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.

2009 2010 Public Service

Carols in the Square, 2010 of 2009?

Those photographs that Peter Aldcroft mentioned in the first Lions business meeting of 2010? The ones that featured our annual Carols in the Square? It’s likely that this photograph presented in the 2010 Tynedale Christmas Guide, a handy pull-out in the weekly Hexham Courant, was one of those. I do seem to recall that the Courant managed to be a year late on one such image, and it was probably this one.

If nothing else, this page from ‘the present’ of ‘the past’ proves that the events did take place, though it’s not crystal clear that this photo really is of the 2009 event. I’m intrigued too, to clock the carol sheets, which as might be self-evident from the squinting going on, were printed in quite the smallest font possible. I couldn’t wait to create an easier-to-read A4 on card, to facilitate better scanning! But that was to come at a later Carol session, further ahead in the future.

I wonder if I can find a pdf of that file for that later entry, and I wonder too when the bigger font came into play. But at any rate, we can be assured that the traditional Carols in the Square would have been among the very last events presented by the Allendale Lions Club in 2010.

So 2011 is just around the corner, as the ‘noughties’ finish and . . . and, what decade is this one coming on? Some publications will, by the time 2021 comes, call it the ‘Lost Decade’ but as we look ahead, it feels like anything but ‘lost.’

We have exciting times ahead, surely! We as a club will be only some seven years old, or eight during 2011, if you count the organising meetings in the autumn of 2003. But what is also true is that we are, each of us, getting older.

2009 Public Service

The New Bar at the Village Hall

At some p0int during the autumnal months of 2009, at least according to the minutes of the first business meeting of 2010, the new bar was constructed in Allendale Village Hall, as presented to the community by the Allendale Lions Club.

It had taken years of planning to move the bar from its infelicitous position jostling with the food service area in front of the kitchen to a better placement on the other side of the room. The Lions funded the construction of the new bar, which included both a service counter for the fonts and handpumps, and a back counter for the spirits and till. But after an incredibly efficient and professional joinery effort by tradesmen in Trevor Newman’s sphere of influence, I could report to the Lions that the bar was built and was working well.

Possibly its first function would have been to serve at one of the early New Year’s Eve Ceilidhs, and then again for the annual Burns Night Supper around about the 25th of January in the new year of 2010. As time went by, of course, new fonts and services would be added to the framework of the counters (the image above was actually taken five years later, but in my photo library there doesn’t seem to be any record of the original completed work).

Apparently, however, I did make a request for a collective design for the plaque for the back wall, to commemorate the Lions’ contribution. Not receiving any submissions, I pinched a grey frame from one of Nigel Baynes’ cupboards, and created a small memento.

It made sense, of course, to have a dedicated bar area, since by that point the hall had become a fully licensed premises, and Graham Girvan and I were each Personal Alcohol Licence holders. That was a handy licence to have!

Meanwhile, a new bar seemed like as good a way to round out the year as any other, with special thanks to the Allendale Lions for making the facility possible.

2009 Business Meetings Fundraising

Business Meeting

Since there appears to be only the one set of minutes extant from 2009, it makes sense to feature them in the blog!

The most salient bit of information, I think, at this meeting was the report from Ann Potter that she alone, running for the Alzheimer’s Society in the Great North Run, had raised over £1000 pounds! Such a brilliant effort! We were all so proud for her.

Meanwhile, money in the Lions’ Charitable Account was getting relatively tight. Doug Ness, Treasurer, reported that there was some £3,671 available (mind that this was after the Beer and Bands Festival a couple months earlier, and the annual Charity Auction in September!), of which we needed to ring-fence £2000 towards next year’s May Fair. Meanwhile, there were four funding requests awaiting the Lions’ Board Meeting to develop proposals.

Fund-raising efforts over the next few months would be concentrated on Bonfire Night (which typically managed just about to break even), the growing Book Stall to be staffed at the Mini-Market in the village hall, and the Santa’s Sleigh twirls throughout the region with the elves shaking collection tins.

It seemed possible that we needed to re-consider where our best efforts on behalf of the community might be positioned, but with the Bonfire Night only days away, it would be all hands to the deck as new volunteer food preparers and servers were brought in.

And Santa’s Sleigh would be occupying our efforts after the Book Stall shifting had taken place, so there was lots to be getting on with. Just that nagging reckoning that we weren’t bringing in much revenue for distribution to good causes, lately, and what could we be doing about that?

John Dobson reported, with a nod to publicising what the Lions have been doing, that he had taken over the website and would be giving a demonstration of it at our next meeting. And the reports on the pub walk to Haltwhistle, which seems like a rather long trek, suggested that a good time had been had by all who participated.

Apparently there was a break in the meeting proceedings then, as members refilled their glasses from the bar, and there must have been a kind of conversational buzz thereafter because no further business matters were discussed.

Finally the regular toast to LCI (Lions Club International) was raised, and the next meeting, the first Monday of December, would likely see a de-brief on the Bonfire Night activities.

2009 Beer Festivals Fundraising

The Beer & Bands Festival, 2009

The eponymous Beer Festival had been re-branded, this year of 2009, in an attempt I suspect to attract more folks to the event. I don’t know whether the re-branding exercise was deemed to have been successful, or not.

Certainly we all agreed that the Show Ground was the ideal place for such an event, with loud music all afternoon and into the early evening, yet unlikely to disturb too many neighbours. And the opportunity to share the marquee(s) with the Agricultural Show Committee, on the Sunday right after the Show, was too good to pass up.

If I’m not mistaken, this was the year that the lager and cider on tap foundered. I remember this because I borrowed the dispensing equipment, including gas valves, from the village hall bar. Whether the products were too old, going off, or the gas pressure was just wrong and the anti-fobbing devices weren’t working, or whatever, all we could elicit from the fonts was foam. Copious lashings of foam. In the end, we had to retreat to offering chilled cans of Fosters, but to be honest, nobody really seemed to mind. It was just embarrassing to me.

Meanwhile, I believe the barbecue and food service was doing a good trade, and of course the original point of the exercise, showcasing of fifteen real ales from nine breweries, held true. And the bands played on.

I wonder, placing myself in the perspective of 2009, if we’ll be able, as Lions, to keep going with these Beer Festivals, if the financial return is not commensurate with the effort. If the fund-raising is not substantial, I can see that this event might be something that falters. The Tynedale Lions hold an annual Beer Festival in the Corbridge Rugby Club grounds, where they serve some 115 different real ales, and offer many bands for entertainment over an entire weekend. This festival elicits dozens of thousands of pounds in revenue for the club.

We hoped for some significant fraction of that return, but as I recall we never reached more than perhaps a tenth. The friendly bus service put on for the afternoon was not well subscribed, I do seem to remember that dismay.

Well, we’ll just have to see how things turn out, shall we?

2009 Lions Social Events Personalities

Handover 2009

Hard as it is to believe, as hard as we thought we were working, we found we could work still harder, back in the day. Not content with merely baking bread and opening the Allendale Bakery Café, Carrie Winger thought she might be useful in the President’s role for the Allendale Lions Club. Perhaps an ulterior motive was the idea that some meetings might thereby be held in the new café.

Whatever the gambit, the publicity surrounding the handover was a surprise to many in the community. ‘Who was the blonde beside Peter?’ was a common refrain. Carrie was dressed and decorated against the type of her normal persona, but it was refreshing to see her out of the utilitarian baker’s apron and hat.

Margaret Stonehouse and I were jointly taking on the role of vice-president; member recruitment would be an important component of the job. I distinctly remember creating a pocket sort of card to press into the hand of possible new members, as a kind of outline of what the Lions Club of Allendale actually does. Unfortunately, I cannot find any record of the little card today.

I do remember Ann Potter remarking, relative to the mission statement we’d developed for the coming year: ‘Quiet, Unassuming Service’ or some such humble verbiage; that she’d believe the ‘quiet’ part when she saw it! We Lions were never really very shy with coming forward about our accomplishments, of course.

Since the handover event was held in July, that meant that the annual Beer Festival, to which Peter Aldcroft refers in the publicity clip, was imminent in August.

More work ahead then! No rest for the weary, but you know, we loved it, we did.

2009 Personalities

Thanks Christine

It was going to be a fizzy Charter Night, this one, on something like the fifth anniversary of the inception of the Allendale Lions Club, and Christine Sherwood had a super inspiration: a Murder Mystery Evening! A combination of a social affair and some intriguing fun at the same time.

Who would be murdered, and who might the suspects be? It was certainly going to be mysterious!

Sometimes the best laid plans and all that . . . possibly there just wasn’t enough interest in the evening, but for whatever reason, rather late in the day, the membership decided not to go ahead with the Charter Night after all. So Peter’s fulsome certificate referenced the earnest attempt, with a kind of wry smile: these things happen, and the Fun and Games organising for this Allendale Lions Club is not often a smooth road.

Indeed, looking both backwards and forwards, as we can do while reminiscing about these years in the club’s development, you can see that the idea of ‘fun’ means/has meant different things to different folks. For some of us, the actual fun was getting out and making a difference in the life of the village. Having a personal ball ourselves, maybe not so much. Maybe sometimes the sense of service took over from the sense of shared camaraderie that can result when we’re just socialising.

For whatever reason, with this year’s Charter Night Celebration cancelled, it was on with the service. But that someone tried to enjoin us to enjoy our shared company, to relax and have fun together, that was worthy of commendation, and Peter’s thanks to Christine for the effort was definitely genuine.

2009 Personalities

Thanks Davey

David Humes became Health & Safety Officer for the Allendale Lions Club rather early on in the organisation’s existence. I don’t know about his resemblance to Danny DeVito, as Peter Aldcroft’s Certificate suggests, but his conscientiousness on matters of public safety was salutary.

As increasing stringency was imposed on public activities, for which licenses are often required from the District and later the County Council, a Risk Assessment exercise became de rigueur for each event. It didn’t matter, in these cases, that the club had held the event many times before. The issue was: what planning has the club in place for when things go wrong? What sorts of things might go wrong? How would members keep the attending public safe?

Nowhere was this Health and Safety activity more important than on Bonfire Night, for obvious fire and fireworks reasons. But the annual Fair, too, held in the Market Square, which the Lions carried on after the Roundtable had finished their efforts, was more fraught with health and safety issues than the general public might be aware of.

The marquee, for example, one year had to be roped to a pair of Land Rovers to keep it from blowing away! I’m not entirely sure that this contingency had been considered, in the annual Risk Assessment, but it was covered, nevertheless. It always helped to have a Health & Safety Officer in charge of matters that might affect the public, and this consideration also became more and more necessary to allow the club to avail itself of the national insurance protection secured by Lions Clubs UK.

So the job that Davey fulfilled, like so many others working quietly in the club, was another sort of unsung and unglorified position that was nevertheless crucial to the ongoing capacity of our services to continue.

In a back-handed way then, President Pete was leading the cheering for a job capably performed, and so often unremarked.

2009 Personalities

Thanks Dave

Dave Stott was a brilliant friend of the Allendale Lions Club, from long before he became a member, as Peter Aldcroft’s fun certificate notes. Indeed, I can’t remember Dave’s karaoke efforts, but I remember his work on our behalf at the Allendale Recycling Centre, otherwise known as ‘the tip.’

Back in 2009, and before, as waste sites became recycling points, and rubbish dumping was more stringently monitored, new rules were brought in by the council and the private enterprises that were engaged to run the centres. One of the most shocking rules to many of us in the community was the barring of pickup trucks, or larger trailers carrying rubbish for disposal.

Attendant on that rule was the issuing of certificates, permission slips for the privilege of bringing material into the skips. These certificates could be had from the council, and admittance to the premises was forbidden without such bona fides. Such a kerfuffle it all was, and such consternation among the regular depositors. Patient Dave was often in solitary charge of the Recycling Centre, and he had to field umbrage and disappointment time and time again.

Somehow, and I’m not quite sure how it all happened, he and I struck up a friendly acquaintance. Perhaps he was impressed at the amount of empty bottles I would bring to the bottle banks (overwhelmingly from events held at Allendale Village Hall, but a good proportion of our own as well). But as I recall Dave was particularly impressed by the devoted service of our local philanthropic club, and the long-suffering efforts we all engaged in, on behalf of the community . He mentioned this to me, a couple of times, before I twigged: he might like to be a member too!

So Dave became a beloved member of the Allendale Lions Club, and his kindness and grace on the red-tape matters that inevitably accompanied our recycling efforts will long be remembered by Lions.

Rather longer, I suspect, than his karaoke efforts! But all good things must come to an end, and when he handed in his notice, as he and Margery embarked on their new adventure in Turkey, where they’d bought themselves a retirement villa, we were all so sad to see him go.

Prince of Skips, indeed!

2009 Personalities

Thanks Ann

Ann Potter, after three years of sterling service as Secretary of the Club, realised that other service duties (especially the weekly lunches at Catton Methodist Chapel, as I recall), were requiring her special attention. Family duties too, to say nothing of the half-marathon that is the Great North Run in Newcastle upon Tyne, were weighing rather heavily upon her.

So, intermittently and attendant on other responsibilities, club members have needed to divest themselves from Lions volunteer efforts. I remember well Ann’s succinct comment, when as Membership Officer during Carrie Winger’s term as President, I tried to create an ethos of ‘quiet, unassuming service.’ She chortled, in some delight, that of all the clubs in the community, the Allendale Lions Club had never been shy in coming forward with news of their activities! How right she was, and how delighted we always were when news of this or that service was publicised.

But there are, or have been, roles within the organisation that do require selflessness and a quiet devotion to the duty taken on. None more so, I’d have thought, than that of Secretary. We forget that over the years, the record of our service, our thoughts and deliberations, has been carefully maintained, in the monthly minutes of our business meetings, so that future tribes of adventurous Lions can look back and share our delight. That would be an impossibility, a story lost in the mists of time, were it not for the painstaking minute-taking, and dissemination.

Indeed, this social history blog owes a great deal to those minutes, as it attempts to create a hold-in-your-hand volume describing our ‘golden years’ as a club.

Memory is a moveable feast, but the particular delight of formal minutes is that we know what we did, what we said and even what we thought, through the narrative provided by an indefatigable secretary.