2003 Pre-Charter Organisation

The 2003 Christmas season

Sometimes, as we revisit the past, it’s best to check out both the ambition and also the fruition.

The Christmas season of 2003 was moving closer, as the 4th formal meeting of the emerging Allendale Lions Club convened at the Golden Lion on the 17th of November.

By this point, the idea of a lit Christmas tree had been put on hold, along with a Lions Christmas dinner, but a Lions band of real carollers hoped to gather in the square and mosey around the various pubs, shaking collecting tins and in general behaving as the reputed carollers of old. Never mind that the traditional Nine Lessons and Carols would be held the same evening, the 21st of December, in St Cuthbert’s church, because the Lions would be getting together afterwards.

Meanwhile, a call had come in from the Tynedale Lions to help with their Santa’s sleigh circuits, around Stocksfield and Haydon Bridge, for which Trevor, Nigel and Margaret volunteered a night each.

With the business of the hotly-anticipated Charter Dinner attended to (village hall booked, dress code = black tie/formal, entertainment recruitment and meal provision/service plans ongoing), the guiding Lions offered to help us out with formal invitations to neighbouring clubs.

Graham Girvan had identified the process by which we could open a Charity Account and an Administration Account at Lloyds-TSB in Hexham and signatories were agreed. Fergus Sandison was organising orders for club rugby shirts. Margaret Stonehouse, Wendy Blowman, Sue Mills and Rosemary Granger were suggested as possible Vice-President candidates. The nitty-gritty components of the club’s affairs were coming together.

And it was back to Christmas season plans. The pub crawl on the 1st of December would definitely be going ahead, and it would take the place of the monthly business meeting, Perhaps the curry supper to be served at the end of the evening in the Lion would suffice as a Lions Christmas Dinner.

And that was the last Lions meeting of 2003. Only another two meetings were likely before the exciting Charter Night!

But what actually happened throughout the Christmas season was both intriguing and slightly different from the plans. The pub crawl on the 1st of December must have been either too much of muchness, or it hadn’t been well-attended, or it hadn’t happened at all: no report was forthcoming at the business meeting on the 5th of January, 2004. Two evenings of our Lions supporting the Tynedale Lions Santa circuit around Corbridge resulted in a reciprocating loan of the sleigh for the Allendale Carol Singing, with Jonny Baynes as Santa, but the carollers had a very chilly and lonely evening indeed. As the community participation had been negligible, a post hoc suggestion was raised to do carols on the Saturday morning before Christmas, when a captive audience of last-minute shoppers might be present.

Apparently, however, some intrepid Lions volunteered to help take down the Christmas lights festooned around the square; it’s not clear whether or not the club members had been part of the decorations.

It must have felt a bit of relief to have the Christmas season behind us, so we could all look forward to some excitations in the year ahead, like the Burns Night dinner in the hall, and then the Charter Night, but most of all, the community presentation of the Allendale Fair by the new Allendale Lions Club!

2003 Pre-Charter Organisation Public Service

Sandgreen and Meeting 3

How young we all were, back in the day, eh? And the assembled riders raising sponsorship money for Youth Project funds were even younger! Thanks to Davey Humes for the photographs from the past.

Now it’s 100 miles from the Sandgreen Caravan Park to Allendale, and I wonder if the trek might not have been over two days, with the start on Sunday morning the 26th October, 2003 and another day’s ride on the Monday? I’d have thought that the coming week might well have been half-term. Hoping someone will be able to comment on the duration of this mini-epic cycling adventure.

Whatever the timing, there’s no doubt that it was a great time, and the funds raised would make a significant contribution to the development of the Youth Project rooms underneath Allendale Village Hall. I remember hearing tales of how the inner room was houked out of the bank by the young people themselves, after the New Hall extension went up. The intervening years have seen significant development and re-development of those rooms, of course, but at the time of the Sandgreen –>Allendale adventure, the new extension would have been just over a decade old.

Although the cycle trek was done before the Allendale Lions Club received its formal charter, this event was probably the very first community service in which the emerging club participated. It’s lovely to think that continuity of community was an intrinsic concern of the club from its outset.

By the end of the half-term week, November would have been rolling around and it was time once again for a business meeting on the first Monday. As always, we were looking ahead to the next event!

In the main, that would be the Charter Night, scheduled firmly now for Friday the 20th of February, 2004, pending confirmation of availability of the hall. But the proposed Christmas tree on the green and the carol singing were still in discussion. There were other social activities that different Lions Club members were independently organising, of course:

  • Sue Mills was hoping tickets for the Rock Stars and Rock Chicks night at the end of the month would be snapped up
  • Lynda McGregor hoped lots of intrepid walkers would be able to join the Allenheads –> Hexham walk on Sunday in aid of SCOPE
  • Maggie Shearer and Fergus Sandison were organising a pub crawl around six (remember when there were six!) local pubs for the 1st of December, which would take the place of a business meeting
  • Remember remember . . . the last West Tynedale Round Table bonfire would burn in two days time
  • The last WTRT Christmas dinner was scheduled for the 15th of December, to which men were invited.

Just when we may have thought that there would be no report on the Sandgreen –> Allendale, sponsored cycle ride, Sue Mills offered an update: some £3500 had been raised for the Youth Project, and the commitment of the young riders was particularly commended. She thanked those who had been able to help on the event.

And finally, the toast to LCI was raised by Trevor. Next meeting in a fortnight!

2003 Pre-Charter Organisation

Second meeting . . . hilarity!

It seems everybody was a joker at the second meeting of the emerging Allendale Lions Club.

Remember, we hadn’t actually done anything yet, by the 20th of October, 2003, a fortnight on from our first meeting. It had been proposed that mid-month meetings would be more about the social side of things, so perhaps that’s why the ideas ran from the mundane to the sublime. And it was definitely an ideas meeting.

We may have been acting up a little too, considering that we were being watched by five other Lions, including the Region Chair, from neighbouring clubs: Tynedale Lions and Mid-Tyne Lions as well as our Guiding Lions from the District. But in attendance were 22 of our new members and we were ready for a bit of fun.

First, however, we had to answer the Oath of Commitment as delivered by Mike Rogers the Region Chair. Apparently we each received our Charter Member lapel badges too. We must have been reasonably serious for this part of the meeting, I should think.

As the business of the meeting got underway, beginning with Fund Raising, Trevor indicated that any residual monies from the West Tynedale Round Table (as was) would be forwarded on to the new Allendale Lions Club, in due course. Other suggestions included a progressive supper in the village hall, a community carol sing, and a combined male/female calendar for 2004, in the manner of the (in)famous Rylston and District Women’s Institute from Yorkshire that had inspired the Calendar Girls film released in 2003. The meeting was obviously starting to go downhill, but as I recall, the men in particular demurred.

Community Service ideas were next on the agenda, with the first being a dinner for residents of the Thornley Leazes ‘Cave’ served by Lions. The first mention of a Christmas tree on the green was raised, with associated carols, and although everyone thought this was a good idea, Trevor riposted that the all-male WTRT had tried for years to generate enthusiasm for such an event to no avail. Thank you women members! More ideas involving the participation of the First and Middle school children around the tree were mooted.

Fellowship was the final topic of the increasingly rambunctious meeting, and after the Christmas Dinner idea segued into a Tropical Night in January, the visiting Lions must have been rolling their eyes. But there seemed to be some enthusiasm for having more than just the one Burns Night, which would be quite a feat to accomplish in such a little village as Allendale. Finally, a Murder/Mystery night at Deneholme was suggested, and the guiding Lions looked askance when our Charter President asked if such an event would be safe!

I suspect that the rest of the evening was spent in the bar of the Golden Lion, but certainly the meeting closed with the first recorded Allendale toast to Lions Clubs International, abbreviated to Elsie Eye for convenience and general consternation.

It was beginning to look as if the Allendale lot were in the game to have some fun!

2003 Pre-Charter Organisation

So what shall we do?

It seemed that there were lots of ideas to be getting on with, at the first pre-meeting meeting of the emerging Allendale Lions Club, 6th October, 2003

The very first idea out of the starting blocks was, of course, the Fair. Whether it was the Allendale Fair, or the May Fair (well known to be held at the beginning of June), it was always going to be the Fair that was almost the raison d’être for the new club’s existence. We’ve noted already that the Round Table organisation has strict age limits imposed on its membership, and the task had fallen upon Nigel Baynes, then chairman of the West Tynedale Round Table, as was, and approaching the age of mandatory retirement, to hope that the new club, Allendale Lions, might take over the role of organisers for the fair that he and Brian Newman had invented perhaps a decade earlier.

Of course, after Trevor explained the circumstances of this transfer, everyone agreed. The first event was pinned up in the local Lions’ calendar; it would require special committees and lots of meetings, but we were up for the challenge. Not only Community Service, but also Fundraising and Fellowship boxes would be ticked by this event.

I suspect that ever since the Round Table had developed the play area in the Recreation Ground, there had been a special place in their philanthropy for young people. Nigel noted that a fundraising event for the Youth Club was on imminent cards, and that the youngsters were eager to gain sponsorship for the cycle ride from Sandgreen near Gatehouse of Fleet across the Scottish border and back to Allendale.

History, even relatively recent history, is a funny thing. I was delighted to see that my own submission, the clearance of the Dene below the Rec Ground, was up next. Apparently we agreed that this activity would be an ideal sort of Community Service for the coming year. But was I then the chair of the Allendale Village Hall & Recreation Ground charity? Or did I have a special place already in my heart as a trustee for this facility? I can’t remember!

Sue Mills’ notice, that a Rock Stars and Rock Chicks event was scheduled for the 29th November at the hall, also looked to have a history: it must have been only a few seasons since Maggie Shearer’s Theatre 2000 put on a thrilling show, and the dress-up party, which must inevitably be a karaoke-fest, felt like a next step.

Sylvia Milburn was eager to chat about the Harvest Home event at St Cuthbert’s this coming Saturday the 11th, with Wurzel Gummidge and Aunt Sally coming along to judge the children’s submissions.

And after Sue Mills put in another plea for sponsorship for her anticipated trek in Peru, the session closed with the next meeting date scheduled for a fortnight hence — my my, we were an enthusiastic bunch, weren’t we? Even back then, however, folks were eager to get to the bar to continue the discussion.

2003 Pre-Charter Organisation

The first officers

They elected us to do what?

First meetings, when looked at in retrospect, always seem to have a frisson of expectation, and weren’t we in just that state on the 6th October, 2003?!

With our ‘Guiding Lions’ welcomed and watching over us: a friendly pair from the local district, 105 (Alan and Corinne Ashburner); and the President of the Tynedale Lions (Colin McGregor); we jumped into the fray. A complete list of all interested members had been compiled and joining fees were being received from others. It seems likely that Trevor Newman chaired this meeting from the outset as his prescient suggestion, that meeting minutes (and the comprehensive members list including folks who could not be present that evening) should be distributed by email, was the very first item discussed.

At some point, perhaps by individual discussions, or perhaps by some speechifying from the Guiding Lions, we would have been informed that the International Lions Club was the biggest such philanthropic service-minded organisation in the world, and that we were in very good company. Implicit, but never explicit, as I recall, the welcome to old(er) members was part of the package.

These very first minutes do not record actual attendees (that practice started with the second meeting), but they carefully go on to note the nominations and elections of the officers who would be expected to develop the new club’s programme for the successive months ahead until July 2005.

An organisation isn’t going to get anywhere without a leader, and so Trevor Newman, our first leader, was approved by acclamation. That somehow made the meeting more formal, with an elected chair, and the elections proceeded.

The all-important role of Treasurer was fulfilled by Graham Girvan, and Prue Rushman, already taking notes, was elected as Secretary. Margaret Stonehouse agreed to take on the role of Membership Officer, while Sue Mills accepted the position of Fundraising Officer.

It was hardly a surprise when we all agreed that Nigel Baynes would be an ideal Community Service officer, nor that Maggie Shearer should act as Fellowship Officer (what we have since come to think of as Fun & Games for fellow Lions). These roles seem to have been dictated by the experience of our guiding Lions, and so they were duly filled by the people we all felt would have experience and capacity to act in these positions. Finally, the role of Publicity Officer was pinned on me, Larry Winger, then the District News Correspondent for the Allen Valleys at the Hexham Courant. I remember Alan Ashburner smiling at the unlikely coincidence that the club should have some sort of press representative in its midst. It was as if a ready-made Lions Club had fallen from the sky, apparently, in the opinion of the attending Guiding Lions.

Another kind of officer role was considered, the position of Tail Twister. This role seems to have been some sort of internal fund-raising activity (the general Administration Account of the Allendale Lions club has always been separate from the Charity Account which has been sacrosanct from day one: money raised from the public goes back to good causes without any administration fees whatsoever.). But we agreed that there were other ways to acquire operating costs besides a formal officer role.

It was time to talk about our exciting activities! And that exercise is better placed to occupy its own unique blog entry. Watch this space!

2003 Pre-Charter Organisation

Enthusiasm abounding

The very first minutes . . .

We’re indebted to Prue (Rushman) Newman for taking a conscientious record of minutes from the very beginning of the ALC, and to Trevor for sending it along for this history blog. Although this was a semi-formal meeting, this first assembly upstairs in the Golden Lion, it wasn’t yet a fully formed group convening. Crucial organisational affairs were yet to be resolved.

But meetings like this one don’t just happen spontaneously, or if they do there’s always folks who might be left out. No, some assiduous recruitment had been going on throughout the winter, spring and summer, it seems. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling the earlier conversations went something like this, maybe round about May Fair time, when somebody brought up a certain eligibility criterion for membership in the Round Table:

Did you know that we’re getting too old to be part of this group?

Never, whatcha talking about man!

I’ve got a note here from the Round Table of Great Britain and Ireland. Says that they’ll retire members when they reach the grand age of 45! Says we’d better prepare for turfing the old guys out!

Hell’s bells, that’s me stuffed then. In a year or two. And you too. How’re we gonna keep the Fair going without some insurance?

Carrie remembers the scenario differently. As we were chatting about these early times (and what better way to stimulate memory than to muse, turn things over in our minds?) she suggested that Nigel Baynes had been involved in the revival of the Burns Night Supper at the King’s Head, and had worked his way around the village recruiting a likely crowd. It seems that the Burns Night do at the beginning of 2003 may have been the one in which Billy Thompson declaimed, from memory, Tam O’Shanter. An unforgettable experience, that.

Anyway, from the crowd of enthusiastic attendees, Nigel may have elicited folks eager to participate in a community service organisation. For this new group, there was to be no gender bar. [This is where comments ‘below the line’ can amplify and enhance our collective history!]. However it happened, an enthusiastic group of people, male and female, coalesced at the first pre-meeting meeting to set up the basic structure of the Allendale Lions Club.

In the next blog entry (I’m aiming for two or three entries of a working week, probably M/W/F) I’ll try to outline how things moved at this meeting, and we’ll follow our noses to develop this collective history.

Happy remembering!