Throughout the COVID-19 health pandemic, there have been many examples of our communities responding to the exceptional circumstances to help those in need. Here, Omagh Men’s Probus Club shares its story.

Omagh Men’s Probus Club suspended all meetings and activities when the country went into lockdown at the end of March. There is little doubt that members miss their weekly meetings in the Golf Club on Wednesday mornings – not that anything very much ever happened beyond the enjoyment of each other’s company and occasional talks from visiting speakers. The club always had a “Telephone Tree” with which to get out urgent messages to members. During the lockdown the Telephone Tree became a “Pals List”, with each member placed in a group with 4 – 6 others, the requirement that members of each group would stay closely in touch with each other. Our President, Michael Cooney has taken an active interest in the activities of each group, sharing news via e-mail and the club website.

By these means the club has been able to keep in touch with its members to ensure that those who required help were being supported by family, friends and the wider community. Social contact between “Probians” was given an added dimension when the club started to hold ZOOM Meetings. These were held at the hour of Probus, being 10.30am on Wednesday mornings and were open to all. This encouraged members to download Zoom and install it on their computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. For some it was their first encounter with social media and all who were new to the medium were surprised by how easy it was. Regular “zoomers” included 101-year-old Bob Lingwood, always keen to tell us about the fortunes of his beloved Chelsea Football Club.

Zoom has provided opportunities to begin planning for a resumption of activities in the Autumn in the hope that the pandemic will have receded sufficiently by then to encourage members to come out again. In the meantime, our Telephone Tree and Pals List ensures that no-one ever feels cut off from their Probus friends.

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