Mr Jim Corr: “A Travelling Man”

Wednesday 26th April 2017:  Mr Jim Corr:  “A Travelling Man”

John and Jim
Probus President, John McCandless. holds the mic for Jim Corr, “Travelling Man”

Although born in Dungannon and currently living in Gortin  Jim Corr is a member of the Navajo tribe. How this came about was just part of a fascinating life story.   At the age of 24 Jim packed in school teaching and went to America where he soon found himself living and working among Native Americans.  First with the Sioux and Apache he later won the respect of the Navajo people and became an adopted member of the tribe.   He spoke with feeling about Native American traditions and how in many parts of the United States, tribes struggle for acceptance. From there he travelled on and worked some time as cowboy, carrying a pistol and spending 6 – 8 hours a day in the saddle.  After a spell as rodeo rider he enrolled in Pittsburg University where he took a Master’s degree in Special Education.   Back in the classroom he found himself working with adolescents who exhibited, what educationalists call, “challenging behaviour”.   To instil a sense of self-worth and self-discipline in his pupils he arranged challenging expeditions for them – taking them to sea in tall ships as part of the crew.  Recruited by a shipping company that owned three schooners he spent the next 30 years running an education programme which won several awards from the American Sail Training Association.   A talented banjo player who in his youth played with Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers, he ended his session with the Probus club by performing a couple of his own songs inspired by his experiences as a travelling man.

Mr Frank Loughran: Omagh Credit Union

Wednesday 19 April 2017:  Mr Frank Loughran:   Omagh Credit Union

Loughran McCandless
Guest speaker Frank Loughran with Probus President, John McCandless

Mr Loughran was introduced by club member, Desmond Smart, as Chairman of the Board, an unpaid post because Omagh Credit Union is a non-profit making mutual society in which the only members benefit.   To become a member a person must reside with in a 6 mile radius of Omagh and have at least £1.00 to invest.  The CU prides itself on being non-political, non-sectarian and open to all.   From early beginnings in which in which members deposited a few pounds and borrowed a few shillings, Omagh Credit Union now has some 14,000 members who between them have invested over £26 million. Currently it has £14 million out on loan and reserves of £7 million.   Asked if the CU got back all the money it let out on loan, Mr Loughran stated it got back over 98.5%,  bad debt in Omagh being less than it is in other Credit unions in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.    While the interest rate for borrowers may be higher than it is in the High Street banks, interest rates for saver are also better.    Mr Loughran also outlined the various Life Insurances policies open to CU investors.  Unfortunately  all those present for his talk were over the age of 55  – too old to take advantage of the best schemes available.

Dr. John Moore: The South West College

Wednesday 12 April 2017: Dr John Moore: The South West College

Southwest College
Dr John Moore [Left] with Probus President, John McCandless

The South West College was formed by the amalgamation of the Dungannon, Enniskillen and Omagh Colleges of Further Education and today includes smaller campuses in Cookstown and Strabane.   Within the wider context of the educational sector the College is positioned between Second and Third Level education, giving it a large interface with students from all parts of the community.    In the academic year 2015 – 16 it had an enrolment of 27,000 students and employed 880 Lecturers and Support Staff  in either full-time or part-time capacities.   A rating of  “Outstanding”  by the Department of Education’s Training and Inspectorate, is evidence that it is not only serving its students well but is also spending it annual budget of £45 million wisely.  Since some of this money comes from the EU, the College has understandable concerns about the implications of Brexit.  Dr Moore’s presentation focused on courses available in  the College’s Four Departments, namely Professional Services, Social Sciences, Technology and Training.  He emphasised the importance attached of STEM subjects [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] in meeting the needs of young people and the future needs of the economy.   A series of slides and photographs illustrated the College’s links with countries in Europe, North America and Asia.  His illuminating talk  prompted many questions and earned him a well deserved vote of thanks from Probus President, John McCandless.

Annual Inter-Club Quiz

Wednesday 5 April 2017: Annual Inter-Club Quiz

Inter-club Quiz
Teams competing in the Inter-Club Quiz

The annual Inter-Club Quiz was contested by 11 teams from Probus Clubs in Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Londonderry and Omagh The quiz master was Joseph Cummings from Omagh and after 8 rounds, each with 8 questions, Londonderry Men’s Probus Club emerged as the winners of the James Eakin Shield for the fourth successive year. The Bert McCrory Cup for the best Omagh team was won by Omagh Ladies Probus. The event took place in Omagh Golf Club. Visitors were treated to tea, coffee and refreshments on arrival. The morning also included a successful raffle with prizes donated by the members of Omagh Probus Clubs.