IMTAC Conference Omagh

Wednesday 29 March 2017: IMTAC [Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee]

Alex Cameron
Club Member, Alex Cameron who represented PROBUS at the IMTAC Conference

On Wednesday 29 March 2017 the club met as usual in the Golf Glub at 10.30 am.   Having dealt with regular business the meeting closed at 11.00 am to allow members to move on to the Silverbirch Hotel  to participate in an IMTAC Conference starting at 11.30 am.   The event brought together a wide range of persons from the Western Area to discuss mobility and transport issues.  Those present were representative of a broad spectrum of persons for whom using public transport is a challenge.   The conference embraced not just older people, [well represented by Probus], but younger persons confined to wheel chairs, those who used walking aids, those with vision impairment and significant hearing loss as well as those who had difficulty communicating.   All present had issues with using busses, taxis and trains and generally getting about independently.  Following words of welcome and an introduction from IMTAC Chairperson, Max O’Brien, the conference divided into groups to discuss a number of key questions including:

  • Do services including public and community transport and taxis meet your requirements?
  • Are pavements and crossings accessible?
  • Do you use a car?  Do you have issues with parking and the Blue Badge?
  • Are you happy with the service and levels of assistance provided?   What improvements would you like to see?

Some 15 members of the club attended the conference and all found it informative, raising their awareness of issues around public transport that they had not previously considered.


Patrick Bogues: My sister Louise

Wednesday 22 March 2017: Patrick Bogues: My sister, Louise

P Bogues
Probus President, John McCandless with guest speaker, Patrick Bogues

Many of those present at the meeting knew Patrick’s sister, Louise.     Until recently she was a familiar figure around Omagh, but who now resides in Slieve-Na-Mon care home,  It was Louise’s learning disability which drew Patrick to organisations committed to the implementation of the United Nations declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, being that  Disabled persons have the right to economic and social security and to a decent level of living.  From 1995 to 2005 Patrick was Chairman of the “Community Active Partnership”  which raised just under £2 million for disabled persons in the Sperrin and Lakeland Trust Area and maintained workshops in Lisnaskea and Strathroy. This provided Louise and many others with a place in the community through employment, training and recreational activities such as bowls and Irish Dancing.  From 2000 – 2006 Patrick was a Board Director of USEL [Ulster Supported Employment Ltd] which had under its wing  the “Workshop for the Blind” in Belfast and a number of other similar schemes.  Today, working out of impressive facilities in Cambrai Street Belfast, USEL workers produce a range of marketable products chief among which are “Slumberin” mattresses and a bespoke range of kit and carry bags.  As Chairman of USEL from 2006 to 2012 Patrick was pleased to have the opportunity to speak about an organisation which makes a huge but often unseen contribution to the lives of disabled people in our Province.  USEL has a local office in Anderson House, Omagh and provides supported employment in the Omagh Enterprise Centre.

Rachel Ludlow-Williams: Sustainable Transport

Wednesday 15 March 2017: Rachel Ludlow-Williams: Sustainable Transport

Guest speaker, Rachel Ludlow-Williams with Probus President, John McCandless

Rachel was accompanied by Imelda Mc Carron, Fermanagh & Omagh District Council Recreation Officer and by Sustrans volunteers Liam Mc Grath, Paddy Largy and Lisa Stewart. She explained that she was the volunteer Co-ordinator for Sustrans and was responsible for some 4,000 volunteers, within 220 groups and with 40.000 supporters.

She is also involved in the National Cycling Network with 191 of 1180 schools in Northern Ireland involved. Other initiatives include Belfast Bike Life that involved 7 million journeys in 2015 on 19 kilometres of cycle path. Most of this cycle pathway is constructed on former railway land, canals and parkland.

Much interest was generated in the Probus members present with many questions being asked including the practice of some groups of cycling four abreast and the construction of cycle pathways along the new roads e.g. A5. Rachel emphasised that Sustrans were looking forward to working with the local Council and people of Omagh district to help improve existing and support proposed new local networks for cyclists and walkers. They are also looking for more volunteers in the area and she can be contacted by telephone  at 02890434569 or by e-mail at

Rachel and her friends were thanked by Club President John Mc Candless for a very interesting talk



Business Meeting: Probus Rally Omagh 2017

Wednesday 8 March 2017; Business Meeting: Probus Rally Omagh 2017

Rally Committee
Members of the Rally Committee [L – R] Albert Allen, Chairman – Kenneth Collins, President – John McCandless, Ron Burch, Desmond Smart and Jim McBain
President, John McCandless, opened the meeting by referring to the death of Drew Clements and invited Harman Scott to lead the tribute to a long standing and faithful member of the club.  Harman recalled their work together as civil engineers in County Hall from 1961 until retirement and spoke movingly of the times they had shared along the way.  Others contributed with their own reminiscences, which, while often humorous, were tinged with sadness that a good friend and colleague had been take from them.

Following the usual business of roll call, minutes, correspondence, club finance and welfare report, the President introduced a discussion on arrangements for the Annual Inter-Club Quiz scheduled for Wednesday 5 April.   It was hoped that this would be as well supported in 2017 as it had been in previous years.  The main business of the meeting was to receive a progress report on the All-Ireland Probus Rally being hosted by the Probus Clubs of Omagh in the Silverbirch Hotel on Wednesday, 17th and Thursday, 18th May 2017.  This was presented by Kenneth Collins, Chairman of the Rally Steering Committee, supported by committee members Jim McBain, Desmond Smart, Albert Allen and Ron Burch.  After discussion members were happy that everything was on course for a successful event.


Kevin Harper: Cancer Research UK

Wednesday 1 March 2017: Kevin Harper: Cancer Research UK

John Kevin
President John McCandless with guest speaker Kevin Harper

Around 9.000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Northern Ireland every year. Although survival rates are improving the disease still claims the lives of around 4,100 people annually.  Cancer Research UK works closely with Queens’s University in Belfast, the N I Health Trusts and Pharmaceutical Companies.  The charity has a focus group in Omagh and also a second hand shop and contributes significantly to cancer research in Northern Ireland.  81% of income is spent on research and 19% on administration. Kevin discussed current areas of research by using plastic eggs to demonstrate DNA building blocks, two types of drinks to demonstrate unreliable perceptions and paper strips to identify “super tasters”. This novel approach served to hold the attention of his audience. He also talked about a promising new approach to diagnosis called Stampede based on work on hormones. He was thanked for his extremely interesting talk by member Alastair Orr.