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United roar for Lions

Masterton’s two Lions clubs have united, bringing more men and women members together.

Masterton Host Waipoua Lions Club – a predominantly men’s club – has welcomed 17 members of the mainly women’s Masterton Holdsworth Lions Club into its ranks. The strengthened co-ed club will now continue its volunteer work, after 65 years of past service.

Glenys Hansen, who served as president of the Holdsworth club three times, said while it was sad the Holdsworth club had closed, it made sense for members to transition to Masterton Host Waipoua, as both clubs had dwindling memberships.

“Lions clubs have dinner meetings and we were struggling to get 20 members to ours, which made it hard to find a caterer. The men’s and women’s clubs were meeting on the same night at the RSA in Masterton anyway,” she said.

The Masterton Host Lions Club formed in 1957, two years after Lions Clubs were introduced to New Zealand. Since the first two New Zealand clubs ceased to exist, it has been the oldest surviving club in the country. It merged with the men’s Masterton Waipoua club, to become Masterton Host Waipoua.

Until 1987, Lions clubs were men only, with Lioness Clubs for women. In 1987, the constitution of Lions Clubs International changed to allow women to be inducted as Lions. From 1991, Lioness Clubs could transition to become a Lions Club.

Holdsworth chartered as a fully fledged Lions Club in 1992 but did not specifically exclude male membership, member of the former club, Sandy Hayes, said.

“Late last year, Masterton Host Waipoua finally chose to extend their ranks. Masterton Holdsworth and Masterton Host Waipoua decided to join forces.”

At an official changeover event on June 20, special recognition was given to three former Holdsworth Lions – Melvin Jones Fellow awards were presented to Glenys Hansen, chartered member Janet Campbell, and past district governor Jack Hayes, who has completed a full circle from the men’s club, to Holdsworth with wife Sandy Hayes, and now back to Masterton Host Waipoua with her. The Melvin Jones Fellow is the highest Lions International award a member can receive.

Over past decades, women of the Holdsworth club have raised money and supported charities with homemade catering at events including the Wairarapa Brickshow supporting Alzheimer’s Wairarapa, and the Model Railway Show supporting Life Flight Trust.

The club organised fashion shows supporting Wellington Free Ambulance and donated repurposed sewing machines to refugees. Members regularly prepared emergency meals for the Community Kitchen project at the Wairarapa Community Centre.

Hansen said the former Holdsworth members would continue their special projects, and would start assisting at the popular Lions Booksale at the Solway Showgrounds on Saturdays. Masterton Host Waipoua also runs youth projects and co-ordinates carparking at charity events.

Sandy Hayes added: “It is the end of an era with the closing of Holdsworth Lions but an exciting future lies ahead as members of Masterton Host Waipoua Lions. We will now be known locally as Masterton Lions.”

Lions Booksale co-ordinator Harold Devenport at the weekly Saturday morning sale at Solway Showgrounds. PHOTO/FILE

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