I was so proud to be invited to speak at the Stroud Lions Club dinner on Monday 11th July. It was an honour to be a part of this lovely evening.

Welcome everyone and thank you for having me.

I have been invited to speak about Lions International this evening and therefore have been researching a little to find out any extra information that I wasn’t aware of. I knew that many of our districts local facilities have been funded and organised by the Lions Club, that families have been assisted when in times of crisis, that the Lions Club are always fund raising for something or somebody but I must admit it goes far beyond what I thought and is truly amazing.
Lions Clubs International has 1.4 million members performing valuable service in 210 countries and geographic areas around the globe. Their reach is far and wide and we are all family in their eyes.
Here is just a snapshot of what they have achieved for our own district:
• Paying $50,000 in cash donations to our 2015 flood victims
• Initiating, fundraising and project managing the Stroud Community Lodge
• Initiating and developing many of the parks & facilities in the Stroud area
• Initiating and sustaining the Stroud Community Web
• Helping many local citizens in need, all the local schools & many other clubs & organisations that need the very special qualities Lions have to offer.

A little history:
Lions International was started by Melvin Jones from Fort Thomas in Arizona.
He was an insurance broker who joined a business circle, one of many groups of this nature at the time for business men meeting over lunches. Melvin was soon elected as secretary. But the group was purely for financial benefits and because of this was about to fold when Melvin decided to change things up a bit.
“What if these men,” Melvin asked “who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?”
At his invitation on June 7, 1917, delegates from Mens Clubs met in Chicago to lay the groundwork for this new organisation. The only point of contention was the name it was to be called. Melvin had researched the Lion as he was convinced that the Lion stood for strength, courage, fidelity and vital action. On a secret ballot the name Lions was chosen over several others. The symbol we see today is of two lions facing away from each other; being facing the past and facing the future. Showing both pride of heritage and confidence in the future.
Melvin Jones eventually closed his insurance agency to devote himself entirely to Lions at International Headquarters in Chicago. With his guidance and leadership many like-minded people were attracted to the group. In 1945 one of his greatest honours was to be invited to represent the Lions Clubs International at the organisation of the United Nations.
The Lions Clubs International Code of Ethics & Purpose are extensive and all are aimed at serving their community and those less fortunate. All of this is done without any expectation of benefits gained in return and all work is voluntary. This means that all monies raised are 100% donated to their assigned causes because nobody is paid for their work. The Lions g always give freely of their time, effort and finances to help assist others.
With their code of ethics I particularly love this one:
• To be careful with my criticism and liberal with my praise; to build up and not destroy.
And one of their purposes being:
• To create and foster a spirit of understanding among the people of the world.

Another fact I didn’t know but found very interesting was that in 1925 Helen Keller (blinded from a fever when she was 18mths old) attended a Lions Clubs International Convention and challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”
The Lions accepted her challenge and their work ever since has included sight programs aimed at preventable blindness.
In 1971, the Board of Directors of Lions Clubs International declared that June 1 would be remembered as Helen Keller Day. Lions around the world implement sight related service projects on Helen Keller Day.
There are many, many more examples of whom they assist of course including fundraising for children’s & adults cancers, illnesses and disabilities. There are far too many to mention here tonight, but it is truly remarkable.

I would like to finish with the founder Melvin Jones’ personal code – “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else”
Thank you

And on that note could I please ask everyone to stand and toast Lions International.