Loyal club man happy making tea

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 05:00 12/06/2014
timaru waimate probus club lindon aitken
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TEA SERVICE: Lindon Aitken has been making the tea at Waimate Probus Club meetings for 30 years and is one of the club's longest serving members.

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Lindon Aitken, affectionately known as "Lin" in his home town of Waimate, has lived there for 30 years and knows how to make a great cup of tea.

While he isn't a founding member of the Waimate Probus Club, he joined in its first year of existence and has performed a vital role ever since.

The club, for active retired men, celebrates its 30th anniversary today at the Criterion Hotel.

The 87-year-old Aitken, who moved from Dunedin to Waimate in 1984 when he retired, has been making the tea and setting up the club's meeting area at the Waimate Town & Country Club for three decades.

"I got talked into it by Bill Veitch, he started the club here," he said.

"I wanted to get to know people here, I was a stranger in a new town."

Aitken, who has served as the club's secretary and has been on its committee in the past, delights in the friendships he's forged over the years.

"I enjoy the fellowship. You meet a lot of people, I've made the tea for all of them since I started and I've done it ever since. I enjoy being in the background."

Some of the closest friends he made were Allan Kelly and Roy Simon, who he would go fishing with regularly in the past, as well as Trevor Bathgate.

He recalls them as being "good fishing cobbers".

In Aitken's opinion, not much has changed at the club in 30 years.

Its members still go on regular bus trips, with jaunts to Mt Studholme, Meyers Pass, Totara Estate and Clarks Mill being some of his personal favourites.

"I enjoy getting together and going on trips. If I join a club I follow through. I'll do anything they want me to, except get up and talk."

He recalls a speaker at one of the group's meetings that "really stuck out" in his mind.

"That was Marie White. She tried to teach us landscape painting ... when she left, we all thought we could do it," he said.

Aitken was honoured for his 25 years of service to the club in 2009, but isn't a man who likes to be fussed over.

"There's lots of others who have done more than me," he said.

PROBUS MARKS 30 YEARS in WAIMATE

Little has changed since the establishment of the Waimate Probus Club, as members celebrate its 30th anniversary today.

A function is being held at the Criterion Hotel in Waimate, where there will be speeches and formal presentations.

The club held its first meeting on June 21, 1984, in Waimate, with the aim of bringing together retired men from around the area.

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Three decades later it's still going strong, and a women's group has also been established.

Waimate Probus Club president Alex Norton, who has been a member for 23 years, said the club was purely for its members to enjoy life in their later years.

"It's not a service club, we don't raise money, it's solely for active retirees to have fun and enjoy fellowship.

"We have speakers coming in and things like golf and bowls days. We also go on day trips to places like Clarks Mill and Totara Estate further south and we've also been to the aircraft museum in Ashburton."

However, for a lot of members, the best part is having a catch up over a cup of tea.

The club, which Norton said is a spinoff of local Rotary clubs, is one of many throughout New Zealand, Australia and the wider Pacific region.

While Probus has individual men's and ladies' clubs in Waimate, some towns, such as Fairlie, have combined clubs.

Its motto, "Tomorrow's Vision for Active Retirees", perfectly sums up the club's activities, according to Norton.

The Waimate club currently has 54 members, a number that's remained about the same since its inception.

"We have a static membership. Because we're all retired and because of our age there are people who drop out because of health reasons, while others pass on."

He said while the club does lose members fairly regularly, newly retired men often join up to balance the numbers out.

"Hopefully we can inspire people to have fun. I believe the social side of things when you're retired is very important," Norton said.

- The Timaru Herald

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