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40th Anniversary Lunch

Forty years young and going from strength to strength.

The Probus organisation began internationally in the late 1960’s as a luncheon club for retired, or semi-retired, PROfessional and BUSinessmen. Probus Secundus, as its name infers, was the second such club to be formed in Harpenden.

Secundus recently celebrated the fortieth anniversary of its foundation with a luxurious lunch at Shendish Manor enjoyed by seventy members, partners and widows of former members. Chairman Chris Bunton ceremoniously cut an anniversary cake.

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Guest of honour was 95-year-old founder member, George Whitehead. Following a splendid meal, George, belying his advancing years, enriched, enlightened and amused those present with anecdotes of Secundus over the last forty years – in his own words “Where have all those years gone? I don’t know.”

He spoke about the difficulty of finding good speakers. “I recall criticising the poor quality of speakers, and, after being invited to speak myself, realised that sometimes it is better to keep quiet!”


Catering was also a challenge, with meals being “prepared by two lady volunteers who operated from a kitchen hardly bigger than a large cupboard.” Nevertheless, “we still built up our numbers.”

In George’s own words: “Since those early days there have been many changes. A luncheon club has transformed itself into a very diversified social gathering of friends. There are still monthly lunches and speakers but much, much more as well. There are usually four main outings a year to interesting places – or at least there were until this year when the government closed all the destinations. Groups of members meet regularly to take part in quizzes, coffee mornings, walking tours, discussion groups where we solve the World’s problems and finance groups where we try to get rich.


We even organise golf, although no-one from here is likely to win the Open. So much has been achieved in these 40 years and much more will change for the better in the next 40. Pilates and Bridge have made a start and other events will certainly follow. Progress won’t end here as long as we keep the management style that has led us so well over the last 40 years.”

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George urged members not to “forget our Probus Ladies who have their own group with their own events.” On a topical note he remarked that “The female sex is on a roll – look what they have achieved in tennis golf, broadcasting and other national events. They have recently made large strides in football and cricket – even boxing and rugby are no longer the preserve of males. So go to it ladies!”

He concluded with a glimpse of the future: “Wouldn’t it be marvellous if Probus Secundus was organising an outing to the moon in 40 years’ time? I do hope so and, you know, it might even happen if Covid doesn’t wipe us all out first.”

The headline on its website ( proclaims that the club is “The Antidote to Ageing”. There is no better example of that than the ever-young George Whitehead. Well-done George – you are an inspiration to us all!”

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