Behind the scenes at the pride of the community for the last 40 years

Morpeth Lions.
Morpeth Lions.

MORPETH Lions Club has been going for 40 years, being formed in 1972.

The club is grateful to the Morpeth Herald for allowing us to write a column over the next 12 months about what the Lions have been doing over these 40 years.

There will be photographs from the past and you may be on one or more of these, so keep a look out.

Our first meeting was held on February 22, 1972, with David Smethurst elected our first President.

David has since left the Lions, but still lives locally.

The first meeting was held in the Queens Head Hotel, with the next two meetings held in the Newcastle House Hotel.

We have since had a variety of meeting venues in Morpeth, including the Black Bull, Black Swan, Masons Arms (Tap and Spile), Red Bull, Sun Inn, White Swan, Conservative Club and the Waterford Arms.

We now meet upstairs in the RAFA Club where we have been made welcome for several years now.

One of the founding members was George Bell, who went on to be a Lions District Governor.

His District covered all of Scotland and the North East of England.

In his later years George was well known in Morpeth for taking photographs of events, many of them being published in the Morpeth Herald.

Sadly he passed away in 2005, but is fondly remembered by the club and residents of the town.

The first meetings were very much about establishing the rules and committees of the club.

However, the charity work started straight away with one of the first tasks being to cut and distribute logs to needy people.

These were still the days of log fires before they became fashionable again.

The first big fund-raising event centred on a stage coach ride from Edinburgh to London and which was due to pass through Morpeth.

Plans were made for the Morpeth Pipe Band and Morris Dance Teams to welcome the coach in the Market Square.

What are Lions about?

Lions Clubs are an international organisation and we are part of a Multiple District of the British Isles and Ireland.

Our patron for the British Isles is Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex

Like most organisations we have a Mission Statement and this is to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding.

We are all volunteers so as a Morpeth Club of around 30 members our priority tends to be on serving our local communities.

This is achieved without financial reward to members.

We contribute to our own administrative costs while the money raised from the public and other donations goes into a separate charity account to help others.

While we have been active in Morpeth and the surrounding areas for 40 years, our profile increased considerably with our work following the floods in 2008.

It must be said this was very much a joint effort with Morpeth Rotary, other Lion and Lioness Clubs, the Red Cross, the churches and many other organisations.

It was partly instrumental in the club being nominated and receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which we were honoured and proud to accept – not only for us, but for all those working with and supporting us in Morpeth.

A Morpeth Lion knows what to expect each year in the way of events and fund-raising.

We are always very busy up to Christmas and take time to recover early in the New Year.

At this time of the year we are busy planning our LionsSwim charity event at the Leisure Centre and Baths and helping at the Morpeth Gathering.

There will be more details of these and other events from previous years in next month’s article.

As a taster, this week’s photograph is of a swimming team made up of Morpeth Harriers and Morpeth Swimming Club getting ready to take the plunge in 1993.