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A little bit of history

In the early part of the 1900's many business people in the United States, particularly in the larger cities, joined luncheon clubs. These clubs served as an avenue through which members learned to know each other and to do business with their fellow club members.

In 1913, a successful insurance salesman in Chicago, Melvin Jones, met a business acquaintance who invited him to lunch, "to meet some of the boys". These "boys" were members of the Business Circle of Chicago, a luncheon club.

Jones enjoyed the fellowship but thought what a waste it was that people with such ability, ambition, drive and intelligence could not direct their energies to improving their communities. The more he thought about it, the more the idea seemed possible and he began corresponding with other clubs throughout the United States. His idea, to form a National Association with community service as its aim, started to generate enthusiasm.

On June 7, 1917, delegates from luncheon clubs from various parts of the US met in Chicago. While their interests and personalities were diverse the meeting went smoothly and there was a consensus to form an Association. There is little doubt though that there was difficulty in finding the right name and it wasn't settled until 1919 when a delegate at a citizenship, "Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nations Safety". It sounds archaic in the present time but we have to remember that the 1914-18 World War was still fresh in the public mind.

The International Association motto, "We Serve" was adopted in 1950.

Clubs were formed throughout the world but it wasn't until 1950 that the first club was chartered in the British Isles (London Host Club) and in 1961, Exeter became the first club in the South-West.

PAIGNTON LIONS CLUB was officially recognised on the 24th November 1971 and it's first recorded event was taking a group of over 65's to a pantomime at the Palace Avenue Theatre in Paignton, followed by a meal at the local Methodist Church Hall.

Over the years Lions have become recognised as fundraisers, so successful at times that it often overshadows our Code, "to aid others by giving our sympathy to those in distress, our aid to weak and out substance to the needy".

26th April 1972. Paignton club's first fundraising event to raise funds was a Fashion Show in association with Torquay Lions' and sponsored by Marks & Spencer. The proceeds were donated to the Torbay Society for Mentally Handicapped Children. Programmes were sold for 20pence and a total of £1000 was raised- a substantial in the 1970's. The publicity quoted the club's object to "assist those who are in need in our community".

On the 13th January 1974 Paignton Lions Club formally registered a "Declaration of Trust" establishing and applying an account exclusively for charitable purposes. In other words an account registered with the Charity Commission - No 269745.

4th August, 1978. Members of the club formally entered in to a third-year lease from Torbay Council, for the old monastery chapel, Berry Drive, Paignton. Their goal, to build and maintain a Community Centre. Some members of the club expressed concerns that the project was too ambitious and resigned. The majority grasped the opportunity; put in many hours of work and for the major portion of the lease successfully maintained and ran the premises as a community centre. Sadly lack of local support, high maintenance costs and apathy from the local Council cumulated in the surrender of the lease on the 1st April 2000.

Over many years members have shown their commitment to help and, at the same time, been mindful of the need for fun and fellowship. Many of our events have included a strong fun factor - It's a Knockout, The Great Paignton Knit-in, Charity Variety Show, Pirate and Viking beach invasions, Pantomime Horse Races, Roman Chariots, Floats in various town carnivals etc.

Hands-on service has been provided to benefit individuals and local groups. To assist this work substantial sums of money have been raised and distributed within the community. Administrative costs are minimal and we are able to maximise the financial support we receive from the general public.

The club has made contributions to major projects in the South-West, e.g. Rowcroft Hospice, the Plymouth Cavitron Appeal, Children's Hospice South-West, breathing monitors for babies in the care of Torbay Hospital Paediatric Unit, the Psoriasis unit at Paignton Hospital, the Chestnut Appeal, etc. Local groups such as Cheshire Homes, RNIB, Red Cross, YMCA, RNLI, Mencap, Fosnec and many others have been beneficiaries from our work.

We also make donations to Lions' programmes, e.g. Lions International Bloody Research Appeal (LIBRA), Medic-Alert Foundation, Lions Clubs International Blood Research (LCIF), The Gift for Living Appeal, Student education in Malawi, Spectacles collection and Water Aid projects.

Following the Tsunami Disaster several years ago we made an immediate grant to Disaster Emergency Committee. Through Bristol based we found there was a need for school building on the island of Sri Lanka. Within six weeks of our donation a new school was built at Kasthurpa for 35 pupils.