Kiama Lions celebrate 50th

ALL WELCOME: President Jim McNeilly and former club president Russel Fredericks said they would love to see former Kiama Lions at the 50th anniversary celebrations.

ALL WELCOME: President Jim McNeilly and former club president Russel Fredericks said they would love to see former Kiama Lions at the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Kiama Lions may be turning 50 in March - but they have their eyes fixed firmly on the future.

President Jim McNeilly and former club president Russel Fredericks were full of news about upcoming projects and the club's goals for the future when they sat down to discuss the upcoming half-century celebration.

Although both men acknowledged that the club's focus had shifted from hands-on projects to fundraising as the average age of members has drifted up to the 70 mark, their passion for helping the community hasn't dimmed.

And they're still on the lookout for "any excuse to get the tools out".

One such project was the Carer's Cottage, which was completed in 2018. Lion Ray Redgrave came up with the concept in 2014.

The cottage was a joint effort between Kiama, Minnamurra and Gerringong Lions. It offers carers and their families an affordable holiday option in the stunning seaside town.

The Kiama Lions would love to see some younger members - residents aged in their 40s or 50s with the desire to be of service to the community, and have a good time doing it.

BIG GOALS: Kiama, Minnamurra and Gerringong Lions celebrate the completion of the carer's cottage in 2018.

BIG GOALS: Kiama, Minnamurra and Gerringong Lions celebrate the completion of the carer's cottage in 2018.

"A lot of people work out of town," Mr McNeilly said.

"By the time they get home and see the kids they're in bed ready to get up at 6 and do it all again. Unfortunately people just don't have as much time as they used to.

"Our average age now is about 72, but the last few people we've inducted have been in their late 40s and early 50s and that's what we're hoping for.'

The club's membership has stayed stable at about 70 for the past 30 years, making it one of the strongest in the nation.

They credited its longevity to the quality of members.

"We've kept the fun and the fellowship alive," Mr Fredericks said.

One thing the men credited with keeping the social aspect of the club to the fore was the introduction of women to what began as a "men's club".

"The first lady was transferred, she was a member of the Jindabyne club, and I think she deserves a gold medal," Mr Fredericks said.

"She really put in and that broke down any opposition."

MILESTONE: The club will be releasing a history book documenting the growth of the Kiama Lions Club.

MILESTONE: The club will be releasing a history book documenting the growth of the Kiama Lions Club.

The men acknowledged some club members had to become more mindful of their language - but said "the girls" had definitely changed the club for the better.

"A few of the guys had to clean their act up, in terms of swearing," Mr McNeilly said.

"The culture has changed since then. We're very aware when someone crosses the line now.

"The girls are putting in as much as the guys and sometimes a lot more."

Their birthday celebration, on March 12 at the Kiama Leagues Club - is, coincidentally, the exact date the club was first chartered 50 years ago.

They're hoping past members will come to share stories and celebrate the milestone with them.

"We're looking to get as many existing and ex-Lions as possible to come along," Mr McNeilly said.

"We'd love past members to share in the celebrations.

"It's not about having a lot of speeches, it's about everyone coming together, sharing stories and remembering their time in Lions."

They will also launch a history book that covers major events and projects of the club over the past 50 years.