History of the Chipping Sodbury Lions Club
The International Association of Lions Clubs was the sole dream of a Chicago insurance man, Melvin Jones.
On 17th June 1917 at his invitation 20 delegates representing over 30 business clubs met at the Hotel La Salle in Chicago with the consensus favouring the formation of an association that would act for the betterment of their communities and the world at large. Lionism had been born and following the drafting of the Objects and Ethics the first International Service Organisation was set to work.
The Association later adopted the emblem with a lions head on either side, one facing the past and one the future with a centrally located letter L. The chosen colours were purple (for loyalty) and gold (sincerity & generosity towards mankind).
These formed the basis for todays Lions badge so proudly worn by many thousands of members all around the world.
Having grown significantly in the USA Lionism rapidly spread to other nations first arriving in Europe in 1948 when a club was formed in Sweden.
1950 was to see the first club established in the UK, this being the London Host Club. Since then the number of clubs in UK has grown to approximately 1000 with a membership of some 20,000 Lions.
Chipping Sodbury Lions Club.
Lionism arrived in the West Country in September 1959 with the formation of the Gloucester Lions Club. By 1970 several Lions Clubs had been formed in the west and Bristol Interchange Club realised that there were large gaps between the cities of Gloucester and Bristol where no Lions Clubs existed. One of their members, Lion Robert F. Howes was asked to try and form a club to bridge that gap.
In June 1970 Lion Howes called a meeting of the prospective new club in the Plough Inn in the village of Charfield. There were 6 people in attendance with just three items on the agenda, namely the objects and ethics of Lionism and the geographical boundaries of the new club. It was decided that the boundaries would spread roughly between Wotton-Under-Edge in the North, Doddington in the South, Badminton in the East and Thornbury in the West. To form a Lions Club at that time required a minimum of 15 members which after five meetings could not be achieved and the 6 members decided that there would be greater scope for growth in the larger town of Chipping Sodbury.
In August 1970 the club moved its headquarters to the Portcullis Hotel in Chipping Sodbury and in September achieved the required 15 persons membership. In October the newly formed club held its official formation meeting under the chairmanship of Past District Governor Ron J. Curtis and Lion Robert F. Howes was officially appointed as the first President. All 15 members were required to sign the official application form for charter membership of Lions Club International.
On 14th April 1971 at a ceremony held at Fortes restaurant in Bath the application for membership was granted by Lions Club International and the clubs Charter was presented to the club by District Governor Adam Tredgett. Each year on the nearest Saturday to the 14th April the club holds its Charter Night dinner to celebrate the granting of the Charter.
The Club is run under the rules of the original constitution with minor amendments to suit UK and local requirements. The club holds a Management meeting on the second Thursday of the month and activities and welfare meetings on the forth Thursday. All Lions Clubs have a distinguishing bannerette; the Chipping Sodbury Club bannerette to represent the wider community of “the Sudbury’s” depicts the local connection with the Beaufort estate and equestrian events.
The club played a significant role in the growth of Lionism by forming a daughter club in the town of Wotton-Under-Edge in June 1977.
In 1979 the Chipping Sodbury Lions Club achieved a further milestone when it organised and hosted the District Convention held at the Holiday Inn in Bristol. Of further note is that the club has produced three District Governors from its membership and members have been regular attendees at International Conventions.
Achievements and activities.
Since its formation in Chipping Sodbury the Lions Club has become recognised as a major fund raising and community spirited organisation and has become very involved in local activities. The current club membership numbers 22 with 2 being original members who remain very involved in the running of the club after nearly 40 years.
Several members sit on local organisations including the Chipping Sodbury Festival Committee and the Victorian Day Committee. The Lions Club organises the Carnival day and several other functions during the Festival week and throughout the year for the benefit of the local community. It played a major role in successfully reorganising and reinstating the Victorian Day event after a one year lapse.
Throughout the year the club organises various charity fund raising events including a very successful golf day, book sales, car treasure hunts, carol and choir concerts however none are more famous than the Christmas Sleigh Ride where members tour the local streets conducting door to door collections and visit supermarkets during the month of December with the vehicle towed sleigh playing Christmas carols and decorated with festive lights and the requisite Father Christmas.
It also organises various non fund raising social events including luncheon dates and wine and cheese parties.
As is the object of the Lions Club 100% of the money raised goes directly to local charities and humanitarian causes with all administration costs being met by the club members.
Over the years many organisations and individuals have received aid both financially and by members carrying out work for people in the community who need help with tasks they can no longer carryout themselves.
The Chipping Sodbury Lions Club was responsible for establishing the Chat Shop where young people can seek help and advice from experience councillors on many personal matters free of charge. Members of the Club remain as permanent trustees to the Chat Shop.
Another organisation supported with donations over recent years is the Raksha Institute in Cochin, India for mentally and physically disabled children and young adults.
The Chipping Sodbury Lions Club has continued to fulfil the aims and objectives as laid down in the original Lions Club International Objects and Ethics Documents through both good and bad economic times and with a varying membership level, a problem common to all clubs.
It is proud of past and present achievements and aims to continue with its work to create and foster a spirit of understanding among all people for humanitarian needs by raising money and providing voluntary services through community involvement and International cooperation.