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Lions celebrate 50 years of roaring into action

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Lions celebrate 50 years of roaring into action thumbnailDEPUTY D.G. Theresa Dineen and Newry Lions President Michael McCaul presents the Melvin Jones Fellow Award to Tony O'Hare for dedicated humanitarian services to the Lions Club International Foundation.

"WHERE there's a need there's a lion," says Vice-Chairperson of the Newry Lions Phelim Convery.

The Newry branch of the international organisation are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and held a dinner last Friday in the Canal Court hotel to mark the occasion.

Since their founding back in 1967, the Lions have raised millions of pounds for local charities, and helped countless people.

Among their signature schemes are the distribution of hot meals to those in need on Christmas Day and their "Talking Newspaper" for the visually impaired which is recorded and posted out to nearly 100 people every week.

Their schools sponsored swim has also been an enduring success. It has been running for over 40 years, and has raised well over 500,000 in that time.

Another well known event is, of course, the Kilbroney vintage vehicle rally, which has been taking place for 32 years. Last year there were over 1,500 entries and in excess of 23,000 raised for local charities.

Phelim, who has been involved for 10 years, readily agrees that the voluntary work is extremely fulfilling.

Just last year, he headed a campaign to help stranded refugees in the Channel port of Calais. With a huge organisational effort, two 40 foot containers of clothes, shoes, tents and toiletries were driven to France by the Lions.

“The work is ongoing," said Phelim.

“I retired five years ago, and I'm busier now than ever. The principal backbone of the Lions is demonstrated when events like the recent earthquake in Italy happen, or a tsunami.

“We would get money into head office for that, and that money goes directly to the Lions in that country and that's spent on the people that need it. There's no administration - every pound follows right through.

“We are in hundreds of countries throughout the world, involving millions of people. They are doing a great measles vaccination all over the world, they help with setting up clinics to test people's eyesight and giving them glasses, they've brought water wells to various places, they're everywhere.

“As the saying goes: "Where there's a need, there's a lion."

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