Half-century of community service

By Christine McKay

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Alf Knight (left) and John Bradley, founding members of the Woodville Lions Club, helped celebrate the 50th year of the club's charter last Saturday. Photo / Christine McKay
Alf Knight (left) and John Bradley, founding members of the Woodville Lions Club, helped celebrate the 50th year of the club's charter last Saturday. Photo / Christine McKay

Woodville Lions might be a quiet little group, but they've battled above their weight for much of their 50 years.

"We're pretty proud of all we've achieved," Warren Jones, the communications co-ordinator for the club, told the Dannevirke News. After receiving its charter in 1966, the club celebrated 50 years of service to the community on Saturday.

But for two of the club's founding members, Alf Knight and John Bradley, their connection goes back beyond their 50 years in Lions.

"It started 80 years ago when we were working alongside each other at Papatawa School," Mr Bradley said.

"Fifty years ago when the Pahiatua Lions sponsored Woodville's charter I was drawn to the club because of the words of Melvin Jones, the founder of Lions International 100 years ago.

He said we should gather because collectively we can do more than we can as individuals.

Woodville Lions is a very strong club, with very like-minded members."

Since 1967 Woodville Lions have raised and donated more than $750,000 to a diverse range of local and regional charities and institutions and are the longest-serving supporters of the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter service.

Since Lions Club member Clive Boyden began organising the annual Coast to Coast ride in 1992 from Himatangi Beach to Woodville and on to Akitio Beach, the event has raised more than $160,000 for the rescue helicopter service.

Another iconic Woodville Lions fundraiser was the Manawatu Gorge track and tunnel walk which had raised $300,000 for the Arohanui Hospice in Palmerston North and other charities.

But, for Mr Bradley, his biggest reward has been working with and for young people.
"Working with Birthright and welfare kids has been one of my strong points," he said.

"It's been a great eye-opener and it works both ways as they educate us, too.

"I'm still keen to be involved and hope to be around with the club for a long time. "

Becoming a founding member of Woodville Lions was a way for Mr Knight to connect with his community.

"I'd spent most of my time in Dannevirke and with the pipe band, but when I left I wanted to be involved with Woodville and the Lions Club was the way.

"In those early days Keith Morris and I built toilets in Fountaine Square as part of a Lions project and we also developed some sections when the council was building houses here."

Both Mr Bradley and Mr Knight are past presidents of the club, describing themselves as "recycled presidents", who have held the position more than once.

Mr Boyden has been a Woodville Lions Club member for 38 years and has been the driver of many fundraising projects, including the 1991 Lions 1 plate scheme.

"It was at the time when personalised plates were just beginning and we advertised the plate through a simple raffle throughout New Zealand," he said.

"The scheme raised $11,300 for Sight First. But I was absolutely panicked in the run up to the raffle as the spend had been $2500. I asked myself what have I done? Our projects up to then had just a $100 spend."

Now that first plate from 25 years ago has been returned to Woodville Lions and was proudly displayed on a Massey 135 tractor as part of the 50th celebrations.

On Saturday Woodville Lions unveiled their latest contribution to their community, an electric barbecue in Fountaine Square. A toddlers' play park is being designed to celebrate the Lions International centenary in 2017.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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