2012 Business Meetings

The New Minutes Format

The last business meeting of 2012 saw our club visited by District Governor (of Lions Clubs UK) John Sutherland and wife Denise. By this time, the new minutes format was becoming embedded, and everyone was delighted at the way our discussion items were presented. Apparently the new format had not yet incorporated an attendance record (members would be noted by their initials, as in the ‘Action by’ section).

We Lions agreed to enjoy a buffet for our Xmas party on the 21st of December upstairs in the Golden Lion, a couple days after the annual Carols in the Square event. The re-written carol sheet was expected to make its first appearance, which was hoped would be a blessing to those with decreasing short-sight capacity!

District Governor Sutherland warned us that requests for funds for regional flood victims (York District) would be imminent. Apparently, all the trees around the village have been lit up with the light festoons fixed by Terry working with the cherry picker, but there is one more to festoon before that job is complete.

The reporting of DG Sutherland’s closing remarks bears many of the hallmarks of my own writing (hmmm) but the recording secretary for this set of minutes is nameless. Of salient interest is the new DVD which describes the story of Lions Clubs International, which DG Sutherland presented to President Richard Snowden. The minutes note that Jimmy Saville’s presence has been carefully expunged (the scandal must have broken over the past year?) and drily comment: ‘Thus history is subtly manipulated to gratify the present.’ I’m confident that these were my immortal words of wisdom, but I’d be delighted to be corrected!

2012 Bonfire Nights

Bonfire Night, 2012

To be honest, the spectacular Bonfire and Fireworks Displays in Nigel Baynes’ field, always held on the 5th of November, regardless of rain or conflict with other similar events, were much the same, year in and year out.

But the crowds kept coming, the Lions kept putting on the show, and the endless preparation for the event (turf cutting; stacking; bonfire building; planning; lights distribution up the lane; barricades put up with safety lines; hospitality marquees) kept us Lions occupied for weeks before and after. Oh yes, there was always an after: getting all the remaining pieces burnt; raking up the cinders; clearing the ground with the magnetic rake of most of the ferro-metallic components left over from the fire; shifting the big trailer back into position with its load of rolled turves; replacing all the turves in appropriate lines.

By the time the field had recovered, it was probably time for the following year’s preparation. Indeed, I recall, though Nigel tried to shift the fire from one place to the next, the turf cutter (kindly supplied by Trevor Newman) sometimes revealed scorched earth underneath the grown-up turves, the soot from previous years’ extravaganzas exposed once more to view.

But it would be several more years before I took an active interest in the clearing up, though there were many more volunteers back in the day. It was always hardest putting things back in rainy weather, though folks knew that the grass appreciated the squelch.

2012 Charity Auctions

The Charity Auction, 2012

I remember Margaret Stonehouse’s delight when her highly imaginative advertisement for the 2012 Charity Auction saw the light of day. Who else but Steptoe could bring hens’ teeth, bulls’ lugs, and bees’ knees together (!and, with her First in English, provide the right placement of the apostrophes!).

No doubt she had some help from the redoubtable Nigel Baynes, maybe on the kipper’s knickers? Anyway, the Courant accepted the ad, and it was the talk of the little town for quite some time.

Rather late in the season, but just in time to generate much-needed replacement funds for the fireworks that would go up into the air only a fortnight later, the Charity Auction always inspired us Lions to some of our most energetic endeavours.

2012 Public Service

The cheque to Josie’s Dragonfly Trust

Considering the growth and reach of Josie’s Dragonfly Trust over the succeeding years since it was founded, in the year she died (2007), up until the present (this blog was created during 2022/2023), it was a privilege to have been able to help out in the earlier days, as this photograph of the big cheque from the Allendale Lions Club shows.

I’ve noticed that many of these photos of funding distribution seemed to have been placed in front of the Allendale Co-operative Society shop. Isn’t that so apposite, though, to reflect the cooperation among the Allen Valleys community in shared pursuit of a common goal.

Of the photograph, you just have to love the smiles, don’t you! Sometimes the Allendale Lions have been criticised for excessive self-congratulation, but on occasions when a big cheque was handed over, it felt like honest pride in our contribution.

Inevitably, as this archive of our social history is laid down online, in bits and pieces of blog entries, photographs and reminiscences, there’s a feeling of tristesse, of nostalgia for those times, which were so very good, so very innocent and earnest. That, at least, was how it felt, how it feels today, looking back.

One of the remits for this social archive, however, is the investigation of how organisations develop, how they mature and grow, and also how attrition affects us all, how such groups wane as well.

By the autumn of 2012, the club was embarking on its tenth year of existence, if you count its formative year from early meetings in September, 2003. The subsequent decade would test the capacity of the ageing members that remained.

2012 May Fairs

Allendale Fair 2012

There was something about Georgina Welton that captured that special moment in the life of Allendale Fair. The 2012 May Fair (almost always held in June, of course) was at least the second fair in which the main photograph printed by the Hexham Courant, in its reprise of all the action, featured George in full performance mode on the karaoke. But then, dressed up as the Queen, what better way to capture the photographer’s attention! As it was, Anna Harrison took home the top prize in the Junior Karaoke Final, though it was inevitable that George again received the Jock McConnochie trophy for her presentation.

It was cool, too, to see the delightful feature on the Allendale scarecrows sharing the page. Such a lot of interesting things happened in 2012 in the vibrant village!

A lot of the effort in the 2012 fair was put toward raising funds for Josie’s Dragonfly Trust, a local charity set up by Josie’s parents in 2007 after she died at the age of 16 from cancer. [Today, in 2023, the Dragonfly Trust is a nationwide charity dealing with the fallout of terminal cancer diagnosis, and palliative care, for children and young adults up to the age of 25, and their family members].

As local reporter Robert Gibson noted, the now-traditional Allen Valley Striders race, and fun run, as well as the Strong Man competition, complemented the Karaoke Finals on Fair Day.

But the Fair, celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, had more in store, with an Allendale Churches Together coffee morning in the marquee, and a performance by the Dale Singers, on Sunday.

Monday saw an Arts and Crafts session for the youngsters, and then a shared Scarecrow Stomp in the village hall to round off the Scarecrow Competition.

It all seemed like a special weekend within a cohesive and friendly community, even though, as Nigel Baynes thoughtfully noted, it really was a freezing day outside.

Not a problem for the warm hearts that populated the square, of course.

2012 May Fairs

Preparations for the Fair, 2012

Ah yes, that was the year of the Golden Jubilee, wasn’t it? Sixty years of the reign of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and of course, the Allen Valley Drama Group were not going to let such an opportunity pass by without comment.

So their big presentation, Saturday evening of the big Fair Day (itself only one day out of the four day weekend fest), was to be ’60 Years of Allendale’. The show promised to be so great they had to put it on twice!

As Margaret Stonehouse had mentioned at our Business Meeting beginning of April, things were indeed well in hand for the festivities. I also remember a big cake, created by Carrie at Allendale Bakery, in the shape and decoration of a huge royal postage stamp, which was cut and distributed to everyone in the square at some point. No doubt the baking effort started shortly after the appearance of this full-page advertising feature in the Hexham Courant.

The Courant did try to be beneficent towards Allendale, featuring salient images from previous fairs with a nod towards the coming event. Of course, the full page was paid for by all the enterprises advertising their wares and services, but the space for publicity, the column inches within the page, was always golden.

How much we depended on the local paper, and how eager we were to see what was news, every Thursday late afternoon, so that some of us were there at the MarketPlace waiting for the delivery of the wrapped parcels, the bundles of some 600 papers (can you believe it!) and the kind opening of the first one by Elsie.

Those days were magical, really, and it’s not just me who fondly remembers them, I’m sure. As immediate and in-your-face as the social media of 2023 is (the perspective from which I’m writing), it feels like there’s something missing today that we had in abundance, if we only recognised it, back in the day.

2012 Public Service

Re-decorating the hall, 2012

We tend, I reckon, as a club to forget how much earnest effort and indeed funds, we’ve generated to put to good use. Even though we are also in the business of self-promotion and we have always tried to announce our philanthropic efforts with pride.

But some five years after the Calor Village of the Year invigilators visited Allendale, and exclaimed over our amazing colour schemes (both Deneholme and Allendale Village Hall had benefited from the interior design expertise of Maggie Shearer), the hall was looking shabby. I’d forgotten myself how it was that the Lions Club stepped up once again to fund the decoration and enhance the presentation of the hall. But minutes tend not to lie, and those of the Business Meeting in April, 2012, indicate how important the Lions’ contribution actually was:

Hot, it seemed, on the heels of funding another outside bin, I was asking the Lions to fund the entire re-decoration inside the hall. And of course, in times of need, and because everyone recognised the incredible resource the hall was, and how it needed to be presentable to be self-sustaining, the club agreed to the proposal.

Thank you, Lions Club of Allendale, for your very special support of this community facility!

2012 Fundraising May Fairs

The Karaoke Heats are on . . .

Davy Humes sent along these delightful images of a Karaoke Heat in action at a local pub, in response to my plea for images of Lions activities from 2012 onwards. I like them because they’re so of the moment.

Not a huge crowd, perhaps, but fun nevertheless. I think it’s these sorts of images, fuzzy, blurred and full of life, that help to encapsulate the ambience of those times. The great thing about the Karaoke Heats, so many of which I missed, was the developing buzz, the sense of enthusiasm looking ahead to the final in the square on Fair Day. And that sense was such a wonderful word-of-mouth promotion that today’s facebook PR cannot quite replace.

But times do change, and what worked well back in the late winter of 2012 might founder a decade or more hence. Isn’t it a delight, though, to remember those times, even while everything as I write is in the final frenzy of preparing for the 2023 Allendale Fair (ie the 22nd of July!).

2012 Fundraising

The Proper Boys

I can’t remember helping on this gig, but it’s most likely that I was behind the bar, so I may not have heard much, if the gig was as busy as it promised to be.

To be fair, although the Lions installed the bar on the other side of the New Hall for the good of the community (and especially the village hall itself which benefited rather dramatically from the increased revenue), these promotions evenings also had a potential to raise funds for the charitable purposes espoused by the club. On this particular evening, I would have been wearing a metaphorical Lions hat, but I’d also have made sure that a reasonable bar fee was extracted from the profits to help support the village hall as well.

Apparently, from a careful reading of the minutes of the business meeting following this gig, 5th March, 2012, the evening was a great success, and everyone involved was effusive in thanking each other. The consensus was that this kind of event should be built upon. Perhaps there was too much of what some felt to be self-congratulation, as emails praising this and that individual were filling up members’ mailboxes, causing some consternation. Our role, it was agreed, was to serve, rather than to pat ourselves on the backs for the effort.

Nevertheless, we were all delighted to have generated a profit of £768.66 on the night, which boosted the charity account to just over £5k with a few outstanding expenses. With the funds in hand, we agreed that a budget of £2500 for this year’s Allendale Fair would be acceptable.

There was, however, an intriguing historical footnote tucked into the Publicity Officer’s report at this March ’12 meeting. After due consideration, while recognising that the preliminary promotion of the Proper Boys gig on Facebook may have contributed to the general buzz about the event, we decided that a Facebook page was not for us, but that we would concentrate on our own website. It would, apparently, take several more years before we Lions decided that we could be ready to face up to social media!

2012 Burns Nights Fundraising

New Business . . . 2012

The first set of minutes that I can find for 2012 are those of our Business meeting of February. It seems that the main topic of the evening concerned two of the Lions’ promotions: the annual Burns Night just gone, and the forthcoming gig at the village hall with The Proper Boys.

As I recall, I pushed the envelope, rather, to create a song book and programme for the evening celebrating Robbie Burns, and populated its pages with a variety of iconic Burns memorabilia. This image shows the witches cavorting as described in the immortal Tam O’ Shanter.

The report at the Business Meeting suggested that a great time was had by all, sure enough, with the piper, the food and the planned extra space for dancing much appreciated. The main discussion, however, dealt with the issue of payment for the caterer. Essentially, the problem seems to have been that the matter of costs and labour had not been specified, so that the free-flowing cash distributed on the night (eg from bar takings) for the waiting-on staff was not properly controlled. Since the caterer was not part of the Lions Club, but had been taken on to give the catering Lions a break, a few communications had broken down. It was hoped that these matters could be resolved in time for the next meeting. Prue, however, was pleased with the brown envelope raffle and reported that this new system had worked very well, eliciting more cash than usual.

The consensus in the Club was that the whole financial apparatus surrounding Burns Nights needed to be tightened up, so this would doubtless be a priority for next year. It’s also fair to note that the balance of the Charity Account, after the Burns Night do (but possibly before all outstanding invoices were paid) stood at £4,359.79, so that there appeared to be a reasonable amount of money in the coffer with which the club could go ahead with plans for the May Fair, and charitable donations.

Another potential money-spinner for the Charity Account coffers, however, was the upcoming Proper Boys gig, which marked a new venture for the Lions Club, also to be held in the village hall. Apparently the promotions were well in hand, but to break even some £600 would have to be raised (tickets were going at £10 each).

There was some consternation within the club over the advance publicity circulating on facebook. News had reached Allendale of event crashes when similar events had been publicised on the new and emerging social media. Our media-savvy members agreed that they would look into the facebook issue and report back at the next meeting.