Button history at Cowell Probus

BUTTONS: Cowell Probus Club secretary Barb Shearer and president Mike Talbot with August guest speaker Kylie Martens from the Franklin Harbour Button Club.
BUTTONS: Cowell Probus Club secretary Barb Shearer and president Mike Talbot with August guest speaker Kylie Martens from the Franklin Harbour Button Club.

Probus Combined Club of Cowell August meeting guest speaker was Kylie Martens of the Commercial Hotel Cowell speaking on the work and activities of the Button Club of Cowell.

The Franklin Harbour Button Club was formed in 1977 after local identity the late Colin Turner on holidays near Broken Hill and the locals were talking about their buttons.    

Mr Turner got as much information as he could and brought the idea back to Cowell where he was the Barman at the Franklin Harbour Hotel.

It started out as a men’s only club for social parties.

Women were allowed as members a few years after.

Initially, the club was designed to be fines only and 50 percent collected would go to charity and the other 50 percent to club functions.

Friday night raffles were started in 1979 to raise more money.  This is now Wednesday nights.

In the five years from December 1980 to 1985, $18,796 was donated to local organisations and another $21,000 to outside charities.

The club no longer donate to outside charities, all donations stay within the community.

In the 1980s and 1990s membership reached 150 with a waiting list especially if you wanted a favourite number.

There has been a variety of buttons over the years, the blue metal one was ordered in 1990.

In 2006, the Button Club had a change of name to Franklin Harbour Button Club and a change of venue to the Commercial Hotel.  

A competition to design the new Button, this currently the bright green one and it was to represent our Harbour.

The club is currently 90 members strong, they have two picnics a year as well as a social function.

In late November, the club hosts a Christmas picnic with Santa and face painting for the kids.

In late May, it is the annual general meeting which is a great family day.

For this year’s social function, the club is trying to organize a quiz night.

Some of the rules that have been in since the start of the club include:

  • Buttons to be carried in your right hand pocket and ladies without pockets may carry in their purse.
  • On Fridays, no buttons are allowed and must drink with your left hand.
  • Anyone who is a member of the Button Club can challenge to see your button and if you do not have it, it is a 20 cent fine.  If you do have it, the challenger pays 20 cents.
  • If you are caught drinking on Fridays with your right hand, it is also a 20 cent fine.

There are a lot of local charities and community groups who have benefitted from the Button Club.

In the early days, this including St Paul’s kindy, neighbourhood watch, knitting club, show society, red cross, guide dogs, cranio-facial unit, St. John’s Ambulance, Lucky Bay pontoon, Cowell physical culture club, Cemetery Committee, National Trust, Rifle Club and many more.

More recently the swimming club, Cowell Area school, Air Sea Rescue, Cowell Institute, early childhood centre, Lions Club, Pyro Technic Night, aged care, boat ramp Committee, RSL, sports complex and skate park have received donations

Membership is $20 per year and the club has currently donated $100,000 in just over 10 years.

The Button Club is a very important part of the Cowell community and it is hoped it continues to grow strong.