‘Devastated’ Probus to fold after 21 years

Ilkeston Women's Probus folds
Ilkeston Women's Probus folds

It’s the end of the road for Ilkeston and District Ladies Probus Club which is reluctantly folding after making its mark in the local community since its inception in June 1993.

Stalwart founder members Audrey Wheatley who currently holds office as president and Pearl Dunkley, a past president and secretary, say that they are devastated at the decline of a once flourishing community asset.

“When we set up our Ladies Probus Club 21 years ago we had 60 members and a waiting list in place for those eager to join us, said Mrs Dunkley.

“ Our first meetings under the leadership of the club’s inaugural president, the late Margaret Derbyshire, took place at the Risley Park Inn.

“ After a year at that venue we took up permanent residency at the Co-op Banqueting Suite in the town and flourished there until its decline a few years ago, took us on a slippery slope, she said.

“For the past few years we have been based at the Queens Counsel in the town, but membership has been rapidly depleted,” she added

Mrs Wheatley said: “ The decision to close was taken with a heavy heart. The facilities we need to accommodate our ladies haven’t been suitable and despite a continued search for a more appropriate venue we have met numerous stumbling blocks and so a we have decided to close down.”

During its 21 years, Ilkeston Ladies Probus has championed numerous good causes raising thousands for charity and providing vital equipment such as a nebuliser and a dialysis machine for Ilkeston hospital.

Fifteen presidents including six of them who have held the office on two occasions, have proudly worn the ceremonial jewel of office which was first presented to the club by Ilkeston Rotary as a welcoming present.

Long-serving member Jill Brown who joined the Ladies Probus Club six months after its inception said: “Nobody amongst our current membership was willing to take on the responsibilities of the club’s important roles such as president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and speaker finder.

“ The club has been unable to attract new younger members and that has been a defining factor in its demise,”she said.