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Access denied – club votes to keep men-only status

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Access denied - club votes to keep men-only status

SUGAR and spice and all things nice proved not to be the right ingredients for a Moffat club last week, when they voted to remain men-only.

A long standing admirer of Moffat Probus Club, resident Suzanne Storm was keen to join their ranks but there was one issue . . . they operated a strict men-only membership.

Undeterred she put herself forward for membership, in turn sparking a debate which culminated in a vote held last Wednesday.

Members gathered at Moffat House Hotel where the pros and cons of female membership were debated before a secret ballot took place.

Asked ‘Since the formation of the club in 1980-81, the Moffat and District Probus Club has been a men-only club. Does the membership wish that our club continues with men-only status? Yes or no’ – 16 to 13 voted to remain a men’s club, thus excluding Suzanne.

Reacting to the decision, she said: “I wanted to join as I noticed during my three visits – I was only allowed three – that they needed a reporter, and most were not keen to do these type of jobs, secretarial duties etc.

“I thought as an ex medical secretary I would be able to help.

“Also, I liked the speakers they had every time and even introduced a couple to speak to them.”

She added: “Their constitution was worded that anyone could join as long as they fulfilled the criteria.

“I was okay that a vote had to be taken, but as most members had no objection I was very pleased; then a member called for another vote and again it was okay for me to join.

“Then a member insisted on an special general meeting and rallied his troops and that’s when it was decided no ladies.

“I am not happy that I cannot be a member. I’m irritated that so many referendums were taken until they got the answer they wanted.”

But Suzanne wasn’t the only one saddened by the result of the vote and current president Safa Ash-Kuri plans to exit the group following the outcome.

He said: “As a member of the Moffat and District Probus Club since 2001, a vice president since September 2016 and president since 2017, I do not agree with the decision to prevent women from joining our club.

“However, as I have been elected to serve as president until September, I have decided to continue my service until the end of my designated period, ending on September 6 2018.

“This decision was not made lightly. Many members and non-members convinced me not to resign, as was my original intention.”

He added: “As I see it, club members now have three options: accept the status quo, establish a new mixed club as per Kelso, Galashiels, Selkirk and others, or form a new women’s Probus Club, if there is sufficient demand.

“Whatever decision is made, I am prepared to facilitate the way forward.”