2024 The Future


Documentation of the Allendale Lions Club’s first decade would not have been possible without, first, the archive of Business Meeting minutes scrupulously recorded and maintained by the club’s recording secretaries: Prue (Rushman) Newman; Julie Humes; Irene Ness; Stephanie Atkinson, along with intermittent notes taken by other members. These minutes have formed much of the textual content in this social history.

But dry old minutes cannot sing without accompanying images, and the voluminous scrapbook archive conscientiously maintained by Nigel Baynes throughout this first decade bears a secondary witness to our activities in a way that words alone cannot convey.

These words and images have been presented over the years of 2022, 2023 and into 2024 as an ongoing blog, which is now to be incorporated into the pages of a tangible, hold-in-your-hand volume. It’s been a huge privilege, and something of an ongoing responsibility of course, to have developed this blog, to have tried to build an ongoing record for members’ delight and reminiscence, over these past months.

I hope to present the first, prototype copies of this memory trove, for proofing and safekeeping, if not yet as a permanent record, when we meet again on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of our Charter. Where and when that event will take place, of course, is as yet unknown, but perhaps some evening in March, 2024, will prove to be appropriate.

In the process, perhaps some intrepid soul will take on the challenge of documenting the next years, years in which Nigel’s archive went silent, and when images on members’ phones replaced those that were printed as photographs and stored in scrapbooks. If so, I wish them the very best in their effort, and I would be first in the queue to acquire a copy of the history of our second decade.

With fond memories, but looking forward,

Larry Winger

2014 Charter Events (annual)

March, 2014. Charter Dinner for our 10th Anniversary

Something’s happened to the minutes of our Business Meeting held on the first Monday of the month, Monday the 3rd of March, 2014. They seem to have disappeared, as of this writing.

The meeting may have been rather climactic, however, as it seems that arrangements for the Allendale Lions Club Charter Night celebration event were foundering. It seems possible that other things got in the way, like the delightful Pantomime, and that time ran away from the organisers, or that the evening was looking desperate in terms of bookings. For whatever reason, the eventual report, recorded in the minutes of our April 2014 meeting, was that ‘everyone had enjoyed our meal at Cows Hill.  One member [related how he’d surprised himself] waking up with a spot on his forehead next morning.’

And that, apparently, was that for the Tenth Anniversary of our Charter. All of the Lions members who were at the Cowshill seemed to have been pleasantly surprised: there were no organisational duties, apart from booking the dinner and arranging transport with our local Baynes Travel firm; there was no cleaning-up, tidying of the hall; there were no recruitment issues for junior staff to help with the glassware, or for more senior ones to serve from behind the bar; there was no piper to pay (as in musical entertainment). All we had was a super-good time enjoying ourselves at a beloved family restaurant in the next valley, and we would have staggered back onto a big Baynes bus for the journey home. Simples.

I suspect we all suddenly realised that sometimes too much organisation can take too much effort, and none of us had been getting any younger. We could support a reasonably close local business, and have a good time ourselves.

Perhaps you could say that Charter Dinner 2014, our delightful 10th Anniversary Party, was a coming-of-age for the Allendale Lions Club, a realisation that enjoying each other’s company, eating well and pursuing the craic around and around the table, was an important end in itself. A destination, in other words, that might not have been fulfilled by dogged organisation nor by indefatigable work to make a big evening work in the village hall.

Coming-of-age for us Lions, then, and an intriguing capstone on a decade that, in retrospect, we might think of as ‘The Golden Years.’ The years of innocent endeavour and hard work, of serving our community well and proudly, before the vicissitudes of age and attrition began to hit us all.

Looking back, at what we achieved together, they really were Golden Years, weren’t they!

2014 Business Meetings

February, 2014

By 2014, emojis were in popular use. Which is not to say that everyone used them, of course, but still. We all knew what they were used for.

It might seem unfair to suggest that our monthly Business Meetings were capable of inducing yawns, but it’s true nevertheless that after a decade of attending to business, even the most earnest Lions were probably getting just that bit tired of the rigmarole. At least, we could consider, at least we were out for a bit of a craic, a social evening loosely masquerading as a business affair when we could conduct the great affairs of state over which we had responsibility.

But on our meeting of February, 2014, there were so few attendees (nine recorded) as against non-attendees (12 recorded) that it must have felt a bit damp squib-ish. The most salient business agenda items seemed to be the receipt of thanks from various local beneficiaries like the Primary School, which in the event was being forced to return the cheque for £350 because the club they had envisaged would not be able to run after all.

Otherwise, various members reported from other venues (like the Pantomime rehearsal), but new requests for funding received relatively short shrift. Peter Aldcroft lightened the mood with a PowerPoint Presentation describing the current status of the new Folk Festival, which was reportedly well-received.

Arrangements seemed to be well in hand for the Charter Night dinner/dance scheduled for Saturday the 8th of March, though it seems that we were some staff short in terms of dealing with glassware and washing-up. Members seemed delighted, however, at Larry Winger’s report from the Allendale Village Hall and Recreation Ground charity that grant money totalling some £38,500 had been received on the charity’s behalf by GroundSource for the development of a new skate park and that the old ramps needed to be demolished and taken away.

And that was about it for the meeting. The next meeting, scheduled for the 3rd of March, seemed likely to see us in full organisational mode to ensure that the Charter Night had lift-off.

The toast, as usual, was to Lions Clubs International, or ‘Else-see-I’.

2014 Business Meetings

January, 2014

Our 111th regular business meeting! This collage of 4 clipart images, representing: Grab-a-Granny; Christmas Tree; Carols in the Square; our upcoming formal Charter Dinner; aptly describes our January 2014 Business Meeting.

We were delighted that the Grab-a-Granny outing to Eldon Square was such a success, that the Christmas tree was entirely paid for by ‘the Norwegians’ but lit by ourselves, that the Carols in the Square were well-attended and much enjoyed. But we were already looking ahead to the excitable preparation for our big Tenth Anniversary bash: Charter Dinner Celebration, formal, at Allendale Village Hall.

It seemed that there were such a lot of items to get right, ranging from the costs, the catering, the speeches, the visiting dignitaries, the staff, the candelabra, the wines, the DJ, (to say nothing of the dress code: dinner jackets and gowns, naturally!). So most of the meeting was spent considering all of the many components of the celebration ahead.

It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that the Allendale Lions Club was becoming a beloved institution in the village. That events were being expected, widely anticipated, and increasingly well loved. And we members, we were beginning too, to revel in the appreciation, and to be proud of ourselves and our commitment to these philanthropic activities.

Time for the glad rags then, for a let-our-hairs-down kind of moment of celebration. Time to be excited about being part of a village institution!

2013 Business Meetings Fundraising Public Service

December, 2013

I see now, looking at the only copy extant of our monthly Business Meeting, our 110th, in December 2013, why I was not asked more often to write up the minutes after their careful recording in longhand by a faithful witness. In this case, it was Carrie Winger who described the events of the meetings, and it was I who carelessly let some of my feelings fly while transcribing. In so many ways, business meetings can be the very epitome of ‘boring’ and yet. And yet these things must be done.

Perhaps I was trying to leaven the burden, because I was certainly having fun poking fun at some of the solemnities, as I realise now from a perspective a decade hence. Anyway, a fair few matters of business interest were discussed, if rather fewer were resolved.

i. Santa’s Sleigh: Although the Risk Assessment for the Santa’s Sleigh outings had not yet been completed, the reports on his visit to Haltwhistle already were very positive. There were differences of opinion arising as to how Santa should be accompanied (door knocking? donation tin shaking?) on his visits around the patch, but the consensus was that he should definitely still be going out, depending on volunteer capacity.

ii. The Book Stall: Recommendation received to make a massive cull of the used books prior to their presentation at various sales points, as well as to sort them into genres. A four hour session in the village hall was suggested to begin this exercise. It seems that revenue from used books is falling by about half every year we continue with this exercise, and those of us who physically shift the book crates are getting older with every sale.

iii. The emerging Folk Festival. The Folk Festival Committee (a separate entity from the Lions Club) is expected to become a constituted entity, so that as such it will be a fully-fledged participant in handling the financial affairs of the Folk Festival which will receive primary funding from the Heritage Partnership fund acquired by the North Pennines AONB working with Fawside. The target date for the first Folk Festival is early October 2014.

iv. The Christmas Tree project. So much consternation, so many engineering nightmares (so the transcribing keyboard artist had it!). Somehow, surely, the Christmas Tree on the village green will be erected, and lit appropriately.

v. Our first decade as a club and our 10th anniversary Charter Night. The plans were advancing, and at this meeting it was looking rather more like a DJ-driven danceable evening with Paul Lowery’s expertise, than a live band. Some four caterers had been asked for quotations. We were hoping to experience a slide-show describing the past decade’s efforts. Trevor Newman, member-at-large, was keen to maintain enthusiasm

vi. May Fair. It appears that 31st of May, 2014, would be the date of the 31st annual Allendale Fair, and the theme of Wallace and Gromit and their Children’s Foundation as beneficiary was looking promising.

vii. Carols in the Square. All looking promising too, with Larry delegated to bring appropriate chairs from the village hall for the Beckworth Colliery Band’s performance and accompaniment. Although Les Elliot, current mein host at the Golden Lion, is likely to agree to serving supper to the band, the Lions would probably limit themselves to drinking.

viii. Community Service: The Grab-a-Granny event is looking likely to go ahead again this year, with a visit to Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle on the 15th of December, thanks to Baynes Coaches. Nigel also took great pains to thank Terry Page for his efforts on the Christmas lights festooned in the trees throughout the village.

ix. Extra-curricular activity: The Poacher’s March, in which Tony Johnson and his mates had sought to raise money to repatriate a damaged mate from a faraway country. The march had raised some £7-8000, and commemoration mugs were presented to the Lions Club members who had helped in the effort, with a special award to Nigel for supplying coaches and equipment.

x. The toast to Lions Clubs International, aka Elsie-Aye.

2009 Bonfire Nights Business Meetings

November, 2013

Photo by Anna Popović on StockSnap

It was one of those things; although it’s true that one fire looks much like another, it’s still the case that I’ve been unable to locate a specific image of the 2013 Bonfire down at Baynes Field. So this stock photo will have to suffice.

Further suffice it to note that the Bonfire event was a great success; Nigel thanked everyone for their help before, during and after the fire and fireworks. According to the minutes of the November meeting, a small profit was actually raised, of some £141.02. Usually, we Lions were delighted to break even on this function, as we’d always considered the occasion to be particularly in the realm of community service.

The business meeting was also interesting for a small variety of reports and recommendations, of which the most notable was the formal proposal that had been worked out between three Lions members and Andy Lees for the development of the Music Festival (to be known as a Folk Music Festival from this point onwards). After considerable discussion, the Lions Club members voted to support the proposal, which would see the Lions Club holding the purse strings as a separate committee of eager festival organisers took on the responsibility of organising the weekend. This formal vote probably could be seen as the inauguration of the basic structure of the eventual Allen Valleys Folk Festival, which grew its own organisation eventually entirely separate and independent from the Lions Club. But we can congratulate ourselves for having set the event in motion; without the club’s assistance on the formal books, it was hard to see how the emerging festival committee could muster the capacity to launch.

Another salient component of the 2013 November meeting was the recognition that Charter Night in 2014 would be the tenth anniversary of the club’s formal founding. Carrie Winger proposed, as organiser of the annual Burns Night Suppers, that for this coming year we not put on that event, in favour of our big event that would come due at around the same time, in the dim recesses of the dank winter months. And so, apparently, it transpired.

There were beginning to be some concerns about the Book Stall sales, which had elicited only £77 at the Christmas Mini-Market this year, despite being spread across the entire stage. We agreed that we should need a re-think about this activity, as it was a great deal of lifting and shifting for very little reward.

Eventually, very late in the evening at 10:30pm, we toasted ‘Elsie Aye’ aka Lions Clubs International, and adjourned.

2013 Business Meetings Music Festival

October, 2013

The October, 2013 Business Meeting came hot on the heels of the Charity Auction held just two days before, and as expected, the profit from the day’s event came to something on the order of £3300. Although the Charity Account was therefore, or would be as soon as the monies were deposited, in a healthy state again, after our £3000 cheque had gone out to the Help for Heroes foundation, Gareth Hughes the club’s new Treasurer also reported some consternation over the state of the General Account.

The General Account of the Allendale Lions Club is the account whereby members conducted their internal affairs, club matters, not particularly related to their fund-raising efforts for charitable causes. Members contribute a monthly fee (which began at something like a fiver, and has since risen by a pound or two to the current [2013] day). This account also keeps us within the organisational umbrella of the Lions Clubs International, the famous ‘Elsie Aye’ that is toasted at the end of every meeting.

Everyone was delighted at the success of the Charity Auction, if not a little bit exhausted. Not too exhausted, though, to engage in a real teeth-pulling exercise, over the administration of the mooted Music Festival, the funds for which would be drawn down from the grant received by the North Pennines AONB quango on behalf of the Allen Valleys Partnership. The discussion went around and around the table, without coming to any useful resolution. The issue seemed to be around two phrases, which conveyed ultimate responsibility (both community and financial) to the group managing the money after it was drawn down.

In the end, members agreed to send the principal combatants, Gareth Hughes and Peter Aldcroft, would-be director of the Music Festival event, away to discuss the matter of responsibility with Andy Lees, the Landscape Partnership Officer, now ensconced in the new office carved out of the Village Hall.

You could say that the Music Festival, subject of a previous entry in this social history blog, was experiencing some teething difficulties on its way to what we now know would be at least a ten year existence (the Allen Valleys Folk Festival celebrated its tenth event in October 2023).

It may be beyond the remit of this blog, a kind of journal that documents the Golden Years of the Allendale Lions Club, the first decade of that organisation’s existence, to convey precisely what solution might have been found to facilitate the emergence of the AVFF as an organisation. This blog itself will be completed when we have presented the February, 2014 entry, the tenth anniversary of the annual Charter Night celebration that was held in February, 2004. The business meeting minutes might not have recorded the resolution of the festival organisation by that point.

Nevertheless, suffice it for now, in our ongoing ‘history as if it was happening today’ blog, to note that from the perspective of the waning months of 2023, it’s clear that a solution was found, and we know as if we’ve become prescient, that all the desperately urgent discussions that presaged that solution have long ago passed into oblivion.

2013 Business Meetings Music Festival

September, 2013

At the Business Meeting of the 7th October, 2013, the main business discussed was the way the Allendale Lions Club might approach the possibility of the Music Festival, finances for which would be drawn down from the Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership coordinated by the North Pennines AONB quango, from its new office in the Village Hall.

You could say that the Music Festival, which as a previous entry in this social history blog had noted, celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2013, was having something of a teething trouble, on its way to getting started. At issue was the responsibility of the Lions Group for the success or failure of the effort, both in terms of the community and financially.

The discussion was so drawn out that the only resolution, by the end of the meeting, was to send the two principal combatants, Gareth Hughes the Club’s new treasurer, and Peter Aldcroft, the would-be director of the festival, off to have a heart-to-heart with Andy Lees, the Landscape Partnership Officer, to see it they could work out a solution that was acceptable to both sides of the issue.

Apart from that, with a report that the Charity Auction had raised some £3300 (said in the minutes to have been the ‘best ever’ but that may have been an opinion and not a fact), which was ready to go into the Charity Account, and with some consternation raised over the state of the General Account (the account into which Lions Club Members pay their monthly dues for the privilege of belonging to Lions Clubs International), there were only a few desultory efforts at dealing with other projects.

Obviously, a solution was found for the coordination of the Music Festival, but that solution might be beyond the scope of this blog as it recounts the Golden Years of the club’s existence (2003-2013). Suffice to say that there would be no Music Festival in 2013, but the event in October of 2023 would be the tenth. A way of launching the Music Festival, therefore, was found in time for the first programme in October 2014. We shall see, by looking at the subsequent minutes that clock out the tenth year of the Lions Club history, whether that solution had been found by February 2014.

2013 Business Meetings Music Festival

July, 2013

Crowds of people having fun at a music concert; Image by bedneyimages on Freepik

President Sylvia Milburn brought her first meeting to order, and welcomed Andy Lees, the Developmental Officer for the Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership project charged with spending £1.7million from the Heritage Lottery Fund in this area. One of the funded sub-projects specified in the successful grant application had been the development of a Music Festival, which needed a local group to run with the idea.

Some initial work had identified volunteers (not necessarily Lions) before our club meeting, and after extensive discussion the club agreed to support the development of the festival, in principle. Writing this social history blog, from the perspective of another ten years on (ie in 2023), it’s intriguing to note that this year the Allen Valleys Folk Festival celebrated its tenth anniversary. The Allendale Lions Club was in at the beginning, wasn’t it?

There was a lot of business to get through at this July meeting, back in 2013, of which the Fair debrief was possibly the main item after the Music Festival discussion. Peter Aldcroft apparently had produced another of his ‘fun certificates’ for Margaret Stonehouse to pass along to Diane Butcher ‘Queen of Stalls’ for her sterling efforts on behalf of the Fair organising. There were a few wrinkles in the staging of this year’s Fair, of which the foremost was the uneven floor in the marquee, for which the Club asked for and secured a reduction of £500 in the hire fee.

Margaret brought up the issue of storage: Nigel was expecting to tear down the Green Shed, which had been the repository for Charity Auction materiél, but fortunately Gary Moat’s barn shed had become available and we could store stuff there in preparation for the annual auction.

The next meeting would be held in September, as we traditionally did not hold an August meeting owing to holiday commitments by many members.

2013 May Fairs

Allendale Fair, 1st June, 2013

Although the Hexham Courant archives only thumbnails of historical images, we will have to be satisfied with these small ‘blasts from the past’ (which helpfully identify each individual photographed) as Nigel Baynes’ archive came to a stop at the end of 2012.

At the business meeting during the first week of June, the reports from the Fair were overwhelmingly positive, and indeed, it was a bright sunny day! This was the first time that the Striders had used the Village Hall as their staging area for the race, which was becoming an annual feature of the Fair. All went well throughout the day, and it seemed that everybody was as thrilled as the Lions were exhausted!

In particular, the work of Diane Butcher in the behind-the-scenes organisation and social media presence was commended by the Club. Apparently I got to be on Radio Newcastle in the morning, to chat about the Fair Day, but I’m afraid I cannot remember that at all! Thanks to the minutes of our Business Meeting, which in fact are a goldmine of hidden treasures from our golden days as a club.

There would be a Handover Party, scheduled soon at the General Havelock Inn in Haydon Bridge, when retiring President Richard Snowdon would hand over the chain of office to incoming President Sylvia Milburn. Meanwhile, money from the Fair was still flowing into the Lions charity account, and the capacity of the club to support good causes was being strengthened.