Help the Lions to carry on creating magical events in the district. . .

A group of Lions and Leos
A group of Lions and Leos

Magic doesn’t conjure up itself - it needs magicians to do it.

Todmorden Lions’ retiring president Rod Wainwright opened a special guest night at Todmorden Cricket Club in which a major project was launched and sums of cash handed over to good causes and individuals with some food for thought.

The fun and information evening saw the launch of a major appeal to raise money through 2014 to buy Todmorden’s young table tennis player Megan Shackleton a sports wheelchair to accelerate her progress in the sport in which she is regarded as extremely talented with the potential to become a Paralympian.

Events which the Lions Club organises or helps run, and the causes that the organisation, able to call on backing from across the world if necessary, need Lions members to pull it all off, or at least people willing to help put in an hour of their time here and there when need requires.

Rod used a metaphor that it seemed aliens organised events like the Duck Race, helped raise money for flood victims or manned the gates to help out another voluntary organisation like Todmorden Carnival or Todmorden Show. They arrived as if from nowhere to run the events, and then went away again.

“There are many events that happen in Todmorden by magic every year. Marquees appear in the park and suddenly there’s a show. There’s a colourful carnival parade through Todmorden. Every year the town is festooned with pantomimes, plays and musicals, and a thousand yellow ducks float down the river.

“These aliens are from the planet Volunt. They are volunteers. Unfortunately many of these aliens are growing older and they are becoming a dying breed, In the future that means a lot of these magic moments don’t happen,” he said.

There used to be a Round Table group in Todmorden, he recalled, and Calder Valley Lions club had become extinct.

They were dying out in Todmorden but thriving in other parts of the country so things could be different even if people lent a small amount of help for events, if they did not want to become full time Lions or Leos - there is a thriving Leos group at Todmorden High School - although more full members would be welcomed.

He introduced a DVD explaining how Melvin Jones founded the Lions in America in 1917. Comprising people working together to improve their communities, it was soon a worldwide phenomenon and reached Britain around the second world war when Canadian servicemen raised funds to help communities in Britain but found there were no Lions clubs to hand it out.

The Queen Mother distributed it and the first Lions club was soon set up. In 202 countries Lions, whose base is in Chicago, have 1.3 million members.

Rod said: “That is a good overview. Todmorden Lions are just the local branch of this superb worldwide organisation.

“And every single penny raised from the public goes to charitable things. Nothing is taken out for administration - that’s quite amazing,” he said.

Scrapbooks and memorabilia were on hand for people to look through, looking back on events such as the famous Pram Race, Donkey Derbies, Family Fun Days and organisations helped including the town’s Information Centre, Todmorden In Bloom, Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, helping form Todmorden Talking Newspaper, scouts and guides, Rochdale Canal Walk, and more.

As well as local events they also played a role in the Lions’ promoted World Sight Day, also helped with diabetes awareness and hadgiven £10,000 to local residents after last year’s devastating floods. Its insurance ciover helped another group of volunteers, Todmorden Swimming Club, to host this year’s New Year after last year’s had to be cancelled.

Rod, and Pam Lally, who has taken over as president for 2013-14, made presentations to local organisations and individuals.

Dr Dinesh Kumar received a cheque which will buy a portable ECG machine for Todmorden Group Practice, while money presented to Mr George Micthell of TAODS will help cover the cost of creating toilets for disabled people at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Janet Garner received a cheque for the Todmorden Food Drop-in and Mayor of Todmorden Coun Jayne Booth some money for her Charity, Overgate Hospice.

Then presentations were made to two of Todmorden’s promising young sportswomen, Great Britain rower Jess Leyden and table tennis player Megan Shackleton, who is aiming to make the 2016 Paralympic team.

Pam said: “If anyone feels they can spare some time, even an hour at a time, to help us along it would be very welcome.”