2012 Public Service

The cheque to Josie’s Dragonfly Trust

Considering the growth and reach of Josie’s Dragonfly Trust over the succeeding years since it was founded, in the year she died (2007), up until the present (this blog was created during 2022/2023), it was a privilege to have been able to help out in the earlier days, as this photograph of the big cheque from the Allendale Lions Club shows.

I’ve noticed that many of these photos of funding distribution seemed to have been placed in front of the Allendale Co-operative Society shop. Isn’t that so apposite, though, to reflect the cooperation among the Allen Valleys community in shared pursuit of a common goal.

Of the photograph, you just have to love the smiles, don’t you! Sometimes the Allendale Lions have been criticised for excessive self-congratulation, but on occasions when a big cheque was handed over, it felt like honest pride in our contribution.

Inevitably, as this archive of our social history is laid down online, in bits and pieces of blog entries, photographs and reminiscences, there’s a feeling of tristesse, of nostalgia for those times, which were so very good, so very innocent and earnest. That, at least, was how it felt, how it feels today, looking back.

One of the remits for this social archive, however, is the investigation of how organisations develop, how they mature and grow, and also how attrition affects us all, how such groups wane as well.

By the autumn of 2012, the club was embarking on its tenth year of existence, if you count its formative year from early meetings in September, 2003. The subsequent decade would test the capacity of the ageing members that remained.

2008 Personalities

Thanks Cliff

The hardest part about writing these blogs is the remembering of those who we have lost. But this remembrance also helps to keep those individuals alive, I think.

Cliff Calvert probably enjoyed his stints as Santa in the Sleigh popping around the houses more than anything else he helped with in the Lions Club. He would also have appreciated Peter’s wicked sense of humour.

But then, the repartee in the Lions’ Business Meetings was always the most fascinating part of what might otherwise have been rather tedious. Thrust and counter-thrust were usually the order of the day, and gentle teasing of the intrepid Santa was typically a crucial component of the friendly camaraderie that flowed around the table on these occasions.

2012 May Fairs

Allendale Fair 2012

There was something about Georgina Welton that captured that special moment in the life of Allendale Fair. The 2012 May Fair (almost always held in June, of course) was at least the second fair in which the main photograph printed by the Hexham Courant, in its reprise of all the action, featured George in full performance mode on the karaoke. But then, dressed up as the Queen, what better way to capture the photographer’s attention! As it was, Anna Harrison took home the top prize in the Junior Karaoke Final, though it was inevitable that George again received the Jock McConnochie trophy for her presentation.

It was cool, too, to see the delightful feature on the Allendale scarecrows sharing the page. Such a lot of interesting things happened in 2012 in the vibrant village!

A lot of the effort in the 2012 fair was put toward raising funds for Josie’s Dragonfly Trust, a local charity set up by Josie’s parents in 2007 after she died at the age of 16 from cancer. [Today, in 2023, the Dragonfly Trust is a nationwide charity dealing with the fallout of terminal cancer diagnosis, and palliative care, for children and young adults up to the age of 25, and their family members].

As local reporter Robert Gibson noted, the now-traditional Allen Valley Striders race, and fun run, as well as the Strong Man competition, complemented the Karaoke Finals on Fair Day.

But the Fair, celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, had more in store, with an Allendale Churches Together coffee morning in the marquee, and a performance by the Dale Singers, on Sunday.

Monday saw an Arts and Crafts session for the youngsters, and then a shared Scarecrow Stomp in the village hall to round off the Scarecrow Competition.

It all seemed like a special weekend within a cohesive and friendly community, even though, as Nigel Baynes thoughtfully noted, it really was a freezing day outside.

Not a problem for the warm hearts that populated the square, of course.

2012 May Fairs

Preparations for the Fair, 2012

Ah yes, that was the year of the Golden Jubilee, wasn’t it? Sixty years of the reign of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and of course, the Allen Valley Drama Group were not going to let such an opportunity pass by without comment.

So their big presentation, Saturday evening of the big Fair Day (itself only one day out of the four day weekend fest), was to be ’60 Years of Allendale’. The show promised to be so great they had to put it on twice!

As Margaret Stonehouse had mentioned at our Business Meeting beginning of April, things were indeed well in hand for the festivities. I also remember a big cake, created by Carrie at Allendale Bakery, in the shape and decoration of a huge royal postage stamp, which was cut and distributed to everyone in the square at some point. No doubt the baking effort started shortly after the appearance of this full-page advertising feature in the Hexham Courant.

The Courant did try to be beneficent towards Allendale, featuring salient images from previous fairs with a nod towards the coming event. Of course, the full page was paid for by all the enterprises advertising their wares and services, but the space for publicity, the column inches within the page, was always golden.

How much we depended on the local paper, and how eager we were to see what was news, every Thursday late afternoon, so that some of us were there at the MarketPlace waiting for the delivery of the wrapped parcels, the bundles of some 600 papers (can you believe it!) and the kind opening of the first one by Elsie.

Those days were magical, really, and it’s not just me who fondly remembers them, I’m sure. As immediate and in-your-face as the social media of 2023 is (the perspective from which I’m writing), it feels like there’s something missing today that we had in abundance, if we only recognised it, back in the day.

2012 Public Service

Re-decorating the hall, 2012

We tend, I reckon, as a club to forget how much earnest effort and indeed funds, we’ve generated to put to good use. Even though we are also in the business of self-promotion and we have always tried to announce our philanthropic efforts with pride.

But some five years after the Calor Village of the Year invigilators visited Allendale, and exclaimed over our amazing colour schemes (both Deneholme and Allendale Village Hall had benefited from the interior design expertise of Maggie Shearer), the hall was looking shabby. I’d forgotten myself how it was that the Lions Club stepped up once again to fund the decoration and enhance the presentation of the hall. But minutes tend not to lie, and those of the Business Meeting in April, 2012, indicate how important the Lions’ contribution actually was:

Hot, it seemed, on the heels of funding another outside bin, I was asking the Lions to fund the entire re-decoration inside the hall. And of course, in times of need, and because everyone recognised the incredible resource the hall was, and how it needed to be presentable to be self-sustaining, the club agreed to the proposal.

Thank you, Lions Club of Allendale, for your very special support of this community facility!

2007 Personalities

Thanks Margaret

When we were forty strong, and many things were so different, it seemed that the status quo would continue for years ahead. The club did continue, of course, but there was a gradual attrition, and as I look over the list of members back when Margaret Stonehouse was running the Golden Lion with Michael, I can see who has departed, and who is still with us.

So this is a useful document not only for the heartfelt thanks to an in-house proprietor, but also as a record of the club’s growth. Indeed, this exercise, this ongoing social history of the Allendale Lions Club, may prove to be a kind of valuable primary source, decades hence.

I’ve always thought that like individual lives, there is waxing and waning of organisations, times for frantic effort, and time to chill and recoup. If this little blog helps to trace this process, it may be an intriguing pointer to the future as well.

2012 Fundraising May Fairs

The Karaoke Heats are on . . .

Davy Humes sent along these delightful images of a Karaoke Heat in action at a local pub, in response to my plea for images of Lions activities from 2012 onwards. I like them because they’re so of the moment.

Not a huge crowd, perhaps, but fun nevertheless. I think it’s these sorts of images, fuzzy, blurred and full of life, that help to encapsulate the ambience of those times. The great thing about the Karaoke Heats, so many of which I missed, was the developing buzz, the sense of enthusiasm looking ahead to the final in the square on Fair Day. And that sense was such a wonderful word-of-mouth promotion that today’s facebook PR cannot quite replace.

But times do change, and what worked well back in the late winter of 2012 might founder a decade or more hence. Isn’t it a delight, though, to remember those times, even while everything as I write is in the final frenzy of preparing for the 2023 Allendale Fair (ie the 22nd of July!).

2007 Charity Auctions Personalities

Thanks Nigel

I’m reminded of that infamous jeweller who destroyed his business with one unfortunate quip (ah yes, it was Gerald Ratner, wasn’t it!). And yet, Peter is absolutely right . . . the annual charity auction does consist of just so much dross, as in fact everyone knows very well. So there’s never much chance of doing a Ratner on the auction by telling it like it is. On the other hand, we’ve always thought that the public service was in the contemporary mode of recycling, and besides, the day is such intriguing entertainment.

For some reason, can’t think why, the advent of the Lions bar and real ale on draft for the day seemed to make the long process a bit less stressful. Between the liquid refreshment and Nigel’s quips and running repartee, we were all consistently amused.

According to the dates of these items in Nigel’s archive, of which there are at least a score of thanks, commendations and/or commiserations or congratulations, this award is the second in the series developed by Pete.

2012 Fundraising

The Proper Boys

I can’t remember helping on this gig, but it’s most likely that I was behind the bar, so I may not have heard much, if the gig was as busy as it promised to be.

To be fair, although the Lions installed the bar on the other side of the New Hall for the good of the community (and especially the village hall itself which benefited rather dramatically from the increased revenue), these promotions evenings also had a potential to raise funds for the charitable purposes espoused by the club. On this particular evening, I would have been wearing a metaphorical Lions hat, but I’d also have made sure that a reasonable bar fee was extracted from the profits to help support the village hall as well.

Apparently, from a careful reading of the minutes of the business meeting following this gig, 5th March, 2012, the evening was a great success, and everyone involved was effusive in thanking each other. The consensus was that this kind of event should be built upon. Perhaps there was too much of what some felt to be self-congratulation, as emails praising this and that individual were filling up members’ mailboxes, causing some consternation. Our role, it was agreed, was to serve, rather than to pat ourselves on the backs for the effort.

Nevertheless, we were all delighted to have generated a profit of £768.66 on the night, which boosted the charity account to just over £5k with a few outstanding expenses. With the funds in hand, we agreed that a budget of £2500 for this year’s Allendale Fair would be acceptable.

There was, however, an intriguing historical footnote tucked into the Publicity Officer’s report at this March ’12 meeting. After due consideration, while recognising that the preliminary promotion of the Proper Boys gig on Facebook may have contributed to the general buzz about the event, we decided that a Facebook page was not for us, but that we would concentrate on our own website. It would, apparently, take several more years before we Lions decided that we could be ready to face up to social media!

2007 Fundraising Public Service

Thanks Hilary

When Peter Aldcroft first became President of the Allendale Lions Club, throughout 2007, 2008 and 2009, he initiated a series of team building awards, presented often in batches, framed, to the recipients at a business meeting. For whatever reason, Nigel Baynes seemed to have collected perhaps a first draft, or first print prior to framing, of all of these awards. I wonder if perhaps there was a colour printer in the Baynes office, and Peter tried out his ideas there, before presenting the final award? Nigel, being Nigel, may have kept a copy for his burgeoning treasure trove of memories.

Anyway, there are some 20 or so of these various awards in Nigel’s copious archive, and these copies will be intercalated, ultimately, into their appropriate time slot during Peter’s term. Since I only found them sometime toward the end of my perusal of the various folders and envelopes I’ve been entrusted with, they’ll all be presented out of sequence in the regular blog, but by editing of the calendar, I should be able to get them into the right places thereafter.

One of the first such awards was made to Hilary Aldcroft for her perseverance and diligence in organising the schedule and rota for the annual Santa’s Sleigh tours around our local area. That was a job, often unsung, until Peter invented his awards.

At the time, the Allendale Lions toured around Haltwhistle, Bardon Mill, Haydon Bridge, Allenheads, and Allendale. Perhaps at some point there was an issue of territory, as a neighbouring Lions Club laid claim to one or another village for collecting. But whatever issues arose, there was always the question of logistics, of getting the sleigh sorted, or arranging the Elf rota for the collecting tins, and in general being on top of things. A perfect storm, in other words, and not for the faint-hearted, so the award was well-deserved!