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Published on January 17th, 2021 | by The Town Crier

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Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion

Paddock Wood & District Lions Club has been serving our local community for 38 years. Clare Turner finds out more from committee member Amber Small.

2020 has been an unprecedented 12 months for the Paddock Wood & District Lions Club. Founded in 1982, this charitable organisation regularly arranges events to raise funds for local worthy causes.

But many activities had to be called off this year due to the Covid-19 crisis. These included its biggest annual fund-raiser: the Paddock Wood CarnivalWeekend. Traditionally held in July, this two-day extravaganza includes the Rockin’ in the Rec music event, a parade and a fete held in St Andrew’s Playing Field (alongside Shaws Fair). Also cancelled was Big Band Night in Matfield, the East Peckham 10K Fun Run and the Annual Duck Race.

But the good news is that the club hopes its popular Santa’s Sleigh Runs will go ahead in December. For over 25 years, an illuminated motorised sleigh ‘driven’ by Santa has toured Paddock Wood and some of the outlying villages over the weekends in the run-up to Christmas. Festive music played over loudspeakers alerts kids of Santa’s arrival and Lions members then knock on doors with buckets to collect donations.

Long-standing Lions committee member Amber Small comments: “As most of our fundraising events ceased due to Covid, we’ve pivoted our focus on spending for community support. That’s the big push now.

“We have made large donations to the Community Storehouse [Paddock Wood’s food bank] and we hope to start providing fresh fruit and vegetables fortnightly in December and January.

“We’re doing all that we can to help the community at this time and we want to help anyone that needs it. Lions is a bit different to other organisations in that we don’t focus on a single issue. We consider all requests for assistance from individuals, families, clubs and societies… nothing is outside our remit. So that gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs.”

The club covers 11 districts: Paddock Wood, Brenchley, Collier Street, East Peckham, Five Oak Green, Goudhurst, Lamberhurst, Marden, Matfield, Staplehurst and Yalding.

There are 18 members, who are local men and women of all ages and from all walks of life. But the Lions are eager to recruit new faces.

“We always welcome extra help,” says Amber. “For example, the Carnival takes about nine months of planning, attracts around 2,000 people and has 200-300 people in the parade, so that really is a huge event to get off the ground.”

She continues: “I’ve been a member from a young age and I thoroughly enjoy it. Its very rewarding and gives you a chance to give back, meet new people – and there’s always the social side of course. The club members themselves are great and are all people who just want to help others in the best way that they can.”

Amber concludes: “Although the Lions is local, it’s also the largest volunteer service organisation in the world with 1.4 million members across over 200 countries. It’s a great organisation to be a part of.”

If you are interested in volunteering, or can think of something or someone where help from the Lions may be appropriate, call 0345 833 9564 or email enquiries@paddockwoodlions.co.uk.

[2 x IMAGES]

1 x Lions international logo   1 x Lions Pad


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