NARACOORTE Lions Club and friends celebrated another successful year at their 49th annual changeover dinner last weekend.
Eighty-four Lions, partners and guests enjoyed an excellent meal at the Settlers Cafe while reflecting on the club's achievements.
The Lions House for the community CT Scan appeal has undoubtedly been the highlight for the club and, with a sale imminent, a substantial donation will soon be made to the fund.
In addition to this outgoing president Paul Nikkerud highlighted many of the club's other achievements, including the Taste the Limestone Coast Festival, the Men's Shed project, health projects, the Swap Meet catering and the highly successful Christmas Stocking and wood raffles.
Mayor Erika Vickery reflected on the achievements of the club and of service clubs generally in our community as she proposed a toast to Lions International.
Zone chairman Lion David Snook from Beachport - Rivoli Bay Lions responded on behalf of Lions.
During president Paul's 2013-2014 year, the club has donated about $22,000 to various charities and needy causes, with the most significant grants going to the Men's Shed ($5000), the Hospital Mobility Access Vehicle ($4000), Kingston Lions storm damage appeal ($2000), Naracoorte South Primary School ($1000), the Australian Lions Foundation ($1000) and $4500 distributed between the 12 local charities who joined us in the 2013 Christmas Stocking Raffle. Added to this will be the Lions House sale donation, expected to be quite substantial, when the house sale is completed.
President Paul, assisted by Lions first district vice governor Dave Thomas, then presented Lions International Life Memberships to Lions Murray Sherwell and Bruce Swanson for their long and valuable service contributions to the club and community.
Lions Mick Deland and Graeme Zilm were then honoured with James D. Richardson Awards, (the highest Australian Lions Award), for their outstanding work in specific areas of Lions Club activities.
Lion Mick was recognised for 20 years work with Trees for Life and tree planting with school children and the community, as well as for his representation of Lions on the Naracoorte Creek Committee and other achievements.
Lion Graeme was recognised for his leadership role in the formation of the Men's Shed and for chairing that committee, as well as for his ongoing energy and commitment to club and interclub activities.
President's Appreciation Awards were then given to Lions Malcolm McEachern (secretarial work), David Harris (seniors), Paul Neilson (Christmas Stocking Raffle), Lou Hirschmann (house), Ross Gleeson (youth), Rod Ross (historian) and Anna Van Komen for her support of Lions club activities.
Following the presentations Lion past president Reg Pallant conducted the installation ceremony for the new president and board of directors for the 2014-2015 Lions Year.
The new president, Lion Derek Blackwell, then addressed the gathering about his chosen theme for the coming year: the club's 50th.
The theme is "Become a Lion - Make a Difference" and Derek proceeded to explain how it had come from an address many years ago by Lion Barry Palmer, the first Australian to become international president of Lions.
Derek then gave several examples of how members of Naracoorte Lion Club had already made significant differences in our community over the last 49 years.
These included Lions Pioneer Park; the Smith Street clock; the hospital mobility access vehicle; the Taste the Limestone Coast Festival; the "Dollars for Doonas" project for bushfire victims and the provision of a Hart-Walker to a young boy in Mount Gambier who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis.
In all of these examples and many more Lions members have been able to strongly and personally feel the impact of their service work.
President Derek challenged the club to continue to find new ways to make a difference in our community and to use the theme as a recruiting slogan, so that as current Lions prepare to celebrate 50 years of service, younger men and women will come forward to continue the great work of Lions, the world's largest service club, locally, nationally and internationally for the next 50 years.
The evening concluded with the conduct of a "Tail Twisting" or fines session in which any real or imaginary indiscretions by Lions were recounted by lions Tail Twisters Alan Schinckel and Graeme Zilm.
Lions will continue to meet on the first and third Monday of each month and interested people are invited to contact Lions at Naracoorte.firstname.lastname@example.org or at PO Box 642, Naracoorte.