New Li­ons for Taranaki pride

North Taranaki Midweek - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHRIS­TINE WALSH

Don’t be fooled into think­ing dwin­dling num­bers and age­ing mem­ber­ship could spell the demise of the Li­ons move­ment in New Ply­mouth, be­cause a new club has emerged with re­newed en­thu­si­asm and a fresh at­ti­tude.

New Ply­mouth Cen­tral Li­ons was formed by mem­bers who once be­longed to other Taranaki chap­ters, but now call the city their home.

Ca­sual ban­ter be­tween the group dur­ing the Li­ons Clubs In­ter­na­tional 100 year cel­e­bra­tions in March re­vealed they had more than one thing in com­mon.

‘‘What we found com­ing out of our con­ven­tion was a num­ber were trav­el­ling back to their home clubs and New Ply­mouth was now their com­mu­nity,’’ NP Cen­tral Li­ons pres­i­dent Charles Thurston said.

Af­ter the clo­sure of Eg­mont Club in 2016, two clubs op­er­ated in the city, Pakeke and Koru. Pakeke Clubs are re­tired se­niors and the Koru Club is a much younger set.

Nei­ther were a per­fect fit for NP Cen­tral mem­bers who have a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence gained from serv­ing the com­mu­nity through a di­verse range of Li­ons projects and ac­tiv­i­ties.

‘‘We wanted to en­cour­age new blood and we have our own en­ergy,’’ Thurston said. ’’We wanted to cre­ate some­thing fresh and sup­port the New Ply­mouth Koru Club, but at the same time with­out hav­ing a bunch of strong ex­pe­ri­enced Li­ons wreck a youth­ful club that’s got its own in­di­vid­ual cul­ture.’’

What sealed the new club deal was their com­mon vi­sion for the fu­ture. ’’We want to get back to the grass­roots of Li­ons,’’ Thurston said.

The new­bies aren’t leav­ing their fate to chance, form­ing a strat­egy of projects to lead through­out the year.

‘‘We have picked up the Christ­mas Pa­rade and want to tweak it and re­ally lift its value, ‘‘ said projects lead Frank Ben­nett.

‘‘We see it as a shop win­dow for the vol­un­teer groups, schools, sports clubs and the like and it’s a chance for them to show the rest of the com­mu­nity what they are all about.

‘‘Our gen­eral ap­proach was to go for the short-term ini­tia­tives help­ing the com­mu­nity in a prac­ti­cal sense. It could range from help­ing se­niors shift fire­wood off their drive­way, or help­ing other or­gan­i­sa­tions dur­ing char­ity events by pro­vid­ing feet on the ground.’’

CHRIS­TINE WALSH/ STUFF

Ex­cit­ing times ahead for new Li­ons Club say pres­i­dent Charles Thurston and Frank Ben­nett.

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