usual AGM on June 25th. As a result, I proposed that we should postpone the AGM until June 2021 and that the existing executive committee including myself as President should remain in post until that date and this has been accepted by yourselves.

Due to domestic circumstance beyond my control I have not been as active as I would have wished and I feel very privileged to have had such conscientious support from the membership. The executive committee has been very active and the initiative to set up social calling by phone during social distancing has enabled us to keep in touch with members, also the committee arranged informal meetings using Zoom which have been useful to me. The quiz organised by Paul Miller was tested by the committee, was found entertaining and its further extension to members is under consideration.

Under normal circumstance we would have had the benefit of a worthwhile and entertaining programme of events including talks during lunch, bookings for which are expertly arranged many months ahead by David Wickens, also the feasibility of group visits continues to be investigated. Arrangements for a ladies’ lunch at Oakley Hall was very professionally organised by Rob Hopkins and Richard Stettner but sadly had to be cancelled with a view to resurrecting it next year. These matters take time and I would like to express my sincere thanks on behalf of all of us for the efforts expended.

Lastly, I am grateful for the support and comradeship from David Wickens who’s always been there when I needed him and also to Paul Flint whose advice has always been welcome.

Richard Wood


Probus Keeps In Touch

It’s a good job the coronavirus did not occur twenty or even ten years ago. Just image the difficulty of keeping in touch with each other. Yes, we had a telephone; most homes had a landline and many people had mobiles but not like the number today. And of course the Royal Mail had a reliable postal service. I don’t know if the telegram service still operated had it been necessary to contact someone in an emergency.

Today it’s different. How times have changed. Technology has come to our rescue. Virtually everyone has a mobile phone and a large majority a home computer with an internet connection. This latter aspect is the main reason that today, although being physically isolated, we can keep in contact, verbally with a phone, in written form with the immediacy of emails and visually with the latest wiz bang thing the use of WhatsApp on our mobile phone or Zoom or Microsoft’s Meet type of technology. As the BBC often says when a brand name is mentioned that other products are also available.

It’s a sign of embracing today’s times but the use of technology is how the members of the Probus Club of Basingstoke keep in touch both individually and in groups. Today every member has some sort of computer type device that has an internet connection so the use of sending out group emails is common practice. But Probus is a social organisation and the usual business style meetings, the many social gatherings and trips are missed during this lockdown period of our lives. It was considered that it was essential that some form of regular contact was necessary.

A clever design of a phone contact system was devised which meant that each member of the committee had a rotating nominated list of members to call each week.  The plan is working excellently so far and it is hoped that by the early part of July each committee member would have spoken to every member.

On a communal basis the use of Zoom has been so successful that rather than the freely available forty minutes transmission time it was soon decided to buy a year’s subscription which means the system is available for any amount of time over the next 12 months. What made this an easy decision was the ability to conduct the formal committee meetings following the agenda just as though the meeting took place around a table. The members have been involved with general meetings via Zoom and also with a quiz afternoon with several spouses helping the men in their lives achieve enhanced results. More such quizzes are planned. Investigations are being followed of using this technology to provide a speaker to replace the ones that are booked at our monthly lunch meetings.

Probus Club members may be retired and perhaps some have the occasional physical problem but to a man they are bright eyed and bushy tailed. They have all risen magnificently during these unprecedented times to prove they can assimilate new things. They are certainly not technophobes.