Established in 1964, Swindon Lions Club, is part of Lions Clubs International, which has clubs in more than 200 countries. Over the years, we have raised more than £350,000, with much of the money being spent on good causes in the town.
In Swindon, our many fundraising events include fairs, Easter egg raffles and Christmas collections at supermarkets, with our biggest event being the annual fireworks display at the Polo Ground, which we have organised for more than 30 years.
We have also been fully supportive in donating money to disasters, notably in Japan, Haiti, Pakistan and the Philippines.
We meet at the Village De Vere Hotel, in West Swindon, at 8pm every first and third Monday of each month.
We would be pleased to welcome new members to join our current numbers.. Currently, we have a good mixed group of members aged between 30 and 80 who fundraise, support charities and enjoy a full social calendar.
Our social calendar includes days out, boat trips, quizzes, barn dances, clay pidgeon shooting, dinners and a weekend break.
Lions Clubs International comprises 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members in most countries of the world and is the world’s largest service club organisation.
In 1917 a Chicago businessman, Mervyn Jones, encouraged fellow members of his local business club to reach out beyond business issues and to address the betterment of their communities and those of the world. His business club, the business Circle of Chicago, agreed. Within three years the organisation had gone international and has thrived and expanded ever since. It has a simple motto “We Serve” and this dictates everything we do.
Lions clubs came to the UK in 1950
After an equerry to Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Lord Leconfield, was sent to Canada to personally thank Lions clubs in that country who had provided substantial funds to help children orphaned during the blitz. He was so impressed with their work and ideals that he helped found a club in London and the organisation grew rapidly from there. Today there are 944 clubs with 20,000 members, both men and women, in Great Britain and Ireland.
A feature of the organisation is that each club has its own character and is responsible for raising its own funds and distributing such funds as it thinks best serves the community.
The costs of running the club are borne by the members (current membership costs Swindon members £25 every six months) so that all profits raised by events can be directed to those less fortunate than ourselves. This does mean that a bad fireworks night could end up with us bearing any losses which explains why members look at weather forecasts in October with particular interest.
Belonging to a large international organisation brings us many benefits.
In a commercial sense it gives us access to public liability insurance without which we would be unable to organise the firework display, or indeed any other event that involves members of the public. We also have the potential to meet and discuss with people with similar objectives from all round the world to exchange ideas and perspectives. Swindon Lions is twinned with a club from the French town of Les Andelys so every couple of years we have a highly enjoyable visit to them and vice versa. Lions has an international relief charity “Lions Clubs International Foundation” which has the mission to work on a continual basis to relieve a number of health issues and to be in a position to help in times of emergencies. Thus it has funds which it disburses very rapidly through local clubs in such situations and then relies on Lions clubs throughout the world to make donations to LCIF. In this way more than $2m has been raised to help in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Long-term programmes have aimed to reduce as far as possible preventable blindness throughout the world and Swindon Lions have long had a tradition of marking the passing of members and family members with a donation to this aspect of their work as a tribute to the individual. Currently LCIF is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department of International Development to help immunise children throughout Africa against measles.