When Armidale Dumaresq Lions Club was chartered 40 years ago, it was met with opposition.
The city’s only Lions Club before then - Armidale Lions - had voted unanimously against the formation of another Lions Club.
“They felt it would be detrimental to their membership,” recalled Peter Shaw, who was the first president of the new club.
The club is celebrating its 40th birthday next weekend, marking the milestone with a gala dinner on Saturday night and a breakfast on Sunday morning.
Mr Shaw, who is still a member of Armidale Dumaresq Lions, said the district governor of Lions at the time persisted and formed the club without the assistance of the other Lions in the city.
Mr Shaw, who was already in Lions having been a member of the Guyra club, was elected the club’s charter president when it held its first meeting in October 1977 to form an executive.
He recalled it was a grand occasion when they club was officially chartered on January 28, 1978.
“It was in the old Seven Brothers ballroom, there was nearly 400 there, the place was packed,” Mr Shaw said.
The club started with 26 members.
“When we chartered, if I remember correctly, Armidale Lions had 42 members. At the end of the first 12 months, we’d gone to 32 members and they’d gone to 53. So that’s how much damage we did to their membership. They increased by 11 members.”
Relations improved over the years, and since then a third Lions Club has been formed in Armidale.
Mr Shaw said his club had worked on a lot of projects for the city, including building extensions for the Guide Hall, and erecting a flagpole and paving at the Armidale Aboretum among many others over 40 years.
In the club’s early years it started a recycling project, collecting glass four times a year in the city, then later starting a recycling depot. It poured more than $200,000 into the club’s coffers over the years to be spent on community projects, until it became too much for the club’s members to run and they handed it over to another organisation in the late 1990s.
There’s a spirit in the club that hasn’t changed.Peter Shaw
“There’s a spirit in the club that hasn’t changed,” Mr Shaw said. “We work together, it’s a team, and the club has always worked as a team.”
He said past members would be returning for the celebrations to join the club’s current members.