2004 Public Service

Our 2nd Santa’s Sleigh, and International Aid in a time of desperate need

Santa Cliff Calvert gets a special hug from a young admirer

It seems that Santa’s Sleigh returned to Allendale’s Market Square on Saturday the 18th of December, and there was a steady queue of children waiting to convey their wishes to the courtly gent. I’m intrigued at how the fairy lights were arranged on this outing in Allendale, underneath a gigantic parasol I believe, but somehow I also think that the little child’s hug says it all, really, about the festive season.

It’s also conceivable that the sleigh (either borrowed still from Tynedale Lions, or on permanent loan to us, it’s not clear yet when we acquired the fantasy vehicle for our very own) may have made a repeat appearance five days later when some 50 intrepid folks sang carols around a burning brazier with roasted chestnuts and mince pies on offer. This turnout was a dramatic improvement on that of 2003’s season.

I believe George Newman led the carols and they were most likely a capella this year. The Allendale Lions were heartened by the sense of community spirit, however, and resolved to make this event an annual festive season tradition.

Fortified by a foray into the locals, we were ready for Christmas Day for sure, and then a Boxing Day siesta, or perhaps a bracing walk on the high fellsides to rejuvenate those aching tummy muscles?! But disaster afar entered our consciousness sometime on that momentous day. It was the awful Boxing Day Tsunami around the basin of the Indian Ocean.

The tsunami laid waste to vast tracts of coast around Sumatra and India on Boxing Day, 2004.

The world was overwhelmed with emotion for the hundreds of thousands of souls who had been swept out to sea, or inundated in the gigantic wave that broached the shoreline. The tragedy had an immediate effect on people’s consciousness, and the Lions responded quickly, topping up the collections received throughout the past fortnight from Santa’s Sleigh to £500 to send off quickly via the Lions Club International Fund.

When we made that decision, at our February business meeting (about which more in the next few days into September), the horrors of the tragedy were still dominating the news headlines. We were glad that we had reserves already of some £5800 in the Charity Account, thanks to big fundraising events like the autumn’s Charity Auction.

2004 Lions Social Events

The Lions first Christmas Party

Final arrangements looked set in stone by our meeting of the 6th December, 2004, for the first Christmas Party of the Allendale Lions Club

There were some 42 Lions and guests expected to be attending a do on the 20th of December, but everybody felt that if we held it at the village hall, we’d just be rattling around. So we cancelled out of that booking, but we may have paid the village hall half of the hire fee because of backing out at this late date.

Instead, we were going to Pebbles, with a rather unique twist. We were going to make our own entertainment in the guise of Nigel’s disco/karaoke, and it was BYOB. The menu was to be a choice of:

  • sausage cassoulet, or
  • chicken curry, or
  • chilli con carne, or
  • vegetable bake

with sides of rice, salad, garlic bread and finishing up with a delicious dessert. The catering was going to be handled by Fran Wraith’s foodie committee, and, as Prue suggests in her excellent minutes: See you all there. Wey hey!

The report at the business meeting of the 7th February, 2005 was that it was a real party night, thanks to the crew who worked so hard to make it all come together.

Before the Christmas Party, however, there was a small matter of twirling around villages in our catchment area with the newly refurbished Santa’s Sleigh. As the sleigh stopped off at Haltwhistle on the 16th, and in Allendale on the 18th, elvish collectors (Hilary and Pete Aldcroft, Fergus Sandison, Ann Bacon, Fran Wraith, June Thompson, Margaret Stonehouse, David Humes, Jonny Baynes, and Prue Newman) shook their tins, and people donated to help the Lions support good and needy causes near and far. Cliff Calvert performed Santa duties with aplomb!

After a final Santa twirl around Allenheads, the day after our Christmas Party, the next event, and the final one of the year for the Allendale Lions Club, would be a repeat attempt at an annual Carols in the Square which would also see a visit from that friendly Santa character in his famous sleigh.

2004 Public Service

Grab a Granny, Children in Need

The Allendale Lions ‘Grab a Granny’ mystery trip on 2nd December, 2004, was to the Metro Centre in Gateshead for a shopping extravaganza of delight.

The report in the minutes of our business meeting for the 6th of December was fulsome, so I’ll just paste it in here:

  • Our Grab A Grannie shopping trip to the Metro Centre was a success last Thursday 2nd, leaving Allendale at 1.30pm, with two ladies requiring wheelchair pushers for the duration.  Our ‘forward party’ of June, Ferg and Johnnie were deployed and met us with the requisite chairs.  The rest of the visitors were ‘absorbed’ into the Christmas shopping mayhem of the mall immediately, not to be seen again until departure at 6.30pm!  Whilst Margaret, Marion and Prue wheelied our less able folks, meeting with the forward party at 4pm for refreshments.  The ‘pushers’ did have a lapse into the ‘Pier’ for a ‘we while’(!),  but our visitors didn’t mind a jot and sat happily chatting until we emerged a few carriers heavier and beaming happily.  Fellow committee members who had been unable to wangle time off were on hand for our return to the marketplace, when we gave everyone a small box of Thornton’s and escorted home those who would let us!  We have one ‘thank you’ letter in from a senior, which I’ll give to Steph with the rest for inclusion in our scrapbook.  However…
  • We were unaware that we had clashed with someone in Catton who organises three trips a year for locals.  She had been unable to recover her costs because some of the ladies who frequent her trips came on ours instead.  (Indeed, quite a few of these same folks had been with us on our Mystery Trip this summer.)  The coach company she had used for years did not charge her the full amount so that she was not out of pocket.  Lessons to be learnt one way or another, and Ann asked that we write a conciliatory letter.

So it was a lovely trip, but almost a kind of stepping on another organiser’s toes. I’m sure the lessons were taken on board in a kind-hearted mannery.

Meanwhile, Lynda McGregor had got a bunch of Lions and friends together for the Children in Need walk from Broadwood Hall to Hexham’s Bridge End Inn on the 11th December. Steph Jamieson had collated a few photographs in the Lions scrapbook, and it’s a delight to present them in this blog entry. It was later reported, at our next business meeting 7th February, 2005, that £218 had been forwarded on to the Children-in-Need coffers.

The Christmas season was definitely upon us, and the good deeds had been accomplished. Time for some special spirit of the festive season, which looked like a Lions social do at Pebbles, Santa’s Sleigh, and Carols around the square. But which would be first?

2004 Bonfire Nights Lions Social Events

Bonfire, Party, Dance

There’s such a fizz in Prue Newman’s minutes of the Allendale Lions Club business meeting (the 14th) on the 1st of November, 2004.

Bonfire Night was only 4 nights away, and a gang of workers had been busy building a huge pile. Wardens, first aiders (Lynda McGregor and Julie Humes) were going to circulate around the field. To help with last minute collecting of appropriate items for immolation, volunteers were going to be needed, for which Michael Keene, Peter Aldcroft, George Newman and Graham Girvan had already added their names. Fergus Sandison and Colin Wraith would be helping out on the stall and site preparation all day on the 5th. The gang of igniters for up on the hill were all prepared.

We were all invited to the Baynes residence for an ‘After Bonfire Party.’ To protect Goosey Baynes’ floors, a change of footwear would be de rigueur.

[I parenthesise this paragraph because I don’t have any photographs of the actual fire of 2004, I’m afraid. Perhaps someone will have one or two of our first Lions bonfire, perhaps not. Just sending out a plea really. I’m confident there won’t be any photographs of the party at the Baynes house, but happy to be corrected, of course!]

And hot on the heels of the fire, the very weekend after the cleanup, Carrie Winger’s Jazz Dinner Dance was scheduled in the village hall. There was to be buffet beef provided by Margaret Stonehouse, salmon, salads and great entertainment, and it was going to be a tight squeeze as Nora Handcock’s annual Mini-Market would be occupying the hall until 4pm that Saturday, the 13th of November.

At the next business meeting, the first Monday of December, both of these events were the subject of a debrief. Trevor thanked everyone for their hard work on the bonfire night, which was looking like breaking even (not a surprise considering the cost of the fireworks). There was some consternation at the damage caused to Jan Symond’s garage roof, which had been penetrated by an errant rocket on the night. But overall the whole event was a delightful community event, much appreciated by all who attended.

The Jazz Dinner Dance too was hailed as another success, having made a profit for the Charity Account. We might repeat the event next year with a few changes: reduce the food commitment, for example, and thereby bring the cost of the ticket down (from £15).

Meanwhile, a couple of events in early December were grabbing our planning attention: the Grab-a-Granny affair for the 2nd, and the Children-in-Need Hike to Hexham on the 11th. In addition, there was the small matter of putting the Christmas lights up around the square. And then the social event at Pebbles on the 20th, the Chrtistmas Carols and Santa’s Sleigh on the 23rd and perhaps by the end of December the Lions, or at least those who would not be involved with the guisers and the Tar Bar’ls, might have a respite!

2004 Charity Auctions Lions Social Events Public Service

September Events

Wendy Innes shows off her balalaika skills

Back in 2004, Vladimir Putin was embarking on his campaign for re-election to his second term of office as President of the Russian Federation. This was some fifteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall which presaged the end of the Soviet Union and its hegemony in the region. It seemed that a different kind of Russia was awakening, open to the West and embracing support from EU member countries. Wendy Innes, a Northumbria University graduate in physiotherapy, spent eighteen months in the Ural region as part of her commitment to the VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), where she learned to play the balalaika.

A piece in the Chronicle described her activities, noting the upcoming tour by the Ural Gems, which Wendy’s parents Bill and Yvonne had organised to help raise money for the hospital at Ekatarinburg. It turned out that Allendale was the venue for the final concert of the mini-tour around the North East, and the Allendale Lions Club were the hosts for a delightful Russian Evening of music and cuisine.

We remember Maggie Shearer’s classic borscht, and then a dinner of possibly stew and various vegetables, accompanied by copious lashings of ultra-chilled vodka shots. After the dinner, a tumultuous balalaika concert was performed by the quartet of Ural Gems, straight from Russia, and by the end of the evening a final donation of £1000 had been raised to go directly towards funding better physiotherapy in the Ural region.

After such an evening, a real social affair with the double delight of raising money for what seemed to be an incredible good cause (not many people will remember that the Urals had been the site of a desperate nuclear accident, long before Chernobyl, and still bore the scars among its population), it was amazing that the Lions had sufficient energy reserves to concentrate on mobilising for the Charity Auction the following weekend.

But mobilise they did. The minutes of the business meeting of the 1st of November ’04 record that on this first village hall auction hosted by the Lions Club, Nigel Baynes auctioneered the entire day without a beer break, helping to raise a grand total of £3247 for good causes. That was in addition to the funds realised on the catering front by the ?Middle/?First School PTFA of some £300. But it was not an event that was ever likely to be memorialised with photographs. No, it was just another fund-raising effort put on by indefatigable Lions members who seemed to revel in philanthropic endeavour.

The photographs would have to wait for next year’s Charity Auction, 2005’s, which we shall hope to feature sometime later on in September here in this blog.

A year recapitulated in a month. That’s the idea of this blog, and there are only four more entries left in August to remember the incredible year that was 2004 in the history of the Allendale Lions Club.

2004 Public Service

The public service

Some three years after it opened to the public, Allendale Lions Club took a group of less able folks to visit the Gateshead and Newcastle quaysides and cross the Millenium Bridge.

Inadvertently tucked into the same photo archive file as the images from the Allendale Fair ’04, this shot of the Millenium Bridge is the only photographic memento I can find of the club’s first public service.

Fortunately, Steph Jamieson had saved a clipping from another introduction to the Allendale Lions featured in the Hexham Courant, which traced the journey in August ’04 from Allendale to Cullercoats and on to the quayside at Newcastle/Gateshead. In that article Club Secretary Prue Rushman waxed enthusiastic about the Allendale Lions public service event for older or disabled people. Her words make fascinating reading as an insight into the hopes and aspirations for community support that we all held in high regard.

‘This was a free mystery trip and we took 34 residents, who thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We covered a large area and one lady said she thought she’d never see the sea again, and many of them were delighted that they could see the Quayside as it is now, and the Millenium Bridge.

‘It is tremendous that we can provide these kinds of opportunities and the day was a great success. We hope to arrange other activities for the older people and the mystery trip will take place every year.

‘It is all about having fun and raising money. It takes in the energy and community spirit of the Dale which is fabulous.’

And so said all of us, as we thanked the friendly helpers and wheelchair pushers and in particular the Baynes Travel enterprise that had laid on the bus for the adventurous day trip.

There would be more public service ahead, as planning for a Charity Auction (it would be the second this year, after the successful auction in February of chattel from Deneholme) and the Russian Night grabbed club members’ attention.

2004 Lions Social Events

The Cumbrian Way

From some 50 images, it’s hard to choose a representative sample of this long trek in the Lake District, but these chosen few do help to illustrate the outset, and then the tiredness, the delight of achievement, and the rather long breaks in between the hard slogs.

Organised by David and Julie Humes, the trek included young and old, four-legged walkers as well as those on only two feet.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Cumbrian-Way-Walk-38-1024x768.jpg

This last photo in the gallery encapsulates I think, in light and shade, the joys of the journey and the happiness at arriving.

As social affairs go, the Cumbrian Way Walk seems to have been amongst the most successful of any events organised by the Allendale Lions, and this was still only our very first year!

A rather different foray had been experienced by several Lions members the week before the walk. The River Boat Shuffle down the Tyne turned out to be a kind of damp squib, aboard the South Shields ferry repurposed for an evening’s ersatz entertainment, with take-away fish and chips in soggy boxes and a general air of decay and harsh smells. I don’t think anyone had a good time on that evening, least of all the Allendale Lions!

So it was a good thing that the Cumbrian Way Walk was such a success, serving in particular to emphasise that we work best when we’re organising events ourselves.

2004 May Fairs

The local press welcomes Allendale Lions

Back in the day, the Allendale Fair was such big news it rated an entire page all to itself! Of course, that didn’t include the full page ad in the run-up, in addition to the copious images printed along with Joseph Tulip’s enthusiastic piece.

After all the celebrations, press clippings and the enthusiasm of the community, communicated at great length in the week after the Fair, it was probably a good month for us Lions to try to relax a little.

I understand that several of us were meant to be going to the ?Zone Meeting? on the 24th of June (no doubt carrying our copies of the Hexham Courant as bragging rights): the list as of our meeting on the 7th of June included: Julie, Graham, Carrie, Lynda, Stephanie, Terry, Trev and Prue. But I can find no debrief on this meeting. It turned out, however, that a somewhat larger cohort of us Lions did get to a Lions event in Corbridge, at their annual Tynedale Beer Festival: Graham, Julie, David, Cliff, Giles, Stephanie, Lynda, Larry, Carrie, Harry, Trevor, Prue, George and Joan! Prue reports in the minutes of 5th July that apparently there hadn’t been enough time to sample all the different beers (I recall one Tynedale Beer Festival at which well over 100 brews were on offer, so I guess not!). But most of those attending enjoyed a good boogie.

The next local get-together, however, was to have been at El Presidente’s barbecue held at Trevor and Prue’s place in Bardon Mill on the 26th of June. Prue reported that this ‘practise hand-over party’ was a good one, so that next year’s handover (ie after Trevor would have served for two years) should be a doddle!

Incidentally, to wrap up the report on this 5th July Business Meeting, we had a guest speaker at the beginning, one Wendy Innes, who spoke about her experience of physiotherapy in the Urals (or perhaps more appositely, the lack of it, and her philanthropic endeavours there). We thanked her kindly for talking about her passion, and naturally this presentation set us up nicely for a fund-raising effort (the famous Russian Quartet with Russian cuisine) on the 4th of September.

As July rolled along, however, it was time for more summer fellowship, about which a few notes in the next blog entry.

2004 May Fairs

Fun(d)-Raising and Fair

Prue writes about the report on our meeting 10th of May, 2004, in the final weeks before the Allendale Fair: “Julie and David’s brainchild ‘Nothing Like the Buzzcocks’ event on Friday night raised circa £430/gate, £650/bar, raffle and karaoke amounts TBA.  Thanks to Nige and all who made it happen.” We’re looking now for reminiscences about that event, please!

It seems, however, that a reasonable kitty of collateral was being built up against the anticipated Fair expenses, and then suddenly, seemingly without warning, but certainly we’d had plenty of advance notice . . . it was here, the Allendale Fair!

The strong men too were present in the square, and of course they attracted a large audience:

It looked, on the whole, to be a rather cloudy day, so the glowing shirts were definitely a brightener.

We could hardly forget that we held a Beer Festival in the square on the Bank Holiday Monday, of course, at which the Catton Line Dancers were a delightful entertainment between sips!

The formal Fair de-brief took place apart from the regular Business Meeting minutes, on the 14th of June; it’s difficult without contemporaneous notes to peer back into history to fillet out what the consensus on the event actually was. However, it’s probably fair! to note that the transition from West Tynedale Round Table to Allendale Lions Club, as sponsors and organisers, must have been a reasonably smooth proposition.

Moreover, given that the minutes of the actual Business Meeting, held the week just after the Fair, indicated enthusiasm for more events in future, although dates were yet to be confirmed, we’ll have to assume that our first Allendale Fair as Lions was a success. It was just that everyone was exhausted, and so nothing much got decided, really, on the 7th of June.

I was delegated to produce a report on the Fair for the Zone magazine, Spotlight, but as per usual, I can neither remember that immortal piece, nor lay my fingers on any such file. However, for the next blog entry, I shall see if Steph Jamieson’s clippings scrapbook holds any gems from the local press!

2004 May Fairs

Organising . . . and tabling

We had many ideas proposed, from the beginning of 2004 we Lions, but it must have felt, after our post-Charter meeting to debrief ourselves and visiting Lions, that the actual doing was faltering a bit throughout the following months of March and April.

Thus, for example, Nigel Baynes had invited Judith Parker, television producer, to chat with club members about her profession, at the Fair Committee meeting on the 22nd of March. These committee meetings did not elicit any recorded minutes, as far as I know, but they were crucial to the future success of any event which they planned. Prue notes that Judith gave a very interesting talk, as I’m sure she would have done. I have a local friend who worked in a producer role for BBC’s Look North, and one of the pieces his department commissioned was ‘Metro: The Musical‘ which in its pure schmaltz and effervescence is, to my mind, absolutely stunning. This production would have been created not much more than five years after Judith Parker’s presentation to our club, so perhaps it’s a salutary reminder of what a producer can do.

But someone was there, and some notes were actually taken!

For the rest of these two months, however, the work must have been going on behind the scenes, as things seemed to be being tabled, owing to insufficiency of time. Thus, although another reccy of the Dene was done, the huge amount of garbage and debris down there was so daunting to those who might have been able to work on the clean-up detail that they were put off with the sheer volume and labour that would be required. Perhaps another effort in the autumn might be attempted.

And Maggie Shearer’s Fellowship efforts, notably in the context of a pub crawl throughout the locals in the village, were also languishing. Perhaps later in the year such an evening might be accompanied by a Treasure Hunt. Or perhaps not.

Really, there was mostly one big event on everybody’s mind, coming up, and that was the preparation for the May Fair. I suspect that our minds were so concentrated on that, and on fund-raising events (more about the Buzzcocks next entry) and karaoke heats, that there was little room for anything else.

Sometime toward the end of April,, if not before, however, Stephanie must have delivered her delightful design for this year’s fair logo, and we all applauded her artistic effort. As I mentioned before, I’ve still got the tee shirt, rather faded, but intact!