Getting older with the Lions

Of course it was meant to be the first Monday, but every February the final rehearsals for the Pantomime take precedence for several members, shifting the monthly Lions Club business meeting on a week. So the 167th meeting of the local club was held yesterday evening, but in a surprising change of venue, at the King’s Head. Of the transitions happening unexpectedly at The Golden Lion, more in a later entry.

Lions Club business meetings have quite a set format, as meetings go, moving from greetings, previous meeting minutes, and matters arising, through the Treasurer’s report and correspondence, a de-brief of any salient Club endeavour from the past month, and then typically on to reports from the officers of the group. The main ‘business’ of every meeting, when members are not organising for a specific event, is a careful consideration of what funds the group currently have for disbursement to requests for assistance.

Over the past few months, for example, the Allendale Lions Club have distributed well over £2000 to support the local ‘Pocket Directory of Allendale and the Allen Valleys’, the Allen Valleys Get Together group, the window refurbishment at Catton chapel, the renovation of the food service counter at Allendale Village Hall, a special grant to Allendale Sports Club, as well as presenting the annual Bonfire Night (which just about pays for itself) and the ‘Carols in the Square’ and lit Christmas Tree on the Green.

The Lions try to distribute money received for charitable purposes where it will do the most good, but like the other beneficent funders in the area (eg, the Allendale Co-operative Society’s plastic bag fund, and the society’s foundation fund, the Helen Allinson Makepeace Trust Fund, the Allendale Exhibition Trust, or Allendale Parish Council), these funds are always limited by what is actually available in the coffers.

Thus, the Allendale Lions, nowadays, generate money for charitable causes primarily by running an annual charity auction every autumn, and by holding a friendly and engaging Burns Night Supper in the dead of winter. It’s been challenging to figure out how else to generate money for good causes, as other sources of revenue, like the used book sales, or sometimes the slight May Fair profits in the past, or even jiggling collection cans at dwindling Santa’s Sleigh crowds, have had to be abandoned, curtailed, or passed on to more energetic community champions, as the club members have grown older.

That’s why the local Lions were so supportive for the idea of creating an annual ‘Life in the Year of a Village’ for Allendale. This blog, which will always be free online, engendering significant community interest, and thereby functioning as a ‘community activity’ for both readers and writers alike could also, eventually, be turned into a ‘blook’ or a ‘book of the blog’. It might not generate quite as much money as Nora Handcock’s book did say for Allendale Village Hall. But perhaps, as a gift or as memento, a kind of potted history of this one particular year here in Allendale, a hold-in-your-hand book could still be useful, when 2020 rolls around and the 365 entries logged in the friendly diary with accompanying comments, are turned into a 500 page ‘blook’. A target of say £5000 of usable ‘profit’ from sales throughout 2020 is actually quite a reasonable ambition to hope to plough back into good causes.

At least, writing, or contributing to, a daily diary is a feasibility for some of us who aren’t physically able, say, to lug heavy boxes of used books around anymore. And a simple ‘Kickstarter’ crowdsourcing campaign at the end of the year could finance the first print run, if enough people care to pre-order, as it were. The feasibility is all there, with the first month’s entries now bound into a prototype copy, but whatever transpires, as demand is ultimately tested in early 2020, the diary will have been a fun exercise. The feedback has been so welcoming from current and past residents of these valleys.

Meanwhile, the floor is always open, the Lions say, for more concepts on generating money for good causes, and they’d be delighted to entertain ideas, in addition to those on how to spend the ~£5000 in annual funds typically received for onward disbursement, of how to generate more!

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