Retired piano tuner and repairer Phil Passmore was elected president of Port Macquarie City Lions Club in June this year – a half-century after the town’s first Lions club was founded. He’s been a member of Lions for 28 years.
Lions is the world’s biggest service organisation: some 41,000 clubs in 180 countries. It began in the US 92 years ago; its international motto is: We Serve. At the first convention the keynote speaker was blind author Helen Keller and ever since then the blind have been one of the main sectors of society Lions raise funds for. The first Australian club was formed 62 years ago at Lismore. Port Macquarie Lions Club was founded in June 1959, so Lions have just celebrated 50 years of service to this community. The original Port Macquarie club chartered a second club, Port Macquarie City Lions, in 1981. They chartered a third local club, Tacking Point Port Macquarie, in 1997. The three clubs have a membership of 70, 18 of them women; some are husband-and-wife members. Our Lions district runs from Old Bar in the south to Yamba in the north and inland out to Moree, encompassing 64 Lions clubs, three Lioness clubs and four Leo clubs. Lioness clubs are for women only and Leo clubs for people from early teens to 24. Our district governor is from Port: Christine Woolnough, of Tacking Point club, is the second woman to be a governor of our district.
The three Lions clubs in Port Macquarie carry out a variety of activities. Most of our efforts help the local community and some funds we raise go to supporting Lions foundations. The ALF, Australian Lions Foundation, helps citizens in time of natural disasters such as floods and bushfires. Similarly the Lions Clubs International Foundation helps people around the world suffering in such disasters; it contributed to Victorian bushfire victims earlier this year. Lions’ Save Sight Campaign has raised $4.5 million to help the blind around the world and the 428 NSW Lions clubs are major supporters of the Eye Bank at Sydney Eye Hospital. Locally, Tacking Point has built a children’s garden at Tacking Point Primary and helped renovate the children’s ward at the Hospital, with assistance of ANZ Bank and the hospital. Port Macquarie Club ran the Macquarie Art Award which over the years raised $180,000, a terrific effort. Port City provided a rubber ducky for Sea Rescue and hearing systems for two schools that have students with hearing difficulties. The three clubs carry out a lot of catering for various events – Ironman, dog and car shows and more; over the years we’ve raised $100,000-plus from our catering activities.
Other things we do include providing technical aid for the disabled: this involves adapting tricycles for use by children who’ve intellectual or physical disabilities. Then there’s Lions Hearing Dogs, Driver Reviver, Lions Christmas Cakes, Lions Mints, Lions Park, programs like Kids to the Inland and Youth of the Year, the Easter Duck Race … Most of the projects are ongoing fixtures like these, with the odd new one from time to time – for example, our car boot sale last month. The work we do isn’t hard, and it’s enjoyable. Members attend two dinner meetings a month and clubs hold social events during the year. One or two are combined club events that bring together members and their partners from the three clubs. We get a lot of pleasure from social mingling and from mingling with those we’re able to help, both individuals and groups. We go on bus outings and hold barbecues. Over time the extent of our hands-on work’s declined partly because we’re restricted by OH&S regulations. But the donations from our fund-raising efforts still go to a wide range of local recipients: Salvos, Sea Rescue, lifesavers, schools, hospital, Cancer Council, Scouts, Flying Doctor, Wheels Under Kids, and individuals.
It’s hard to attract young people now to join Lions: families lead very busy lives from day to day and like to spend any spare time they have within the family. But our clubs always welcome inquiries about joining and we’ll make any prospective members feel at home. Anyone interested can call me on 6584 2833 or Geoff Humby on 6583 7305. There are moves afoot to start a club in the Bonny Hills-Lake Cathie area; anyone interested in that area should get in touch. The costs involved in Lions aren’t great: our annual dues are $80, plus two dinners a month. Some clubs charge a joining fee to cover new member’s kit and name badge. Each of the three Port Lions clubs has hosted a district convention, bringing 200 to 300 visitors to town. We hope one day to host a multiple district convention here.
Story by Susie Boswell.