Omagh Men’s Probus Club A.G.M. 2020

Meeting of Wednesday 15 January 2020
Annual General Meeting

Club Officers 2020  Front row [L – R] Hugh Ward, 2nd Vice-President, Michael Cooney, President 2020, Oliver Loughran, Past President;   Back Row [L – R] Alastair, Orr, Secretary, Sam Bullock, Treasurer, Albert Allen Assistant Treasurer. ,

Omagh Men’s Probus Club held its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 15 January in Omagh Golf Club with 23 Probians present.   Members were welcomed by Oliver Loughran who conducted the business of his last meeting as President with his usual efficiency and good-humour. After the minutes of the 2019 AGM had been read, club Treasurer, Albert Allen, presented his accounts for the calendar year 2019: these showed a healthy balance, obviating the need for any increase in the annual subscription.   The secretary’s report, delivered by Alastair Orr, took the form of a review of the year, highlighting significant events such as the Inter-Club Quiz in April and the Christmas Luncheon.
Out-going President, Oliver Loughran, offered sincere thanks to all who had supported him during his year in office before placing the Presidential Chain on the shoulders of Michael Cooney and inviting him to take the chair and conduct the election of officers for 2020. Hugh Ward was confirmed as 1st Vice-President and Felim O’Neill elected as 2nd Vice-President, which means the club can look forward with confidence to the next three years; Hugh will follow Michael into the Chair in 2021 and Felim in 2022.

 

Men’s Probus New Year Message

Meeting of Wednesday 8 January 2020
Speaker: Rev Eleanor Hayden Topic “New Year Message”

Probus President, Oliver Loughran with Rev Eleanor Hayden

Rev Eleanor was welcomed by Club President, Oliver Loughran, and thanked for coming at very short notice after Rev Sean Hanily had apologised on Monday for his inability to come and bring members a New Year Message.  In her capacity as minister of Omagh Methodist Church and an active member of Omagh Churches’ Forum, Rev Eleanor is well known and widely respected in the community.   She began by referring to the New Year message from the Right Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, who challenged people in 2020 to reach out to those around them – to people we often fail to notice in the daily round, such as the shop assistant, the person in the queue at the Post Office, the elderly person alone in the café.   She echoed his call for re-engagement with those around us and shared his view that a phone call, a text or a letter could be a changing factor in the life of some alone and lonely.   Reading from St Matthew’s gospel Rev Eleanor illustrated how Jesus reached out to the friendless as he passed along.   Jesus may have said to his disciples “Follow me” but to the rest of us he says, “Let me journey with you”.   Her message to members was simple; we are all journeying through life and as we pass along, we have opportunities to engage with those around us in ways which say, “You are important – you are not alone.”

New Year Reflection at Ladies’ Probus

As is traditional in the meeting calendar for the Probus Club, a member of the local clergy is asked to bring to club members a reflection for the new year. On Thursday past, the speaker at the Ladies’ Probus meeting was Rev Jonathan Cowan, minister of Mountjoy & Drumlegagh Presbyterian Churches. He began by reminding members that, twenty years ago, we were anticipating the millennium bug and we were asked to reflect on just how accurate our projections for the new millennium had been.

Members were encouraged to LOOK BACK over, not just the past year, but over the previous decade or two and to think about the mixture of good and bad days which had been experienced. Everyone should have at least one good thing to remember and for which to be thankful. Above all, God’s goodness and faithfulness should not be forgotten. Next facet of reflection is to LOOK AROUND and be mindful that we are interdependent and to be thankful for all who help in any way; and then to ask ourselves “who could we help or befriend by showing love, support and compassion?” LOOK IN to our own lives and critically examine ourselves and those resolutions which are not often kept was the third aspect of reflection. The concept of “one-degree shifts” encouraged members to think about small changes which can make a big difference if continued. Psalm 121 encourages people to LOOK UP to the hills and also to God. So often people walk about with heads down and, in so doing, can miss what is all around and find complaints come more readily than thankfulness. Finally, members were encouraged to LOOK FORWARD to what the new year has to offer. CS Lewis, in Chronicles of Narnia number 7, reminds his readers that “… every chapter is better than the one before”. Life is to be viewed as an adventure and we should trust the unknown future to the all-knowing God. So encouraged, members should look forward to all that 2020 has to offer individuals and club members. The thanks of members were expressed by Mary Keane. The next meeting on 6th February will focus on security issues and scams.

 

Christmas Lunch

Meeting of Wednesday 4 December 2019
Christmas Lunch at the Mellon Country Inn

Christmas Lunch in the Pearl River Suite, Mellon Country Inn

On Wednesday 4th December members of Omagh Men’s Probus Club enjoyed a sumptuous Christmas Lunch in the Mellon Country Inn.   As is the custom widows of former members were invited as guests, as were the Presidents of Ladies Probus and Rotary, Miss Audrey Hodge and Mr John Bimson.   On arrival guests were treated to a glass of Prosecco while they circulated, greeted old friends and admired the festive decorations.   Grace before the meal was said by Miss Audrey Hodge and proceedings got under way with the snap of Christmas Crackers and lively conversation.   The raffle table was generously laden with gifts provided by Club members with the proceeds of £270.00 going to Charity. After lunch the President welcomed a musical ensemble from St Eugene’s Band which provided a programme of seasonal songs and melodies.   A most pleasant afternoon ended with votes of thanks from guests and good wishes all round for a cheerful Christmas and a happy healthy New Year, with thoughts for those who unable to make the lunch .

MIchael Cooney “Grave Matters”

Meeting of Wednesday 27 November 2019
Speaker; Michael Cooney, Probus Vice-President. Topic: “Grave Matters”

Probus Vice-President, Michael Cooney [on the right] with Probus President, Oliver Loughran 

Having made a superb job of arranging a programme of speakers throughout the year, Michael filled the last slot in the 2019 calendar himself.   The title of his talk was a play on words as he shared with his fellow Probians fascinating snippets of information gleaned on guided tours of Glassnevin cemetery in Dublin and Belfast City Cemetery.   In the 19th century both Belfast and Dublin grew rapidly as people moved into the cities in the wake of the Irish famine, drawn by need to escape rural poverty and the lure of paid employment in factories. Death rates were high, and cemeteries were soon overflowing. At times things were so bad that corpses were laid on the surface of the ground and simply covered with earth.  The City Cemetery is thought to contain over a quarter of a million bodies, many in unmarked graves. In Dublin there are some 30.000 Celtic crosses dating from the 1860’s.  Michael illustrated his talk with some 20 photographs of headstones grand and modest, each with a story about the person they were erected to commemorate.  These included a memorial to Samuel Scott, a 15-year-old lad who fell to his death from the gantry in Harland and Wolff during the building of the Titanic.  Another is to Richard Kane, Grand Master of the Orange Order and a fluent Irish Speaker.   Rinty Monaghan who died in 1984 was the undefeated world flyweight boxing champion. In Glassnevin an elaborate headstone in the form of an angel sheltering four little ones beneath its wings marks the resting place of a mother and her four children poisoned by eating sewage-contaminated mussels.   These and many more in the same vein, all added up to an surprisingly engrossing bit of social history.   Michael was thanked for his talk by Probus Honorary President, Bob Lingwood.

Ann Donaghy OH & PCC

Meeting of Wednesday 20 November 2019
Speaker; Ann Donaghy. Assistant Director Western Health Care Trust
Topic: Update on Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex [OH&PCC]

Mrs Ann Donaghy with Probus President, Oliver Loughran

The Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland. The aim from the outset was to bring together under one roof all the services which previously had been scattered in various locations around the town.   All were in need of improved facilities and the new hospital has achieved that.   Mrs Donaghy listed all the services now operating from the new building, starting with four GP Practices and associated Treatment Rooms.   In addition, there is a full range of support services including Radiology, a CT Scanner with room for an MRI Scanner when money becomes available.   Members were keen to acknowledge the excellence of the arrangements for Out-Patients and those being cared for in the Rehabilitation Unit.   There were compliments about the new Pharmacy and Café.   It was of no surprise to those present that following an inspection by the Department of Health, the hospital was given the highest rating.   Plans for the future focus on integrating the services available in OH&PCC and SWA – the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen – to provide total care for people living in the west without the need for referrals to hospitals outside the region.   Mrs Donaghy’s presentation gave rise to many questions and a lively discussion ensued.   She was thanked for a fascination insight into the work of the new hospital by Probus President, Oliver Loughran.

Aiden Quinn: My Life and Times

Meeting of Wednesday 13 November 2019
Speaker: Club Member Aiden Quinn – My life and times

Aiden Quinn [Left] with Probus President, Oliver Loughran
Aiden’s family home was in the townland of Drumfad, two fields away from the President’s Grant’s historic homestead near Ballygawley. He attended Killeshil Primary School and Omagh Tech before progressing to Loughry Agricultural College in Cookstown. On a visit to Balmoral show in 1963 he was recruited by Fullwood’s who had a stand demonstrating the latest in milking machines. This was the start of a lifetime engagement in the milk industry which led to him setting up his own business in the fitting and maintenance of dairy parlours. Aiden illustrated his talk with slides which showed how milking technology has evolved in the past 50 years. Starting from the time when a bucket plant was installed in the byre, he showed how things had moved on to Herringbone parlours capable of milking large herds of dairy cattle. During his career Aiden did work in France where he fitted out a Goat Milking Parlour and in Saudi Arabia where he installed a Camel Milking Parlour. Today dairy farmers are installing Robot Milking Machines and monitoring the health and wellbeing of each cow using bluetooth technology. Throughout his talk Aiden made constant reference to the loving support he had had from his wife Jean, to whom he accredited much of business success. He was thanked for an engaging and informative talk by Probian Felim O’Neill.

Rotary President addresses November Meeting

Rotary President addresses Annual General Meeting
The AGM of the Club on Thursday 7th November in the Library was well attended. Mr John Robson, Rotary Club Liaison Officer, chaired the election of officers for 2020. The following were elected; President, Audrey Hodge, Vice-President, Margaret Cummings, Treasurer, Pamela McClelland, Assistant, Marjorie Greening, Secretary, Hazel Richards, Press Secretary, Anne McBain, Health and Safety Officer, Lisa Bullick and Pastoral Care, Cate McCrory and Margaret Scott.
The speaker was Mr John Bimson, President of Omagh Rotary Club, who took as his topic “A 50 year journey though houses we have lived in”. John gave a fascinating insight into “his journey”, from infancy in Newport, Monmouthshire, to childhood years in Yorkshire, to University life in Liverpool and to Northern Ireland where he met his wife Joan. Together they moved to Chorley, near Preston to a property built in the 1860’s with ample space for his love of gardening and being outdoors.
Their most life-changing move was to Wellfield House, Berwickshire, in the Scottish Borders. The property dated from 1750 and had been remodelled in 1904. Following extensive renovations John and Joan were approached by the tourist board in nearby Kelso to build on their love of entertaining and accept paying guests in their luxury country home. John vividly recalled many humorous stories from this time. Joan shared with the meeting letters of appreciation from visitors from all over the world. Judging by the comments, guests were very well entertained indeed, enjoying Edwardian Breakfasts lasting well into the day as well as large dinner parties.
Their present home in Newtownstewart is more restful but they continue to enjoy life to the full and continue to enjoy contributing to community life.

Rotary President, John Bimson,with outgoing President, Zoe Reid

Sean Fitzgerald, Small Boat Surveying

Wednesday 06 November 2019
Speaker, Sean Fitzgerald. Topic: Small Boat Surveys

Sean Fitzgerald [left] with Probus President, Oliver Loughran

Sean Fitzgerald is captain of a Stena ferry operating on the Irish Sea.   Approaching retirement as a Senior Master he undertook a further course of study to become a qualified ship surveyor.   Today he runs his own business [JMF Survey] specialising in small boat surveys.   Sean compared what he does to buying a house. Having seen a property few people would proceed to purchase without a survey.  The same applies to boats;  the cruisers that ply Lough Erne can range in price from £20k to £400k and require a pre-purchase survey to get insurance. Without insurance a boat owner cannot get a berth in a marina and may even be debarred from certain waterways.   Being drunk in charge of a boat is punishable by fines of up to £20k and 2 year’s imprisonment.   To allow a full inspection of the hull, a boat can only be surveyed when out of the water, this being only one of a long list of structures, fixtures and fittings that form part of each survey. Sean also does work for marine insurance companies, surveying boats following collisions and accidents to assess the damage.  More information can be found on the company website https://jmfsurvey.com   He was thanked for his very interesting talk by Probian boat owner, Michael Cooney.