Helensburgh Lions Club was formed “Chartered” in 1964 with sponsorship from the Glasgow Lions Club. This club has since closed, leaving Helensburgh the longest serving club in Scotland.
Charter members include, Australian speedway ace Billy Galloway, one of the driving forces. Provost Cloudy Williamson, Banker and Scotland rugby internationalist Copie Murdoch and other prominent local business men and citizens.
The Helensburgh Club subsequently sponsored Edinburgh, Stirling, Dumbarton and Bearsden clubs.
Club records show that early in the club’s history the club was visited by the International President who presented the Lions Clubs highest award for humanitarianism to Cloudy Williamson an award previously presented to the likes of Albert Schweitzer and the Queen of Thailand.
The club from the earliest days organised a Carnival Week during Glasgow Fair which included a Beauty Pageant at the swimming baths, Treasure hunts, Wappinschaws and a Gala day with a Donkey Derby in East King Street park. One of the highlights of membership in those days was to provide all night security for the East King site on Gala day a duty which involved one or two refreshments ! The Carnival ran for some 20 years by which time holiday activities had changed
The Lions Club purchased a mini bus in 1964 which initially provided a thrice weekly service to the Vale of Leven Hospital and twice weekly to Camis Eskin Geriatric Hopsital. The club purchased many replacement buses over the 40 years that the service was required, latterly the bus was used as a community bus by many local organisations. In the early days many local children were taken to Scarborough in the mini bus to enjoy a holiday at a Lions Club facility in the town — people have fond memories of the bus.
Local Charity concerts by the likes of the Corries and Molly Urquhart were a feature of the early years and in conjunction with the local Rotary Club a Feotal Monitor was provided for Vale of Leven hospital, a significant purchase at the time.
In the late 80s the Club acquired a caravan which was sited at Heads of Ayr, the mini bus transported families, who would benefit from a holiday, for their week break.
For many years the Club supported the Christmas lunches at Hermitage School in conjunction with Royal Navy personnel and canteen staff at the school. For 30 yrs the Club visited local hospitals, Victoria, Dumbarton Joint and Jeannie Deans with Father Christmas on Christmas Day to distribute small gifts to patients and provide festive music.
Computers were purchased for local Primary school and a Tacade system for personal development for the Secondary school children. A Challenger dinghy for disabled sailors was among the many one off donations the club had made. To recognise the Millennium we provided all local school children an illuminated plan of the town which pointed out some local history.
Helensburgh Lions Club is part of the worlds largest International Service Organisation with world wide membership of 1.35 million in over 200 countries. We make a regular contribution to their pooled funds which takes action in disasters and organises international humanitarian initiatives. In just over 40 years over 826 million US dollars has been made available.
The current activities of the Club include organising Senior Citizens lunch in February and Senior Citizens Tea in September, recognising and financially supporting individuals and many local charities and organisations. We collect used spectacles for recycling and provide Message in a Bottle for people with medical conditions to record their medication should they be require to go to hospital.
Our fund raising includes an Easter Egg raffle with the support of local pubs and clubs, Race Nights, and for 26 years our hugely popular Charity Golf day courtesy of Helensburgh Golf Club. We are fortunate to also receive donations from local organisations and individuals.
Tom Dunn, whose father Bert joined the club in 1964, has been a member for 38 years said ” I have seen many changes to the way the Club operates over the years and while the needs we serve have altered, the one constant is the tremendous support we enjoy from the local community ”
2014 Club President Don MacDonald said ” I have only been a member for a few years and have thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in the clubs activities. New members are the life blood of any club and I would encourage anyone with a few hours to spare to consider joining us as we try to improve the well being of the local community “