Probus began in England when two Rotarians, independently and without knowledge of each other’s activities, persuaded their respective Rotary Clubs to establish local groups or clubs which would provide fellowship and intellectual stimulation for retired business and professional men.
The first, formed in 1965 by Fred Carnhill of the Rotary Club of Welwyn Gardens, Hertforshire, was called the Campus Club. The second, founded in 1966 by Harold Blanchard, Community Service Director of the Rotary Club of Caterham, Surrey, was named the Probus Club – for the “PRO” in “profession” and “BUS” in “business” – which also made up the Latin word for “honesty, integrity, virtue”.
The latter name was adopted, and “Probus” was recommended to Rotary Clubs by the Council of Rotary International in Britain as a valuable community service project.
Probus was introduced into New Zealand in 1974, and to Australia in 1976. The promotion through Rotary Clubs was very rapid; so much so that its membership is now far larger in size than that of Rotary Clubs in Australia and New Zealand.
Today, Probus in Australia and New Zealand is by far the largest integrated body of Probus Clubs in the world. At present, there is no affiliation between the Australian and New Zealand Clubs with other Clubs known to exist in the UK and other European countries, USA, Canada, Malaysia, India, Brazil, South Africa, Japan and possibly elsewhere. So we have no idea what the total world membership of Probus may be.
We do know that there are about 100 Clubs in the UK which are loosely related, but are not bonded together as we are by the Probus Centre – South Pacific Inc.