A gathering of the Otatara Combined Friendship Club at East Pier at the end of May celebrated 25 years of fellowship, friendship and fun.
"We had a superb lunch where everyone, including some past presidents who have retired from the club, had a wonderful time living up to the club ethos," says club secretary Nola Oxnam.
The club started off as Otatara Combined Probus Club in 1997. In 2016, for legal reasons, Probus New Zealand changed its name to Friendship New Zealand Incorporated and the club's name was changed to Otatara Combined Friendship Club.
"Such clubs were originally formed in the UK and became one of Rotary's most successful community service projects throughout the English speaking world," Nola says.
A meeting was convened in February 1997 to explore the need for another combined Probus Club in Taradale. After several meetings it was decided to go ahead and hold the first official meeting later that month.
Betty Wilson, who was the first secretary of the club, said it was rather daunting starting up a club which they didn't know much about.
"But with the help of Rotary personnel and the Probus handbook, the organising committee worked together to lay the foundations for establishing a very successful club," Nola says.
Of the original 37 foundation members there are still seven active members taking part in club activities.
"The aims of the club are to provide regular meetings for retired and semi-retired men and women who appreciate meeting others of similar levels of interest, enjoy hearing addresses by guest speakers on topical subjects and enjoy activities arranged to provide opportunities for fellowship, friendship, and social interaction."
A management committee organises the club's affairs. Activities for members, some weekly or monthly or at various times, include the walking group, a variety of games, coffee mornings, Operatunity concerts, $5 roast nights at the RSA, Sunday Scrummy Lunch, ten pin bowling, trips to gardens and places of interest. There is also a barbecue in January, mid-year Christmas lunch in June and Christmas lunch in December.
Nola says while some clubs are closing due to lack of numbers, they are having no trouble attracting new members.
"We have 89 members to date and numbers are capped at 100. Visitors or intending members may attend a maximum total of three club functions as paying guests, then they are expected to apply for membership and become paid members of the club."
The lunch was presided over by Tony Livingston who said it had been a great privilege for him to be president during this anniversary year.
"The social contact our friendship club brings us means we can connect with many wonderful people and enjoy good company."
■ Meetings are held at the Taradale RSA Club, 156 Gloucester St, Taradale, on the second Tuesday of each month from 9.30am-11am, including morning tea at 10.30am. For more information about the Otatara Combined Friendship Club contact Nola on 027 376 4362.