The formation of the Cromwell Lions Club is largely attributable to Lion Ivan Anderson. Ivan, who was at the time the Mayor of Cromwell, saw the need for some sort of service organization within the town. After many enquiries and a close look at all the large service organizations operating in the country, Ivan decided that the Lions Club because of its wider classification was the most appropriate. With this in mind he contacted the then President of the Alexandra Lions Club, Ted O'Riley, and they decided to call a public meeting in Cromwell to gauge the interest for the formation of such a club.

A public meeting was held on 10th June 1969 and was attended by thirteen local citizens representing a good cross-section of the community. There were also nine visiting Lions from Alexandra, Dunedin, Wellington, including the Zone Chairman, Roy Broad. The required level of interest was felt to be present in the town and the natural choice for first president was Ivan Anderson. It was agreed by the Alexandra Lions Club that they would sponsor the new club. The other officers elected for the first year are as set out in the cover of this history, as are the rest of the charter members.

In Business:

The first Board of Directors' meeting was held on 9th July 1969 at the Hotel Cromwell. Amongst the other matters of business it was decided that the following four committees be set up to meet the club's requirements: Attendance & Membership; Finance: Project & Programme; Public Relations. It was also decided that applications for Charter Membership would be extended to close on 20th July 1969. The first pre-Charter meting was arranged for 23 July at the Hotel Cromwell, and at this meeting President Ivan Anderson announced the chairman and personnel appointed to the various committees. It was decided at this meeting that the Charter Night be held on 18th October 1969. A large period of this pre-charter meeting was used to acquaint the members with the future aspect of the club's activities, and the Lions' role in the community.

All the members participated, with the assistance and information provided from higher levels within the organisation for the dinner.

Charter Presentation Dinner:

Saturday 18th October 1969 – the Chairman for the function was Ding Bell, and it was a great success. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Charter by District Governor Vic Preen, and its acceptance by President Ivan Anderson, and a presentation was made by the sponsoring club, Alexandra. Lions Clubs were represented by many guests from surrounding areas.

Summary of the First Ten Years:


After the club had elected its officers and got under way, the first money making effort was to auction a huge bone, named the Bone of Contention. This task was carried out by Lions Jim Kennedy and Ding Bell at a tea meeting and raised the sum of $3.50 which was sent to the Braille Appeal for which the members collected the following Saturday. Other projects undertaken during the first year were Litter Clean-up working bee; National Heart Foundation Appeal collection.

A ladies' night was held on the last tea meeting of the year at the Hotel Cromwell. This first few months of operating up until Christmas 1969 resulted in a deficit on the books of $158.28.

The first tea meeting for 1970 was held on 28 January 1970, and then on 3rd February a Special meeting was held at the Old Council Chambers to discuss ways of recuperating the deficit, and also to discuss future projects.

On 11th February the first edition of the Club Bulletin was favourably received. The same night the Charter Members' certificates were presented. March 11th came and Lion Tom Ryan from Alexandra Lions Club presented President Ivan Anderson with the gavel. A Youth Exchange Scheme with Levin Lions Club was instigated. On 18th April a Baby Bottle Drive was held and four dozen baby's bottles and $55 were collected for babies in Vietnam.


On 24th June the installation of the new officers for this year took place. An extra-ordinary meeting was held on 8th October in a bus whilst Cromwell Lions were on their way to a tea meeting with Alexandra Lions. Lions Frank Kimba and Les Fleming were selected to ride in the Elephant Race up the main street when Ridgeways Circus visited town, and for this, Ridgeways donated $10.00 to Cromwell Lions.

Projects undertaken for the year were a Steptoe Auction which raised $50.00; donation of resuscitation sets to swimming pool, ambulance and fire brigade, McSorilys Building was demolished realizing $137.00, Lions made and erected three seats for the town.

District Governor Roy Broad, Visited the club on 27th January.


During the period several fund raising activities were arranged, mainly to upgrade the children's playground area in Inniscort Street, and to donate money for the Ranui Home for the Aged in Alexandra. At a tea meeting on 22n, September it was agreed that the venue for future tea meetings be changed to the Golden Age Hotel. At the same meeting the formation of a Lions Club at Wanaka was discussed and on 10th May a meeting was held at Wanaka with the Zone Chairman, Cromwell Lions, and interested men from the Wanaka area regarding the formation of such a club.


The major project undertaken by the club in this year was the Cardiac Unit Appeal for the Cromwell Hospital. After investigating the possibility of fund­raising, $100.00 was put aside for a fairly intensive advertising campaign. This proved to be money well spent and the response to the campaign was extremely encouraging, and over $5,200.00 was raised. The Cardiac Unit was purchased in mid 1973. Other fund raising activities allowed the club to donate $100.00 to Ranui Home, $50.00 to Hurricane Bebe disaster victims in Fiji, and $100.00 was also donated to Lion John Barron whose family lost all their possessions in a house fire.


This year saw the beginning of the development of what we later knew as 'Lions Island' formerly known as 'Charlies Island' or 'Island in the Sun'. In March 1974 the club received $225.00 from the Minister of Education and Sport to build a bridge access to the island. Work was still being done throughout the year on improving the children's playground area. Lions Island was destined to be drowned beneath the waters of Lake Dunstan when it was filled in 1992, but the bridge was retrieved and set aside until July 2012 when it was returned to Bendigo. The bridge had been made from the bucket ladder of the Bendigo Gold Light Dredge, which operated at Bendigo in 1935. 

The Bendigo Gold Light Dredge in 1935

Connie Perriam cutting the ribbon on the new bridge to Lions Island with Margaret Jolly (left) and Charlie Perriam, right. Thanks to Margaret Connelly for the photo.

On 2nd December 1973 the Cromwell Senior Citizens were taken on a Christmas outing to the Hawea Nursery, and back to Mr & Mrs Allan Jolly's residence for afternoon tea.


The Cromwell Lions Club sponsored the new Lions Club at Wanaka into formation in 1974.They held their Charter Night on 30th November at the THC Hotel, and at the time had 42 members. The Club sponsored the visit of Miss Patricia Bartlett to Cromwell in August of 1974, and as well as assisting in the usual house-to-house collections for various organizations, they raised money by organizing a Walkathon from Tarras to Cromwell.


The major project during the year was the 'Mayor for the Day' project held from November until January. Each hotel put up candidates, and every cent put in each candidate's box counted as one vote. The project was very successful and raised over $2500.00

Other small projects were undertaken during the year to keep Lions on their toes, and the traditional projects such as collection of firewood, door-to-door collections, race-day BBQ, elderly citizen's outing, Pig-in-a-Barrow raffle were also undertaken.


President Leo Mangos was a 'club visitation' man, and therefore one of the projects for the year was to visit all of the clubs in the Central Otago area for the tea meetings. Turnouts were generally quite good, and several enjoyable evenings were spent with other Lions clubs.

This was a fairly quiet year as far as major projects were concerned and once again the club carried out all its traditional door-to-door collections, and participated in other fund raising activities.


In August, President Allan Jolly, proposed that a Lady Lions Auxiliary be formed, and after a meeting of interested parties at Lion Don Alexander's residence, it was decided to go ahead. Projects undertaken during the year included three local youths sent to Australia on the Youth Exchange Scheme, the Senior Citizens' outing to the deer park, and an A.F.S. student was sponsored to the tune of $450.00. There was a donation made of $100.00 to the Little Sisters of the Poor Appeal, the cottage hospital was restored and opened in January 1978, a spinal stretcher worth $200.00 was donated to St Johns Ambulance, $500.00 was donated to the Cromwell Scout & Guide Associations, a local youth was sponsored to the Outward Bound School, $200.00 donated to the Cromwell Kindergarten Committee, $90.00 raised from the sale of Swedes, the traditional Easter 'Pig-in-a­Barrow' raffle was run, $100.00 raised from potato sales, unused toys left at a collection point in Lion Neville Hucklebridge's shop were distributed to less privileged children, and a sponsored walk raised money to get a Porta­Power machine for the Cromwell Fire Brigade, The Publican Popularity Poll was won by Lion George Coiling of the Golden Age Hotel, and this raised $3000.00.


In July the club was visited by the International Vice-President Lloyd Morgan, along with National Secretary Ron Rowe, and the District Governor Bruce Caldwell, at a tea meeting held at the Cromwell Golf Club rooms.

Cromwell Lions initiated the Lions Flood Relief campaign which eventually raised millions of dollars throughout New Zealand. The club assisted the Cromwell Musical Society in holding two Wheeltappers & Shunters evenings at the Bannockburn Hall, which raised $600.00

Other projects undertaken for the year included the Braille and St Johns Ambulance collections, the firewood collection, the Australian Youth Exchange Scheme, Eddie Charlton Pool competition, and assistance was given to the Women's Institutes Gala Day at Bannockburn which was held at Labour Weekend. Development at Lions Island also progressed throughout the year.

The big project for the year however was the Big Dig competition, held on New Year's Eve at a site on the Ministry of Works industrial area. Several major prizes were offered including air fare for two to Australia. The day proved to be a huge success, and raised enough money to enable us to donate an automatic drip feed machine to the Cromwell Hospital.


Lions' Ladies:

It is difficult to adequately express what the success and progress of the Cromwell Lions Club owes to the support and encouragement given by the wives of club members. Many hours have been spent preparing food and refreshments for outings, plus help on numerous other projects. It is no exaggeration to say that the club functions more successfully with their goodwill, assistance and encouragement, and for this the Lions are extremely grateful.



It is relevant that in researching the club's brief history much has had to remain unrecorded or has been glossed over. Major events may be considered overshadowed by trivia, but it is all part of the club history.


It does appear the club has always been an enthusiastic and happy one. No doubt the present rapid increase in the population of Cromwell will have its effect on the club. It will, hopefully, grow more and prosper further into the future. On this, the threshold of the club's second decade of growth we must look back over those years and salute those who had the faith and drive to foster the club as well as those who worked together to establish the group to which we are all proud to belong.


It is with regret that those responsible for the compiling of this short history of the club have not had available the minutes and correspondence for some years of the club's being. Every attempt has been made to establish what went on in those years, but apology is given if some items members feel worthy of mention in such a history have been overlooked.

Compiled and produced by Lion Alan McKay, April 1979 for the 10th anniversary of the club

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