Boroughbridge Lions: 100 Years

The year 2017 marks 100 years since Lions founder Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessman, held his first meeting on 7 June 1917. We’ve written briefly about them before – but who are the Lions and what does 2017 hold?

Boroughbridge 98 Lions are celebrating the 100th birthday of their club this year. The Lions are the world’s largest service organisation, populated by a bunch of ordinary people who want to put something back into their community. They have 1.3 million members in 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries worldwide. The Lions welcome members of all sexes and ages.

The group is a dedicated band of men and women who give some spare time to benefit their community, which stretches out from town to include Green Hammerton to Dishforth and Marton cum Grafton to Roecliffe, plus all the villages in between. Having a hands-on role in the local community creates fun and new friendships. Members come from all walks of life and give their time freely to help others.

As well as monthly meetings and social get-togethers throughout the year, the Lions hold two well-attended annual community events in Boroughbridge. The Walking Football tournament takes place this year on 23 April and features teams from clubs and organisations throughout the area in a hard-fought knock-out tournament. To celebrate the Lions’ centenary, they will hold a musical concert in Boroughbridge with Knaresborough Operatic Society on 2 July.

Members come from all walks of life and give their time freely to help others.

But Boroughbridge Family Cycle Day is the local biggie; it started in 2010 and attracts more than 200 riders each year. Many families bring their youngsters for an active day out and ages range from four to 85 years old; the ride starts at around 11:00 from the Shared Space Boroughbridge. It’s not a race and there are no prizes, although the children receive a certificate, commemorative badge and goodie bag on their return. The total distance is around 12 miles and takes in Lower and Upper Dunsforth as well as Great Ouseburn. The date for 2017 is 21 May.

Members of Boroughbridge Lions marshall the event, along with fellow volunteers from the Selby, Wetherby, Ripon, Knaresborough and Harrogate clubs, who then get help in return. Working together locally, nationally and internationally is how the Lions have achieved so much over the last 100 years.

But these events do not raise money for the club. As Graham Archer of Boroughbridge 98 Lions explains, “We do not organise events to raise funds, but as a service to the community. The majority of our fund raising is done in December, when we are out and about with Santa Claus pulling his sleigh during the run up to Christmas.” Around 80% of funds raised are re-invested back into the local community, with the club also supporting national and international disaster funds.

“Currently we help several local projects,” adds Graham. “These include buying vegetables for a group of Boroughbridge High School pupils who have started a very successful soup kitchen for elderly people in the area.”

Want to Join in?

Boroughbridge Lions meet monthly, but attendance requirements are very flexible to accommodate today’s time-poor working families; there’s a small charge to members of £40 per annum to cover administration. They also encourage couples’ membership with discounted rates, so attendance can be shared. As an additional incentive to joining the Lions, there are plenty of chances for members to get involved in overseas projects and help communities abroad.
If you would like to find out more about the Lions in their centenary year, why not go to one of their meetings? They’re held on the second Tuesday of each month at 20:00 at the Crown Hotel and are informal and very friendly. Check out the new website at http://www.boroughbridgelions.co.uk or alternatively call Ann or Graham Archer on 01423 323 867 for a chat about what it means to be a Lion.