Photos and commentary by John and Carol Hethrington.
At the first ever Beaver Valley Probus meeting, the organizers were expecting the usual number of 80, maybe 100 people to show up at the Thornbury Community Centre. We had over 250 turn up, each paying $50 to join, so financially we never looked back. The success of our club is the number and variety of our Activity Groups that were created. At that first meeting, large sheets of paper were posted on the walls for people to sign up. Each sheet had the name of a different activity; Book Club, Wood Carving, Skiing, Bridge, etc. Unfortunately, I raised my hand and asked, "What about a Garden Group"? The sheet went up and I was told that Carol and I would have to run it.
Each year in March we signed up between 100 and 120 members. The internet was so slow in those days that Carol had to send out notices to the group in lots of 20 not to jam up the system. One of the secrets of our success was the variety of the 4 or 5 tours we organized each summer and how we financed them. We would organize the costs for the bus with a toilet, the "Tims" on board, the entry fee to the garden, the lunch at a local church and set the price based on say 25 participants at say $40 per person to cover all the costs. We never lost money on a tour. The proof of the success of this arrangement is we still have some money left on the Probus books 7 years after to group folded, that we draw on for special garden presentations to which all Probus members are invited. After 12 years, Carol and I thought it was time to pass the torch. It was picked up for another year, but since then no one has volunteered to carry on. The interest in gardening is still out there. Our local 599 Garden Club has over 85 members, and many them are Probus members who have joined.