ON THE GO: North Gold Coast Probus speaker co-ordinator Heather Schiavi, with president Michele Walmsley and guest Kevin Heisner, aged care project officer at Gold Coast Primary Health Network at their most recent meeting.
ON THE GO: North Gold Coast Probus speaker co-ordinator Heather Schiavi, with president Michele Walmsley and guest Kevin Heisner, aged care project officer at Gold Coast Primary Health Network at their most recent meeting. Alison Houston

Friendship, laughter and learning all part of Probus life

FRIENDSHIP, getting out and enjoying life; that's what members of one of the newest Probus clubs, North Gold Coast, say Probus is all about.

Probus, the social arm of Rotary, is open to anyone retired or semi-retired, is a fast-growing community, with 130,000 members across Australia and New Zealand.

The North Gold Coast club was formed about three years ago by David and Lorraine Moyes, having found other clubs in the area were full.

Not all clubs are created equal - with some single sex, rather than combined like North Gold Coast, which also has a younger membership age than many, averaging just 68, and takes a more laidback approach to meeting procedures, dispensing quickly with the formalities.

There's certainly a buzz, a lot of laughter, chatter and easy-going companionship evident as I enter the club's beautiful new venue at the Links, Hope Island Resort.

Some are there as couples, others individually.

They come from all walks of life, current and former - a merchant banker, teacher, other professionals, shop owners, charity workers, admin staff, a celebrant, housewives; and accents from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Italy and South Africa meld.

Probus itself says it offers "a new lease on life".

North Coast president Michele Walmsley said getting out and socialising with others, learning from guest speakers at the monthly meetings, exchanging information and taking part in a range of other activities from lunches, to local cruises, book club to movie-going, shows and beyond was fun, and good for keeping both mind and body active.

In arranging activities, the group is mindful of people's different tastes, mobility, health, computer literacy and cash flow.

A group of North Gold Coast members are currently lunching their way through the district's restaurants, trying cuisines from different cultures.

Another group is forming to enjoy walks and morning tea together.

They also have offers for members who want to take part in a Melbourne Cup cruise, Adelaide and Margret River or Fiji cruises.

Publicity officer Paula Frewin said it was totally up to the individual whether they wanted to do a little or a lot, which can depend on whether they travel much (with some members away for months at a time) or, like herself, still work part-time.

She said while there was nothing "cliquey", it was nice for members to discover they had things in common or lived near each other, and choose to go out in pairs or small friendship groups.

"Especially if you're single, when you're older, it can be very difficult to go out into the world and do things, but if you find a group, a community you feel confident with, you grow with it," Paula said.

North Gold Coast Probus is currently on a membership drive, but will cap numbers at 70 so they don't lose that close, "village", "community" or "family" environment, as different members describe it.

You can try up to two meetings and two outings before joining, and there is a small annual membership and one-off joining fee.

To find out more about North Gold Coast Probus, call Michele on 0418 900 387 or, to find your nearest club, go to www.probussouthpacific.org, or call 1300 630 488 or 02 9689 0200.


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