Lions club marking 50 years of projects

After five decades raising thousands of dollars worth of funds for the betterment of Oamaru, the Lions Club of Oamaru will this month mark 50 years since the club was first chartered.

Oamaru Lions club member and bulletin editor Freeman Willetts said he estimated that over the last half century the club had been responsible for about 150 projects around Oamaru, including erecting the Elderslie Gate stone pillar entrance to Centennial Park and putting in a heli-pad at Oamaru Hospital.

He said the projects had been worth ''thousands of dollars''.

''It's just the service we give to the town. People come to us . . . wanting us to raise money. We can look at it and raise the money. We have done a lot of projects to better the town.''

But Mr Willetts said the club was far from finished.

''We have been busy doing the pirate boat down at the harbour [playground]. That's our 50th-year project and we have put about 500 hours into that in the last three months.

''We are not doing the boat itself. We have dug the hole, dug the foundation, poured the concrete and got all that set up, and now we are busy putting up all the decking around the side of it.

''We do quite a bit for the youth of the town. We host a youth exchange and also the speechmaker contest that we run, and people write to us saying they are going to Outward Bound and could we help sponsor them, which we do.''

He said the 250 members that had passed through the club in the last 50 years had also been responsible for chartering five new Lions Clubs in Otago, including Maniototo, Pakeke and Waianakarua.

The club had been started with 24 members in October 1963, and although there were still 26 members today, the club had had up to 40 members at various times in the past, he said.

A celebration dinner would be held at the Oamaru Club on October 19, followed by a barbecue at the Parkside Gardens in Weston the day after to mark the 50th anniversary.

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