Stanhope Lions Club ready to celebrate 50th anniversary

By Liz Mellino

The Stanhope Lions Clubs is celebrating its biggest achievement to date next month, its 50th anniversary since formation.

Formed in March, 1969, with 27 members, the club was a welcome addition to the Stanhope community.

Despite numbers continuing to grow over the years, it seems an ageing population and shrinking community has slowly taken its toll on numbers.

Now with only eight current Lions, the club is gearing up for its milestone and is hoping to celebrate with the many past members who have come through the club.

‘‘We’ve had 140 Lions go through the club over the years and we want to contact as many of them as we can,’’ secretary Allan McGrath said.

‘‘I joined in March, 1981. I was the 42nd member of the club when I joined and now we’re down to eight.’’

Established by Melvin Jones in 1916, Lions Clubs International is the biggest service organisation in the world with more than 1.7 million members in 190 countries around the world.

Mr McGrath said he joined the club 38 years ago for the social side, and to give back and support others in the community.

‘‘There’s a social side of it, it’s people helping people in all walks of life,’’ he said.

‘‘When you see people together and everybody doing something it’s a marvellous atmosphere and it creates a lot of relationships ... you’ve always got friends, you make friends right through the country.’’

Lions Clubs International has seven objectives which guide members’ daily practices based on creating, promoting, funding, assisting, uniting, providing and encouraging positive outcomes throughout the wider community

Over the past 50 years, the Stanhope Lions Club has worked on a number of major fundraisers and community projects based on objectives, including selling handmade cubby houses, yearly auctions, Youth of the Year awards and Junior Public Speaker.

The club has raised between $5000 and $7000 each year for hundreds of organisations, not just in Stanhope but Australiawide.

While many have been rewarding, Mr McGrath said the most worthwhile experience was providing a Hart Walker to a young, local girl in need.

‘‘That is one of the biggest achievements when I look back that stands out to me ... that was about six or seven years ago now but unfortunately that little girl has passed on,’’ he said.

‘‘If you want to know what it’s like imagine seeing a little child all crippled like that and all of a sudden she can stand up with this Hart Walker and walk a few steps across the room, it makes doing this sort of work worthwhile.’’

Mr McGrath said the club was always open to new members, and encouraged locals to consider joining the group.

Currently meeting twice a month to plan its anniversary celebrations, he said the club was hoping to establish a regular dinner meeting and a separate social meeting each month in the future.

‘‘We’re looking for new members all the time but we find it very hard, unfortunately like a lot of service clubs our age is getting bigger ... when I first joined the average age would have been mid 30s to 50s, now you’re looking at mid-70s,’’ Mr McGrath said.

‘‘A lot of clubs are the same ... there are older people that are interested however they’re getting fewer because they’re too old.’’

With sights set on the 50th anniversary, Mr McGrath said the club was trying to get in contact with as many past members as it could.

He said the club would love to see all past members at the celebration evening on May 25 at the Stanhope Bowls Club.

‘‘We would love to have 100 past members there ... we used to have a lot of fun nights, dress-up night and social cricket matches and so we would love to get our past members all together.’’

If you were a former member of the Stanhope Lions Club or you know of someone who was a member, you can phone president Avis Weller on 58546383 or secretary Allan McGrath on 58253542. Mail can be sent to the Stanhope Lions Club, Box 105, Stanhope 3623.