2007 Public Service

2007 Wrap-Up

It’s a good thing that Nigel Baynes saved a copy in his carefully laminated archive, of the 2007 annual newsletter documenting all the Lions activities from the year. Otherwise, some of the salient things might have been missed in this month’s blog entries.

Things like, especially, the Golden Oldies trips. These are the ones we often called ‘Grab-a-Granny’ but they also included less able people with mobility difficulties. I think I was involved, to much hilarity from those folks who were familiar with the announcer’s patter, in a BINGO game on the way to the MetroCentre. I seem to remember the trip to Ullswater too, unless the one I’m remembering was in a different context with another mobility-challenged charge. Never mind, these trips were a wonderful public service effort, for sure, and they could never have been feasible without the assistance of the Baynes Travel team.

And unless I’m mistaken, there wasn’t space or indeed any images to include in the Charity Auction for this year, which raised the typical amount of circa £3,000 for good causes. So it’s brilliant that an end-of-year wrap-up, carefully compiled by Peter Aldcroft, was able to recapitulate these events. Not forgetting, of course, the social events the Lions held for themselves, which this past year involved a trip to the Black Sheep Brewery at Masham (educational of course, well noticed Pete) as well as a more strenuous hike around Wasdale.

And oh yes, that’s a lovely shot of Allendale in the snow, the new Christmas lights festooned on trees all around the place. We certainly managed to put a brilliant year together, didn’t we?

And then, after the annual Tar Bar’l parade and fire in the square, after the clean-up on New Year’s Day, it was time for 2008 to enter the picture. The doughty new club would be turning five years old by the time that new year turned into an old one.

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.

2007 Bonfire Nights Public Service

Bonfire Night 2007

It seemed like there was a lot to celebrate on Bonfire Night this year. It had been quite a time, all in all, in the life of the village of Allendale.

I imagine that Peter Aldcroft, as the incoming President of the Lions Club, did the honours by crawling into the tunnel of doom underneath the big pile and torching the diesel-soaked hay bale, before crawling safely out.

It’s a good thing that he did get out intact, because there was still the wrap-up newsletter to compose, documenting the events of the year just gone. That will be the subject of the final entry for this year, to be presented at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the fire burned, the fireworks lit up the sky (every year since the beginning of the Allendale Lions Club, Fergus Sandison was in charge of ordering in the rockets, and organising ‘the crew on the hill’), and children were still playing with sparklers. Nigel Baynes would have been calling the raffle before the second half of the rocket display, and the fire would be warming cold toes around the field.

I didn’t know then how much effort was involved in preparing the field for the bonfire, though doubtless I helped shift the turves on more than one occasion. Creating the huge pile of wooden detritus for the fire was also a great team-building exercise, especially since the robust positioning of the pallets to form the lighting tunnel was such a crucial component of the team-work.

Another thing that folks don’t much know is that the Lions never expect to make any profit on the night; all the proceeds from the gate takings, raffle and sales of food go to paying the expenses, and the Club always considers itself fortunate if the event breaks even.

It’s just, has always been, a philanthropic public service contribution by a bunch of community-minded folks.

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.

2007 Public Service

Village of the Year

With the blessing of the Parish Council, and spearheaded by a cheerful committee that recruited representation from just about every entity in the community (but especially thanks to the trustees of the village hall, the members of the Allendale Lions Club, and the support of the Fawside foundation), the big entry was put together, and the presentation to the regional judges was organised.

Now fifteen years hence, I’m just a bit confused as to whether the regional judges were presented with various facets of the community, on a kind of grand tour (for which Stephanie Atkinson provided a wonderful map), and then by virtue of that visit, when the village won its regional heat, whether that was the point when the national judges came to chat with all of the organisations, businesses, religious groups, and individual writers. It was one way or another, but the thing everyone remembers was that amazing day in the hall when so many groups could scarcely fit in, and everyone was eager to chat with the friendly judging panel.

As I recall, the judges were greeted by a lovely wheelbarrow full of flowers, a Fire-Fighting motorcycle, a brightly decorated automobile (thanks to one of the Youth Projects), and they entered the hall to the strains of the Northumbrian pipes, courtesy of Dorothy Lawrenson.

And then the chat, and we had to whirl the panel around so quickly, so that everyone could have a word. We managed to present every group, but the individual writers, who also contributed so much to their community, were only appreciated by their presence in the foyer. But sometimes good-natured presence is sufficient, and the judges were sent off in a timely manner. All done and dusted, and we could do no more.

The waiting was the hard part, but at some point in September, the word came through that Allendale had won the regional heats, and would the organisers and guests please attend the awards ceremony in London? But by the way, the message read, this information is embarged: do not breathe a word to anyone about this! So a train journey was scheduled, and a bunch of us travelled to London. I think it was John Dobson, Margaret Stonehouse, Carrie and Larry Winger, four of us.

Just before we went, BBC Look North sent a camera crew around to interview the organisers in the village hall. They asked Margaret Stonehouse to pretend, as I recall, that Allendale had actually won the national accolade: how would you feel, the presenter said. Of course, this all seemed highly suspicious, but nobody wanted to presume that these questions might mean what we suspected they meant.

In the event, however, a lovely awards luncheon spread was put on, with a guest speaker in the guise of a celebrity chef, and through the pre-lunch chatter the tinkling notes of the Northumbrian pipes (a duet of Dorothy and Lizzie Lawrenson) rippled around the room. It was all feeling incredibly auspicious.

When the time came for the final award, however, it was still an amazing surprise and we felt so shocked and incredibly honoured. Then it was time to celebrate, and one of the best moments of the week following the ceremony was the gathering of everyone in the square for the photo opportunity. Jonny Baynes formed the fifth member of the Lions Club contingent at the front of the photograph.

I’m so glad that Nigel Baynes stored this front page clipping in his unique archive, and it’s a real delight to present this entry, some fifteen years later, as part of this social history blog.

2007 Beer Festivals

Beer Festival 2007, continued . . .

What fun, in the giant marquee, as the barbecue helpers (Christine Sherwood, Fran Wraith, Ann Potter, joined in another snap below by Rosemary Granger) smile for the camera. Another set of bar staff have stepped up (looks like Fergus Sandison and Mark Adams, in addition to Terry Page still serving).

Meanwhile, there’s also the book stall and the lager and wine service. Hilary Aldcroft is cajoling a prospective book buyer, while Michael Keene has joined the bar staff. Everyone’s mighty impressed with Fergus’s pulled half-pint!

There was so much to enjoy at this inaugural stand-alone festival. It felt so delightful to share the Agricultural Show’s tent, and to really identify and understand what the community is all about.

Should this sort of thing be an annual affair? Everybody thought so!

2007 Beer Festivals

Beer Festival 2007

The publicity machine was in full force, at the beginning of August, in preparation for the first stand-alone beer festival in Allendale.

Possibly because we liked the beer tent component of an earlier May Fair, and missed it at this year’s event, or possibly because we thought we might have a go at emulating the Tynedale Lions Club’s huge beer festival at the Corbridge Rugby Ground, but for whatever reason we thought we should try an independent event in the marquee that we could share with the Agricultural Society down at their showground.

And so, with superlative help from Allendale Brewery, we did. And then, because we could, we added extras, like live bands and barbecue. We weren’t bothered about the weather, which as I recall was not particularly kind, because the whole event was under canvas, and power for the amplifiers came from the Show Ground facility.

And the crowds came out to enjoy the day! The friendly bar staff lined up to serve the thirsty samplers: Terry Page, Mark Adams, Graham Girvan and Michael Keene, under the watchful supervision of Jim Hick of the brewery.

More on the big festival in the next blog entry, as Nigel Baynes’ archive yields up a treasure trove of memories for us all to enjoy.

2007 Charter Events (annual) Personalities

The 2007 Hand-Over

So the Presidents of the Allendale Lions Club, so far, have been Trevor Newman (Charter President ’03/’04); Margaret Stonehouse ’05; Rosemary Granger ’06. As reported in the Hexham Courant, duly archived in plastic sleeves by Nigel Baynes, Peter Aldcroft took over in the summer of ’07 from Rosemary, who handed over the badge of office while remarking on the plethora of activity we’d managed to accomplish during the past year.

Typically, the president of the club serves as Vice-President for the previous year, and the office rotates through the membership. It’s lovely to be reminded of the way our local weekly paper used to accommodate interesting news from the districts, back in the day. Those times are a thing of the receding past, now, so it’s important to remember just how much publicity the Lions managed to generate, when the print opportunity was there.

I remember the eagerness with which the paper was received, late Thursday afternoon, and reading through my weekly Allen Valley news column to discover what snippets survived the copy editor’s red pen. Heady days. Sometimes, and more times than this blog can accommodate, Nigel Baynes even archived my own immortal words, to my continuing surprise as I leaf through his memorabilia legacy.

But for this issue of the Courant, the very fact of a hand-over was sufficient for a priceless, smiling photograph and a lovely piece accompanying it. I suspect, though I’m happy to be corrected, that it was Peter himself who wrote the press release for this news item, and if so, very well done too, Pete!

On the other hand, those were the days when cub reporters spreading out from Hexham would regularly visit the ‘Dale, notebook in hand, and take shorthand dictation from the interviewees, and furthermore, a photographic opportunity was usually quickly scheduled. We didn’t know how blessed we were, back then, did we?

2007 Lions Social Events

The Wasdale Ramble

Julie and David Humes were the primary organisers of the walking adventures in the early days of the Allendale Lions Club, and as far as I can determine, Nigel Baynes was the official photographer of many of these events. No doubt the adventurers were carried to their embarkation point on a Baynes bus.

It seems to me, though I may be mistaken, that the participants in this group photograph were Doug Ness, Davey, Julie, Margaret Stonehouse, Jane Peach, Peter Aldcroft, Stephanie Atkinson, Trevor Newman, and Ray Bather. And two friendly doggies.

These walks seem to have been a great team-building exercise, imbuing the participants with great esprit de corps, and energising them to participate in even more philanthropic activities during the autumn season ahead.

As we shall see (peering into the future as we can, thanks to the time-travelling capacity of this social history blog), walks of one sort or another have punctuated the local Lions’ experience right through to the present day.

2007 Public Service

Allendale Kite Festival

With special thanks to kiting enthusiast John Dobson, this festival was a brilliant surprise!

Lions Club member John Dobson brought his kite pals out to Churchlands, and basically organised the whole shebang himself, to the delight of the Lions who were amazed that one person could do so much.

As Margaret Stonehouse had opined at the outset, one thing you can say for Churchlands is that the wind hardly ever stops, and so it transpired on the weekend. Soon dozens of kites were flying from the high fellside, and traffic queued to get onto the site and enjoy the aerial spectacle. The real kite flyers hunkered down, once their kites were in the air, and enjoyed a cup of tea, as I recall.

Perhaps a burger in a wholesome bap, and even a visit to the beer tent catered by Allendale Brewery; nobody seemed too bothered about the possibility of kite flyers under the influence of alcohol!

It was a great event, everyone agreed, with proceeds after covering the professional kite flyers’ expenses, going into the Lions Club charity account for later distribution to good causes. I’m pretty sure that we sent up a teddy bear or two ourselves, who then parachuted down safely. What great, simple fun!

I don’t know if we all sang that famous Mary Poppins song, Let’s Go Fly a Kite, but we surely should have. Afterwards, I recall the Lions were falling over themselves (and it wasn’t the beer, honest!) to thank John for the brilliant idea and the great weekend.