Lions' fundraising efforts remembered

By Erika Venter

The Stratford Lions Club on numerous occasions joined hands with other clubs to raise funds for specific projects, including in 1994 for a colonoscope for then Stratford Hospital.

A committee was formed by the Stratford, Eltham, Kaponga, Toko and Inglewood clubs with a minimum target of $50,000. The campaign raised $85,000 through a telephone appeal, which enabled the purchase of additional equipment for the colonoscope.

In 2003 Stratford, Eltham and Toko Lions again combined for a monster auction to raise funds, for a hi-low bath for the new Hospice in New Plymouth.

"The goods donated ranged from a 1979 Ford Cortina to four rosters, there were 150 lots in all. Over 100 people registered," remembers longstanding Stratford Lion Jack Jeffares.

When the hammer fell on the final lot, more than $12,500 had been raised.

"This project has shown what could be achieved when passionate people pass on their enthusiasms to other club members to drive a project."

Rob Sturmer, who joined the Stratford Lions the year before Jack did, in 1964, has been the drive behind the club's Golf Charity day, which started about 40 years ago and is one of the club's most successful projects.

"It is estimated that more than $50,000 has been raised over the years, with the main beneficiary being the Blind Institute which has been presented with a minimum of $500 annually. first tournament."

Another memorable project was Monster Boulevard held in the early 1970s.

"It was a massive drive over several weeks collecting used goods. Everything from furniture, whiteware, clothing, machinery was stored around the town in vacant premises ready for the big day. The auction was scheduled to be held all day on a Saturday, which necessitated Broadway being closed to traffic. Special permission was given by the Minister of Transport," says Jack.

"As well as the auction the street and footpaths were jam-packed with Lions members running hoopla stalls, spinning wheels and sausage sizzles. The record of the amount of money made has been lost , but it would have been many thousands. Then the club had more than 50 members."

The club's gala days have always been hugely popular with other community groups, schools, churches and kindergartens for raising funds, Baldrick's Big Day Out being an example. In the past there have been as many as 50 stalls.

The young people of Stratford have always been an integral part of the club's vision, with student exchange programmes, an annual Youth of the Year award and Camp Quality (an annual camp for children with terminal illness, held at St Mary's Diocesan) just a few examples of projects focussed on the youth.

In the 1970s Lions members spent many weekends installing swings, slides, roundabouts and erecting a miniature replica of Mt Egmont (about two metres high) full of holes and tunnels for the children to climb through and an eight-meter-long sailing ship with masts and rigging for climbing. Located at Victoria Park, it has since been replaced, but was enjoyed by local children for many years.

The Stratford Lions' train, acquired about 25 years ago, is still a favourite to hire for events. The last time it was used was at the Stratford Trots meet last month.

- Stratford Press

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