Gwen gets life membership

Mid Canterbury Friendship Clubs area representative Errol Kingsbury and Mid Canterbury Ladies Friendship Club president Julie Begg with new club life member Gwen Clucas.

Gwen Clucas has been surprised with a Life Membership of the Mid Canterbury Ladies Friendship Club.

It was presented to her last week by Mid Canterbury area representative Errol Kingsbury and club president Julie Begg at the club’s monthly meeting at the Hotel Ashburton.

Gwen, who has just finished three years helping with the BOOST reading programme at Netherby School, has spent nearly two decades at the club since moving to Ashburton in 2003.

She had retired from full-time teaching in Christchurch, but with no affiliation to the city, except for her job, she moved south to be near family.

In Ashburton Gwen took up relieving work at Tinwald and Allenton schools, and for a short time was acting principal at Tinwald School; she had previously been principal at Waipara School too.

Gwen signed up for the then-called Mid Canterbury Ladies Probus Club.

It was a good way to get to know people, especially for those new to the area, she said.

Such was its popularity among professional/business people, there was a waiting list to join.

Gwen went on to serve on the committee before becoming president from 2008 to 2009.

At the time there was a 140-strong membership, she said.

Gwen, who is the chairperson of the St Stephen’s Church Close Trust, was also Mid Canterbury Friendship Clubs area representative for three years and is the club’s current Quiz Master.

The club was popular among retired professionals and business owners, hence its name, Probus.

It was started in England as a non-fundraising arm of Rotary Club, she said.

However the use of the Probus name came under the spotlight while Gwen was president with Australian counterparts laying claim to the naming rights and trademarking the name.

The Mid Canterbury group then renamed but still offered its members the same services with social connections through friendships and fun, guest speakers and a variety of organised trips.

There are now four friendship clubs in the district, plus two at Geraldine.

The ladies club members get together at the Hotel Ashburton on the second Wednesday of each month, and have morning tea get togethers at Taste Cafe every third Wednesday.