A first for Lions Club

Tewantin Noosa Lions assisting in the 2019 Noosa fires.

By Rose Astley

Tewantin Noosa Lion’s Club member David Watts has recently been appointed District Governor, making him a key member in the association.

David has been a Lions member for 35 years, joining the Noosa Tewantin branch in 1985.

“My main role in the District is to assist clubs in their work in the community by way of physical assistance or by training in service, membership and leadership. I am the “middle man“ between Clubs and Lions Clubs International.

The Tewantin Noosa Lions Club has been in existence for 50 plus years and I am the first District Governor to be elected in that time,” David said.

“I joined Lions to assist others in our communities who are not travelling too well due to financial or health circumstances. Lions has the foundations as vehicles to assist in these areas.

“As an example we collect used stamps throughout Australia which are trimmed and sold at auction in Sydney which this year has raised $45,000 and allowed children with cerebral palsy to purchase walkers so that they move around,” David said.

(SUB HEAD) Who are the Tewantin Noosa Lions Club?

When it comes to service clubs, a name people will always remember is Lions, this is probably because they’re usually the club that is serving you sausages or chips at your local hardware store or market.

While they do spend a lot of time flipping sausages and frying chips, this is just a very small way your local Lion’s Club raises much needed funds for the community, their commitment to the community in fact goes much deeper.

Each year, roughly $50,000 is donated from the Lions Club back into the Noosa Shire.

Long term member Christine Pullin, along with her partner Chris, have been a part of the Lions Club for over 20 years.

“We donate a lot to Lions based projects, but the majority of our money we raise goes back to people in this community,” Christine said.

Under the clubs charter, they are to give one hundred per cent of the money they raise back to the public, this means that administration fees and other costs are paid for purely from membership fees to be a part of the club.

Their motto is simple: Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion, and with 1200 clubs across Australia and New Zealand and 1.4 million members worldwide, there is always a Lion that can lend a helping hand.

The Tewantin Noosa Lion’s Club have 54 members, and since their inception in 1967, the list of their achievements within the community is equally as long.

In the late 70’s, the club constructed a raised area in the Gympie Terrace Lions Park, the mound was to serve as a stage for concerts and performances such as the Country Music Festival.

The makeshift stage proved to be problematic and the Lions Club lobbied for the Noosa Council to allow funding for a permanent structure, completed in 2006 the River Stage Noosa is still enjoyed by many to this day.

The Tewantin Noosa Lions Club also constructed the Meals on Wheels Kitchen, after receiving a letter in 1992 from the Meals on Wheels committee asking if the club could adopt them as they were in trouble and needed help.

At the time, the meals were being prepared in a small tin shed unsuitable for their work, so council offered them a piece of land that they could expand onto, the Lions Club took on the challenge despite only having enough funds to outfit the kitchen.

The project was estimated to cost $125,000 and was to be completed by volunteer work alone over three weekends, members of the club reached out to Noosa Mayor Noel Playford who granted the amount of $65,000 under the premise that Meals on Wheels would pay off the loan $500 each month.

Though the money was never required, as local support from an organised Buy a Brick campaign raised enough funds to help pay for the project.

The Noosa community continued to band together to help complete the project, with bricklayers, painters and plumbers offering free services on weekends, their reward were meals cooked from the Lions Club food van.

These structures have and will continue to significantly benefit the Noosa community through the efforts and lobbying from the Tewantin Noosa Lions Club, but these projects are a small token of how passionate the club is for helping the community.

In last year’s Cooroibah bushfires, the home of father and son Brian and Beau Williams was destroyed, in a massive community effort and the help of the local Lions Club, the family was supplied a large canopy, a solar shower and portaloo along with many other necessities to help them along in their time of need.

The Tewantin Noosa Lions Club were heavily involved in the Noosa Region’s bushfire support, feeding the firefighters and serving food to the thousands of people who were evacuated from their homes in the region during the disaster.

Lions prepared emergency breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the evacuees and supported them in every way possible, even providing hug or shoulder to cry on.

Tewantin Noosa Lions Club Membership Chair Bev Heaney said that seeing the look on people’s faces when offered a helping hand is a feeling that can’t be described.

“This was a huge exercise and we are all proud to be Lions and part of extraordinary circumstances, where everyone in the community was empathetic and spread the love to help and support people in dire circumstances.

“Once you see the look on someone’s face when you’ve helped them, it becomes an addiction,” Bev said.

Though based in Noosa, it’s not only our region that benefits from the giving nature of the Tewantin Noosa Lions Club, places as far away as Jericho also feel their compassion.

995km away, the small town of Jericho has been ‘adopted’ by our Lions Club, the town suffers greatly from drought and therefore have suffered the financial burden that comes with it, so for the last two years, members of the Tewantin Noosa Club make the 2000km round trip to deliver clothes, toys and food from ‘Santa’.

These are just a few of the tasks undertaken by the club, and although the work is extremely gratifying, it is becoming more difficult with a large portion of the club getting up in age.

That is why they’re now appealing to the younger members of the community to take the leap and join the club.

Christine Pullin has been a part of Lions for 22 years, alongside her husband Chris, who has served for 29 years, the pair are certain that the younger generations would benefit greatly from the club.

“It’s not all work,” Christine said.

I actually get more out of Lions than I give, because everybody needs a helping hand at some stage and there might be a day that I need it.

“And if you put back into the community, you’re helping somebody and someday down the track you might need some help and you’ll have someone to call on.

One message that the group wants to express is that Lions is not just for the older generations, it is an environment that anyone from any age can enjoy and benefit from.

The whole family can become involved with Lions, kids and teenagers aged 12-18 can become members of a Leos Club, which was formed to help the development of young people to become community serving citizens.

Activities for Leos can include cleaning and tree planting, helping the elderly, or working with their sponsoring Lions Club to raise much needed funds for medical equipment or charities.

The Lions club is for volunteer men and women and children who are not exceptionally or specially qualified, just people who have decided to give something back to their community.

Independent Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton believes that community service groups such as the Tewantin Noosa Lions Club are essential to our community.

“Community organisations are vital in supporting the most vulnerable, as well being there for us in times of need.

“The Tewantin Noosa Lions Club have provided targeted assistance to us all in some way, including providing food and friendship for our evacuees through their numerous fundraising events.

“Who can resist a Lions ‘sauso or burger’?

“Keep up the fabulous work TN Lions, our community relies on your generosity of spirit and camaraderie,” Ms Bolton said.

For any information involving volunteer work for becoming a member, visit https://tewantinnoosa.qld.lions.org.au/.