Long-running Leighton Buzzard Lions closure fears

Thousands have enjoyed the fireworks at Brooklands School which the Lions organised for many years
Thousands have enjoyed the fireworks at Brooklands School which the Lions organised for many years

One of Leighton Buzzard’s best-known community groups is facing closure unless its membership can be revived.

Founded in 1970 and given its charter a year later, Leighton Buzzard Lions Club is part of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest service organisation with over 1.4 million members in 196 countries.

Lions funds paid for Freddie Gray's special tricycle

Lions funds paid for Freddie Gray's special tricycle

But locally the membership of the club has dwindled to just five people, meaning it faces an uncertain future.

Spokesman Julian Swaby said: “The club has, over the years, generated hundreds of thousands of pounds for charitable donations, much of which was distributed locally.

“In addition to fundraising, the club also provided many services to those in need, in and around Leighton Buzzard such as transport for the elderly, infirm and vulnerable but at the same time enjoying a happy social and fun time amongst the members.”

Mr Swaby added: “In recent years, due to the change in our modern times and lifestyles these days there has been a decline in the membership from 30-plus down to our current five, which makes it very hard and difficult for us to carry on doing the things we used to do.

A Lions charity fashion show

A Lions charity fashion show

“However, we still have two of the original founder members both of whom are very active, together with one 35-year veteran with the ‘newcomers’ clocking up about 20 years each.”

Mr Swaby said members were very reluctant to see the club fold having done so much for the community.

He said: “We all have so much fun, camaraderie, and true joy out of being part of the largest service organisation in the world, but local and in touch!”

He pointed out how the Lions had, until it was taken on by Rotary last year, organised the annual fireworks show held at Brooklands School every year since 1980.

Mr Swaby added: “And what about Lionel the train at so many fetes and carnivals, it’s difficult to remember them all. We had parents bringing their children for rides who told the driver ‘I used to come on here when I was a kid!’

Even with such diminished numbers, the club has still managed to fundraise for the community.

In recent times many donations have been made to local groups. Additionally, an £851 donation allowed a special tricycle to be bought for a young boy with cerebal palsy.

The Lions meet on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 8pm at the Leighton Buzzard Golf Club in Plantation Road – the first meeting is a business meeting, the second is a dinner meeting.

For more details and information on how to join see the website www.lblions.com

Have you benefited from the work of the Lions Club? What’s your view on its situation? Email news@lbobserver.co.uk