Danum Probus, Doncaster 


Danum Probus Club is a Men’s Group based in Doncaster.  It came into being in 1979 when Doncaster Probus Club had a long waiting list and it was felt there was a need for another club in Doncaster, and so Danum was formed.  Unfortunately, Doncaster Probus Club went out of existence in 2014, so Danum is now the single Probus Club in the centre of Doncaster.

Danum Probus meets at Town Moor Golf Club, Doncaster, on the first and third Monday of the month commencing at 10am.  After the formal business is complete, there is a speaker at all meetings whose presentations last about an hour, after which members stay for a chat before departing.  Danum Probus is an active club.  There is a Crown Green Bowling Section which uses the greens at Armthorpe Community Centre.  In addition there are two lunches a year to which wives, partners and other guests are invited, two members only lunches, visits to theatres, and an annual holiday.

Danum welcome visitors who would like to come along with a view to becoming members, and any retired men who are interested will be made welcome.  The club has a smart/casual dress code for its meetings.  For more information ring 073951287859 or look on our own website where more detail is available .

On 5 January 2018 Danum Probus held their AGM and Officers elected were:

President: George Kirk
Vice President: John Brown
Hon. Secretary: David Allen
Hon. Treasurer: Rev. John Bird

The Programme for the rest 2018 and 2019 is:

3 September – Mike Storr – Masters of Mirth – The Sequel
17 September – Cancelled

19 September – Bowls Lunch at Branton Village Hall

John Gregory receiving the Singles Trophy from Bowls Captain, Peter Oldale

1 October – David Templeman – The Great Sheffield Deer Park
David’s subject was the Sheffield Deer Park, an area of land to the east of Sheffield which from Saxon times to well into the Medieval era was parkland containing deer and other game, originally without an enclosure, and then enclosed by the Normans. David gave a well explained presentation about the history and uses of the park, its name echoed in some present-day geographical features to the present time eg Parkway, which runs from the M1 to the city centre, and goes through the former deer park.
15 October – George Clarke – The Boer War
This was an excellent presentation by George Clarke. To the surprise of many of us present, we found out that there had been two Boer Wars, the first in 1880-1 and the second in 1899-1902. It is this second one which most of us think of as THE Boer War. But in the first Boer War, the British won which resulted in the Boers setting up their own territory in The Orange Free State and Transvaal. In the second war the British suffered some bad defeats, and the result was basically a draw. But in the General Election which followed months later in the UK, the Liberal Party came to power under Lloyd George, and gave in to most of the Boer demands, so the Afrikaners came into power and stayed their until the birth of Mandela’s Rainbow Nation.
18 October – Ladies’ and Guest’s Lunch
This was a very enjoyable occasion when over 60 members and guests enjoyed a splendid lunch at Ye Olde Bell at Barnby Moor.
5 November – Malcolm Walpole – In Search of the Jaguar
In a change to the advertised subject Malcolm went in “The Search for the Jaguar’. This was another of his excellent audio-visual presentations with the highlight being a Jaguar hunting, finding and killing a Brazilian crocodile in a river, and the trying to haul the carcass up the river bank.
19 November – Richard Wimpenny – Why Hitler?
Richard covered Hitler’s life and the events he was involved in or which triggered from his early life in Vienna before WWI until 1939. He told us about how Hitler aspired to be an artist in his youth when he did not have to work for his living, having inherited monies from his mother and father, both of whom died when he was young. The young Hitler served as a runner in WW1 and then began his political career in the chaos of Germany in the 1920’s, first trying for political power through violence, and later cunningly using the democratic system to obtain absolute power. Throughout this time he rode his luck, with eventual devastating consequences for Europe.
3 December – Gildersleve – The Silver Screen
17 December – MEMBERS LUNCH


7 January – Richard Bell – THE SAND HOUSE
In a change to the previously published programme, the Club met of Monday 7 January, when Richard Bell gave a presentation about “The Sand House”, a feature in Doncaster from the 1850’s until the Second World War. It was a mansion sized dwelling carved from sandstone and featured a network of tunnels decorated with carvings. It stood north east of Balby Bridge, the site now being occupied by a block of flats.

Taking office at the Annual General Meeting on January 21 were George Kirk as President, David Allen as Secretary and John Bird as Treasurer. Ordinary members of the committee are Arthur Kendrick, Graham Fletcher, Des Parks and Geoff Firth with activities organisers being ex officio members.

4 February – The Leader Brothers – MYSTERY BOX
On Monday 4 February we had the pleasure of welcoming the Leader Brothers with one of their “Mystery Boxes”. We spent a pleasant hour hearing about, looking at, and trying to fathom the use of and identity of a series of old “objects”.

18 February – Mike Atherton – MEDIC BEHIND THE LINES
Today we experienced the work of a Nursing Officer in the British Army with Mike Atherton. Mike comes from a military family, and spent almost the whole of his Army career in the Nursing Services. His tours of duty included the Falklands, Kuwait and Afghanistan, and he followed these experiences by imparting his knowledge to others as a Forces Nursing Training Officer. Since retiring from the Army, Mike has become an author and a speaker. When speaking, his enthusiasm for the subject really comes across.

4 March – Malcolm Johnson – 1000YEARS OF ENGLISH
Today Malcolm Johnson took us through “1000 Years of English”. This was a story of the continuing development of the language with special attention to the 60’s decade in each century. Events and people referred to included the authors Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens and the development of printing and the publishing of the King James Bible.

18 March -Dick Venables – DISASTER DETECTIVE
“The Disaster Detective” made one pause for thought. In his career in the Police Service, Dick Venables was involved in the recovery and identification of bodies from crashes, terrorist atrocities and natural disasters. These incidents included the Selby Rail Disaster, the London Bombings in 2007 and the Boxing Day tsunami in the Far East. Dick has also been involved in standardising procedures and latterly of training people for this harrowing work. This was an educational if sometimes dour presentation given by somebody with expertise and respect for the bereaved families and their loved ones remains.

Members and guests enjoyed the Spring Luncheon at Ye Olde Bell and Barnby Dun.

This was an entertaining look at refereeing in the Sunday Morning lower leagues. The presentation also featured video of incidents in professional games where the referee was punched, tripped up, pushed over and chased round the field by all the players from one side. This was a not to miss presentation.

Tony’s presentation was entitled “The history of the St. Leger, the World’s Oldest Classic Horserace. This was a fascinating account of the ups and downs of the race since its inception in 1776 until the present time. It started as what was called a sprint in the 18th century ie 2miles in one heat only, not about 4 miles in several heats in the same day as sued to be the case. And with coming of the railways, the race became very popular with trainers and spectators. 25 April – VISIT TO HARROGATE SPRING FLOWER SHOW

This Presentation was about getting to the Machu Pichu ruins on foot walking from Cusco in 4-5 days. Although the total distance of this hike was not huge (20 odd miles), the fact that it was done at altitude, much of it up and down not very level stairways, makes it quite an achievement. The effort involved in this well organised adventure was eased by having porters carry luggage and set up camps. This was a different insight into what one usually hears about Machu Pichu, and very welcome for that.

20 May – Neville Williams – YORKSHIRE WILDLIFE PARK
At our meeting on May 20, Neville Williams spoke about “The Yorkshire Wildlife Park”. Neville took us through the history of the Park, situated near Branton, beginning with Mrs Williams’ original idea, then buying the property in Branton which was a riding stable and small animal attraction at that time, followed by the gradual expansion to the present day. The Park got off to a good start, and then they acquired the lions from Romania, which provided a lot of publicity and further boosted attendances. The Park has developed with new collections of animals as well as being part of international breeding programmes.

3-7 June – Club Holiday at Slayley Hall, near Hexham
A group of about 40 members and guests, including guests from Tickhill and Bawtry Probus, enjoyed a short break at the luxurious Slayley Hall Hotel in Northumberland. On the way there, we had stops at Ripon and the superb City of Durham, and in the following days there were excursions to Lindisfarne and Alnwick, Hexham and Carlisle, and Barnard Castle and the Bowes Museum. And on the way home we had a stop at “Locomotion”, the Railway Museum at Shildon, near Darlington, where we were lucky enough to be given an impromptu guided tour featuring the steam engine Green Arrow, designed (Nigel Gresley) and built in Doncaster. Then, the President, George Kirk, thanked Chris Harris, the Danum Probus organiser, for all the work he had put in to organise the holiday.

Today we had the pleasure of meeting Nicola Fox of Doncaster Heritage Services. Nicola is a social historian based at Cusworth Hall, which is now a Social History Museum situated on the outskirts of Doncaster. Cusworth Hall started to come to prominence in the 17th century when the then medieval hall in Cusworth was purchased by Robert Wrightson. The Medieval Hall was demolished in about 1740 and a new residence built between 1740 and 1744, this being the basis of the present Cusworth Hall. Also in 1744, Robert Battie married Isabella Wrightson and took the name of Battie-Wrightson. Nicola detailed the steady rise in wealth and social status of the family and of all its various principal inhabitants. In the late 19th century and early 20th century money was spent unwisely, eventually resulting in the sale of all the Hall’s contents to raise death duties. It eventually becoming owned by the the then Doncaster Rural District Council. And now there has been a lot of restoration work both inside the Hall and outside on its now very popular gardens. This was an excellent presentation by Nicola, which we all enjoyed.

1 July – Neil McGregor – DONCASTER IN ART
Neil McGregor, also of Doncaster Museum Services was our speaker on July1 with “Doncaster in Art”. Neil talked about some of the paintings relating to Doncaster in the Art Gallery’s collection which are rarely on show, which depict the some of the villages around Doncaster. These can be compared with contemporary views taken from the same place which then indicate interesting old buildings which have now been demolished. He finished his talk with reference to the new museum and art gallery being built next to the Council House at the top of Chequer road.

Thirty Two members enjoyed an excellent lunch at Town Moow Golf Club today. This was a traditional three course lunch, individual choices having been made earlier from a menu giving a good choice on each course. At the end of this enjoyable meal, our President, George Kirk, informed members of the recent committee meeting. The main subject was the nominations of names for officers for next year. George reported that he would become Secretary for the next two years commencing at the beginning of January(subject of course to the agreement of the members at the next AGM. It was reported that John Brown had volunteered for the job of President, and this had been accepted. The committee had decided that since the post of Vice-President is vacant, John should fill it with immediate effect. The President asked the lunchtime gathering to vote John Brown into office, and there was unanimous support for this.

5 August- – David Townend – YORKSHIRE AIR AMBULANCE
Today our guest speaker was David Townend not Tracey Bull as advertised. David, who is is a volunteer with YAA, took us through its history, starting in 2000 with one second hand Russian helicopter to the present day with the purpose built headquarters at Nostell Priory and two new Airbus H145 helicopters. The helicopters are piloted by professional helicopter pilots and the para-medics are secondees from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. The event which really brought the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to the public’s attention was its transfer of Richard Hamilton to hospital after his near fatal crash at Elvington in 2008. There are now on average four calls a day for the YAA, but during the Grand Departe of the Tour de France it went up to about forty a day. After the talk David answered a series of questions, and everyone present enjoyed this informative and thought provoking presentation.

On August 19 our speaker was John Brown who is the current Vice-President of the Club. Before retirement, John was as a property surveyor by profession, and his talk was based on the memories of the many years he spent working in Doncaster and the surrounding area. After a brief history of his family firm, he outlined the many strands of knowledge needed to succeed as a surveyor, went on to tell us about related subjects which have a strong bearing on the work done in his profession such as finance and geology, and concluded with some examples of work done in the area. This was a fascinating insight into a subject which touches most of us when buying property.

2 September – Tony Cowley – VINTAGE MOTORCYCLES
An interesting talk from Tony Cowle, the star turn being a hundred year old motorbike which is still use for rallies

14 September – Philip Caine – BARROW TO BAGHDAD AND BACK
Philp’s presentation was an eyeopener. It was a biography of his professional life starting as a Hotel Chef, catering and cheffing on North Sea oil platforms, and project managing the setting up of military installations in Iraq for the American Army. Along the way he met a series of “characters”, one of whom may or may not have been KGB but who could organise private transport flights in and out of Baghdad.

7 October – Malcolm Frost – COCK O’THE NORTH
Today Malcolm Frost talked about the project to rebuild on of the iconic Gresley steam engines built at Doncaster. This was the Cock o’ the North, a very powerful engine built for the steep gradients on the line between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The presentation featured pictures of many of the original engineering drawings and also this that had been converted from Imperial to Metric scales so that the new construction would be able to use modern computer driven machinery.

21 October – Dave Adgar – THE BERLIN WALL
Dave Adgar, who in his spare time is Chairman of the Friends of Doncaster Museums, gave this very informative talk about life in the Old Wet berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It included the time before the Wall, but when belling was a divided city after World War 2. dave described how the City had been divided up between the Allies (some of them) and that the then USSR has not wanted France to be included, An d the only way that they were was by the British giving the French some of their allocated territory. Dave spoke from experience, having lived in the divided city when he was a teacher to the children of Births Forces based there. This gave the presentation a distinct ‘you were there feel’. This was a very interesting talk about a time when there was a very different political climate.

We held another enjoyable social occasion at Ye Old Bell Hotel at Barnby Moor. The hotel did us proud again with a splendid three course lunch for members, their partners and friends. We’re already looking forward to the Spring event.


Mike Burdis (retired Chief Superintendent of Police in South Yorkshire) made a very thought provoking presentation about the “Stephen Lawrence Enquiry”. After outlining the facts about the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Mike then went into the details of the police investigation which followed and the mistakes which were made. Many of the mistakes were apparently because of poor recording of the information gathered and lack of communication between the investigating officers. Mike noted that the Yorkshire Ripper enquiry had highlighted similar shortcomings and it had said that police forces should adhere to a strict protocol when faced with cases in which lots of information is gathered. It appeared that these lessons had either been forgotten or ignored during the Stephen Lawrence investigation.


The Speaker on Monday 4 November `Keith Lumley gave a presentation about the Normandy Landings which took place on 6 June 1944 entitled “Breaching the Beaches and Landings and Beyond”. This fascinating talk took us through the years of planning involved in the linvasion, not only the military operation itself, but also the huge amount of intelligence work done to wrong foot the Germans into thinking that the invasion would come at other locations. In addition to the invasion itself, Keith spoke about the Commanders, both military and political, on each side and how their own personalities had affected the result. He said that Eisenhower was selected as the Allied Supreme Commander not for his military virtues, but because he was a great diplomat who was able to get the “glory seekers” such as Patten and Montgomery to work together.

2 December – Stephen Parker – DRAX UP TO 2019
16 December – MEMBERS’ LUNCH –

3 February – Brian Downes – REMAP Doncaster Panel
2 March – Mick Burdis – CATCHING A SPY
6 April – Keith Lumley – FIREARMS AND FORENSICS
20 April – Sue Clifton – RSPB – THE BIRDS IN YOUR GARDEN
4 May – Pat McLaughlin – THE VIKINGS
18 May – Mike Ogden – HOTELS IN THE SKY