Feature: Weston Lions Club raises more than £57k in a year

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 July 2015 | UPDATED: 14:42 20 July 2015

Lions members keeping the beer flowing.

Lions members keeping the beer flowing.

Archant

RAFFLES, race nights, fundraisers and the Real Ale Festival on Weston’s Beach Lawns have become synonymous with Weston Lions Club, but many might not be aware of the extent of the work the charity does.

Revellers enjoying  Weston Lions club Real Ale Festival on the Beach Lawns.Revellers enjoying Weston Lions club Real Ale Festival on the Beach Lawns.

Between July 2014 and June 2015 Weston Lions Club raised an impressive £57,653 and supported dozens of different causes.

The social secretary for the club, John Manley, has volunteered for the group since 1981 and its treasurer, Colin Golding, joined in 1982.

Between them they have dedicated more than 60 years to the club, and they are not alone, as many of the club’s 38 members have volunteered for decades.

Mr Manley said: “We don’t lose members very often, only because of people moving away. Most of us have been volunteers for 30 years or more, and the others are getting there.”

2nd Locking Brownies.2nd Locking Brownies.

For 38 people to raise more than £57,000 in a year is no easy task, but the members seem to take it all in their stride.

In 2013-2014 the club raised £44,000, and it is clear that the success of its big events like its Real Ale Festival – which had its most successful year to date raising £39,000 for charity – and its Arts Auction helped to boost its total for 2014-2015.

Mr Manley said: “We had artists from all across North Somerset. They take part in North Somerset Arts Week, so that’s where I got my inspiration from. We followed the auction on from their arts week.

“We did an arts auction and a silent auction at the same time.”

Avon Ski Club.Avon Ski Club.

The auction raised £2,278 for the club and it is hoped it will become a regular fundraiser.

Casino evenings and race nights are also a big hit but aside from raising cash, Mr Manley and Mr Golding said one of the most important things about being a Lion is donating time.

Mr Golding said: “One of the best things I think we do is for the children of Chernobyl.

“We take them out in Weston for the day, we go on the Grand Pier and on the rides and they go and have lunch.

Members Weston-s-Mare Friends Group Children's Hospice South West at the roulette table with the Lions Club of Weston-s-Mare.Members Weston-s-Mare Friends Group Children's Hospice South West at the roulette table with the Lions Club of Weston-s-Mare.

“That is something we don’t raise money for – the pier is very good and gives us lots of free tickets – so we just volunteer our time.”

Another success story for the club has been Weston’s floral clock, which it took over the maintenance of last year.

The group will continue to re-plant the display and has installed a cuckoo house with a colourful resident cockerel.

Mr Golding said: “We are planting it out and things like that – it doesn’t cost any money for the charity, it is all done by club members.”

Weston Lions arts and crafts auction with Jo Green and Renee Kilburn with lions members John Manley and David Hunt.Weston Lions arts and crafts auction with Jo Green and Renee Kilburn with lions members John Manley and David Hunt.

Money raised by the club goes to support dozens of causes in Weston, and even supports international disasters.

Whenever a disaster occurs – like the recent earthquakes in Nepal – the club directs funds to the Lions Club International Foundation, which sends money to the areas affected.

Mr Manley said: “The good thing about it is it gets sent directly to Lions in those countries, who have the local knowledge of how to spend it.”

Internationally there are 1.4 mil members of Lions groups, spread across 210 countries.

Lions Clive Dark, Les Cumming, John Holland, Chris Nelson and Ken Coles.Lions Clive Dark, Les Cumming, John Holland, Chris Nelson and Ken Coles.

Mr Manley said: “We received money from the fund in 1981, to help with the flood at Uphill.”

The floods completely washed out many homes and Mr Manley said: “We received money from the international fund and we asked people who lived there what they needed.

“We spent it on dehumidifiers for families and I think we sent one family on holiday while their house dried out.”

Closer to home many groups have received support from the Lions through Go Kids Go! – a scheme which, through the Mercury, supports exercise and healthy lifestyles in children across Weston.

Weston Lions Chris Nelson, Eric Tones, John Holland, Ken Coles, Gerald Coles and Colin Golding.Weston Lions Chris Nelson, Eric Tones, John Holland, Ken Coles, Gerald Coles and Colin Golding.

Last year 24 groups were given grants totalling £12,000 and this year more groups than ever have applied for a slice of an £11,000 funding pot.

Outside of Go Kids Go! Weston Sea Cadets, the Great Western Air Ambulance, North Somerset Young Carers, Comfort and Warmth and many more local groups have benefitted from grants alongside individuals.

Mr Manley said: “We can donate to people to help them go on a trip, or if somebody has just moved house and they are short of furniture we will help those people.

“People write to the club and then our committee will pick it up and discuss it at a meeting.

Children of Chernobyl visit the Grand Pier.Children of Chernobyl visit the Grand Pier.

“We work with other charities as well, people get referred from groups like Alliance Homes, or social workers.”

The Real Ale Festival is due to return to Weston’s Beach Lawns on July 24-26 and will be open from 10.30am-11pm each day.

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