Social Events

A group of three members plan a variety of social activities in advance of the forth coming year with the aim of identifying a cross section of interests for the members, wives and friends.

A typical year would be a selection from:

  • National Trust Properties and Gardens
  • Historical Abbeys and Monasteries
  • Manufacturing Plants Car / Heavy Duty Equipment
  • Museums
  • Theatres
  • Cathedrals
  • Canal / River Trips
  • Local Industry
  • Christmas Events

We aim to make the visits as interesting as possible and to share our experience in good company over a cordial lunch.

The Club also organise a five night holiday, in the U K in the autumn. Members take their own cars and are free to spend the day as they wish. A suggested itinerary is optional but dinner is always taken together in the evening, when shared activities and good conversation are guaranteed.


The Probus year (February 2023 to end of January 2024) saw a wide variety of events being offered but with some challenges on filling coach parties due to having fewer members than in previous years; this resulted in more trips using our own cars.  A summary of the social events for the year is set out below:

Probus Afternoon Tea

Once again Richard Fenby brightened the winter gloom by organising a delightful afternoon tea at Knutsford Golf Club in February which was well attended by members and old friends.

Bridgewater Hall Concert

In February we had a very successful trip, organised by Richard Cussons, to an evening concert at the Bridgewater Hall. This was first time that we had visited this venue.  We listened to the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra performing Khachaturian’s violin concerto (Jennifer Pike soloist) and Tchaikovsky’s symphony no.4.  This was one of the major events in Bridgewater Hall’s calendar.

Gladstone Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Bobby Sanyal organised a most enjoyable coach trip in April to the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, and then to the Potteries Museum and art gallery in Hanley in the afternoon.

Wollerton Old Hall Garden

This was a return visit to Wollerton Old Hall Garden.  This time in we went in May which gave us an opportunity for us to see this beautiful garden in a different season from our August visit in the previous year.

Summer Lunch

In June we had our traditional summer lunch at the Deanwater Hotel which was well supported, as usual, and ably organised by our Dining Secretary, Roy Conchie.

Ordsall Hall & Gardens

Also in June, a group visited an often overlooked attraction in the region: the Tudor splendour of Ordsall Hall.  This excellent event was ably led by Colin Hardman and, sadly, the late David Taylor.  The trip was very well received by all who took part.

Concorde at Manchester Airport

In July, an enthusiastic group, led by David Hartshorn, visited the Concorde aircraft at Runway Visitor Park, one of the best known attractions in the area.  The aircraft “Alpha Charlie” was considered to be the flagship aircraft of this famous fleet and the visit exceeded the group’s expectations.

RHS Bridgewater Gardens

In October, despite some appalling weather, a group led by John Patterson, visited the new RHS Bridgewater gardens near Worsley.  Two knowledgeable guides made our visit very enjoyable by showing us around the many attractive features of the walled garden, paradise garden and kitchen garden.

Christmas Lunch

In December we had our traditional Christmas lunch at Knutsford Golf Club which was a new venue for us.  This was well supported by members and wives and it was a very convivial experience.  Ably arranged, of course, by Roy Conchie.

Tatton Evening Christmas Concert & Mansion Tour

As usual we celebrated the arrival of Christmas with a visit in December to Tatton Mansion to see the spectacular decorations followed by a Carol Concert in the Tenants Hall. This was organised by Roy Conchie.

Royal Exchange Theatre Visit

In January 2024, which was prior to the end of our Probus year, John Patterson took a group to the Royal Exchange in Manchester to see their Christmas production: Noel Coward’s “Brief Encounter”.  This was the first visit by Probus Rex to this theatre and this excellent production was enthusiastically supported by members.

John Patterson, Social Events Secretary


The Social Events Programme for 2022 included a number of attractive options. The year kicked off with a coach trip to the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays organised by Richard Fenby, to see a matinee performance of the classic comedy “Private Lives” on 16th February, which proved very successful. This was followed by an own-car guided tour on 9th March of the remarkable Macclesfield Silk Museum, organised by Jerry Bentley, which was fascinating and very well-presented. It was interesting that so few Probus members had ever been to this eye-opening historic venue.

Jerry also organised a very popular trip to Robinson’s Brewery in Stockport on 12th April. Despite the fact that they are currently in the process of moving their premises out of their historic building in the town centre, the trip was a great success. Robinson’s has invested heavily in computer-controlled brewing, which has no doubt helped them weather the Covid lockdown. Their beers remain as popular as ever!

On May 6th, Richard Fenby put on another popular event in the Social Calendar: our deluxe Afternoon Tea held at Knutsford Golf Club. Following Covid, it was good to see so many Members and Wives enjoying each others’ company.

June at Knutsford Rex Probus Club wouldn’t be complete without attending our Summer Lunch, which this year was ably organised by Roy Conchie, who is our new Dining Secretary, at Deanwater Hotel on June 15th. It was, as ever, a most pleasurable and relaxed occasion.

The Social programme was slightly reduced in the Autumn due to Jerry’s family Illness, but Richard Fenby was able to mount an own-car guided afternoon tour of one of the best gardens in England – Wollerton Old Hall Garden on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border – on August 23rd. Despite some plant-distress caused by the record-breaking temperatures earlier in July, the garden lived up to its expectations, not least because of excellent cream tea we enjoyed at the conclusion! We are intending to return to Wollerton again in 2023, earlier in the season, to see a totally different palette of plants.

We always celebrate Winter with our visit to Tatton Park in December to see the lavish Christmas decorations in the Mansion, followed by the wonderful seasonal Carol Concert in the Tenants Hall. This year it was held in the evening of December 9th, and was organised by Roy Conchie. It never fails to put us well and truly into the spirit of Christmas!

The Club’s Christmas Lunch was held on 14th December at the ever-popular Statham Lodge Hotel near Lymm, where Roy Conchie had organised an excellent seasonal Lunch for Members, Partners and Widows. As with the Summer Lunch, this always excels itself as a thoroughly enjoyable social affair.

On 5th January, just prior to the February end to our Probus Year, Bruce Snowden put on a Matinee coach trip to The Lowry Theatre once again, this time to see “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”, which had collected excellent reviews when it premiered in London.

For the forthcoming Probus Year, your Social Coordinator will be John Patterson, whom I warmly welcome. He will be overseeing an excellent series of events, mounted by a number of members, which I’m sure you will support.

Richard Fenby Acting Social Coordinator


Report on Social Events Programme 2021

Looking back on the year 2021 turned out to be like 2020, a year in which all our plans were overtaken by greater events.

With most venues closed for more than half of the year and the Club not meeting on a face-to-face basis until July, it was only late in the autumn that a limited number of social events were able to take place. Even then it was felt prudent to limit outings to local venues accessible to members using their own cars.

Though the traditional Club Summer lunch and the Club Holiday were again casualties of the pandemic at the time of writing this report there are some signs of a return to more normal times with the annual Christmas events, the Club Christmas lunch and the Tatton Hall Christmas concert both going ahead and reasonably well supported by the membership.

Looking forward to 2022 there is of course still great uncertainty but unlike this time last year most venues are now fully open for business and taking bookings so we have been able to plan a programme of events whilst still bearing in mind the risk that our plans may need to be changed at short notice.

Events proposed for the 2022 including various outings by car or coach, a Club Holiday and both summer and Christmas lunches. The activities scheduled up to the end of June are already booked and the remainder of the events are in the planning stage. However, with the present Covid situation I do not intend to make any further bookings until we are able to see what the first few months of 2022 have in store for us.

Jerry Bentley Social Secretary

Report on Social Events Programme 2020

I expect that I will not be alone in reporting that 2020 was a year when all our plans came to nought.

Thanks to the support of a number of members, by early in March we had a very promising draft programme of events in place for 2020 with a number of events in the detailed planning stage. We had our theatre trip to the Royal Exchange already booked and our trip around the Amazon warehouse fully subscribed. However, none of these outings eventually took place for obvious reasons.

Looking forward into 2021 it is impossible to predict when the government regulations will allow us to resume our social activities or indeed when our members will feel comfortable doing so. On this basis it has been decided not to consider any events before June 2021.

We have two booked events which have been carried forward from 2020 into 2021, these being the Summer Lunch and the Christmas Lunch. It seems to me that the Summer Lunch, scheduled for early in June must be at very serious risk of cancellation but we do not need to take that action just yet.

From July onwards we have tried to put together a flexible programme of events which are mainly using “own cars”, do not require large numbers to be viable and are fairly local. We have also selected events that could be cancelled at relatively short notice with minimal financial cost should this be necessary.

With all of the proposed venues closed at present and not taking bookings, detailed planning will however have to wait till the situation becomes somewhat clearer.

One further decision we have made is that the holiday in Lincolnshire, which was to have been carried forward from 2020, will not be practicable in 2021.  It is also the case that Lincolnshire may be too far away for our members to contemplate in 2022. The holiday involves a great deal of detailed planning including visits to check on venues, arranging of tours etc. It also involves a commitment from members who are going on the holiday quite early in the year. In these uncertain times any planning for a holiday in 2022 cannot really start before the autumn of this year.

In summary we have made the assumption that in the first half of the year we are unlikely to be able to hold any social events. However, let us hope that at some time later in the year some form of normality may return and should this be the case, then whenever this happens we intend to be ready to resume the very important social life of the Club.

Jerry Bentley

Social Secretary

Report on Social Events Programme 2019

The year commenced with a Deluxe Afternoon Tea held in January at Brasserie Blanc in Knutsford, organised by Richard Fenby. This event, which was designed to appeal particularly to the ladies, was well-attended, and 35 of us sat down to a delicious array of fresh sandwiches, scones, madeleines and cakes. We are repeating this on 29th January 2019, because it brightens-up what can be a rather dull time of year.

In February, 18 members and wives boarded a coach for the Lowry Centre, also arranged by Richard, where we enjoyed a nice dinner at Café Rouge, followed by a delightful performance of “Brief Encounter”. Later that month we visited Roberts Bakery for a fascinating tour of this marvel of automated bread production. So many members and wives signed-up that Brian Williams had to organise a second trip in October!

Mike Bailey conducted 27 of us on an excellent coach tour of the impressive Etihad Stadium in April, followed by lunch and a delightful concert at The Bridgewater Hall in central Manchester. The Club’s Summer Lunch was also held successfully at the Deanwater Hotel in June.

In July, Jim Flett led 33 of us on an excellent coach trip, on a very scenic ride around Yorkshire and Lancashire in gloriously sunny weather, to visit the Ribblehead Viaduct of the famous Settle and Carlisle Railway, where they saw a steam-hauled train cross the viaduct (though the early arrival of the train was a surprise to some!) with a good lunch at a hotel in Appleby, a lovely old Cumbrian market town. A bonus was a hilarious talk given in the 16th Century Moot Hall by a past mayor of Appleby.

Richard organised a visit to Gawsworth Hall Open-air Theatre in July, for an Evening with Michael Portillo, his second at this venue, which was as funny as ever. Michael spoke for an hour on his life in politics and as then an entertainer, mainly on television. After a short break, he spent another half hour responding to questions from the audience, answering with both good humour and political skill. 

September is the month in which traditionally we hold our Probus Holiday, and in 2018 we were blessed with more sunny weather for our stay at The Principal Hotel in York, an ideal 4* location for a car-free centre from which many of the city’s famous attractions could conveniently be visited on foot. The food at the hotel was excellent. Richard Fenby and Brian Williams had organised an exclusive guided tour of The Minster, a lovely “Cruise on the Ouse” with Lunch, and a Guided Walking Tour of the Historic Centre of York. Members also visited the Shambles, the National Railway Museum, Jorvick Viking Centre, Fairfax House and walked the City Walls, amongst many other destinations. On the Wednesday, our member Barri Dodgson, an accomplished organist, was permitted to play the organ in the Chapel of the west wing of Castle Howard, and the following day, in a Methodist Church. Some of the group joined him to listen to his recital. The weather also held fair on the last day for Mike and Judy Hargreaves’ walk, with eight members and wives, in the grounds of nearby Beningborough Hall, with an excellent lunch in the sun in the National Trust Café there.

The Club History Book, last updated for our 40th Anniversary in 2008, was brought fully up-to-date as a Golden Jubilee version, by a small sub-committee led by President Dick Warwick, and was republished for the occasion of our 50th birthday on 18th October.

We celebrated our 50th Birthday with a lunch at the Courtyard Hotel on 18th October, where 89 members, wives and widows enjoyed a three-course meal. A highlight was the free wine supplied for each table, for which the Committee had raided the Club’s coffers, in proper recognition of the importance of this milestone! Celebratory speeches were made after the lunch by our Chairman and our President, and then by the President of Knutsford Rotary Club, Mr. Tom Dickerson, who also proposed a toast to Knutsford Rex Probus Club. Our President then presented a copy of our Golden Jubilee book to The Presidents of Knutsford Rotary Club and Tatton Probus Club, and to all of our widows. It was felt that on this occasion, the premises were rather cold. While the food was nice, the overall standard of service we received was not as good as at comparable alternative locations, such as Statham Lodge.

We closed the year, as is now customary, with our Christmas Lunch, held again in the excellent Statham Lodge, and by a visit organised by Richard Fenby to “Tatton at Christmas”, where 50 members, wives, widows and friends enjoyed a tour of the lavishly-decorated Mansion, a glass of winter punch, a lovely programme of festive music by The Northern Chamber Orchestra and the young voices of the outstanding choir of St Nicholas Catholic School in Northwich.

Richard Fenby