Warren Jones, new president of Woodville Lions Club, has been a member there for nine years.

He was told, when he arrived in Woodville with his wife Sharon, that "if you really want to know the community, join the bowling club and join the Lions club", he said.

Warren Jones - new Woodville Lions Club president.
Warren Jones - new Woodville Lions Club president.

"That was good advice - we did both. I found that Woodville Lions is a particularly vibrant group, having served in Lions in a number of offices here and at district level. We have over 30 members.

"We are starting to focus on new members. I'm pleased to say people are seeing Lions as a great way to contribute to the community."

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The club has two high-profile events. First, the Woodville Lions Suzuki Coast to Coast Motorcycle ride held annually, timed to coincide with the Christmas Parade.

"It's big, it's iconic and is in its 28th year. That project delivers funds to the regional rescue helicopter.

"I can't stress how highly valued our input is into that. We are the longest-standing sponsor of the local rescue helicopter. For that, we've earned our right to have our logo on the helicopter - that's pretty special. We're very proud that we maintain that project.

"Second, sadly, the Track & Tunnel Walk - an iconic walk - has been shelved for health and safety reasons. We haven't totally lost sight of that.

"This year we ran a walk over the proposed new Manawatū-Tararua Highway, a very successful joint fundraiser with Woodville School. It raised $16,000 with half going to upgrade the school playground. NZTA is amenable to repeating the event.

"A new proposal we are working on is a family fun experience based at the racecourse - in the thinking stage. We are always looking to do some cool things."

Regular projects include an Over 70s Mid-Winter Dinner, which has run for some years. There is a firewood programme for super seniors - a free trailer-load of firewood each year for them.

"During Covid we set up a telephone network with our old folk, checking in on them. Then there is a Junior Speechmakers' programme each September.

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"We carried out a tree planting programme in Ferry Reserve and installed a barbecue. In Fountaine Square we installed a barbecue facility and picnic tables.

"Over the years we've built a reputation - we are quiet achievers. Its a great honour to stand in front of the guys," he said.

Warren started the national organisation Sleep Foundation as a Lions Club initiative and is a current trustee. Lions is about to sign a memorandum of understanding nationally for a 10-year period.