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President's Blog

Click the relevant months for that month's blog:

December 2018

Have you noticed how often reports about young people in the press are usually about them getting into trouble? It's all very negative. One of the wonderful things about being a club president is that you come across young people doing good in their community, playing part in their school's affairs, representing school and club in sports and, generally, putting the case for decent, respectable, sensible youngsters.

I have written before about pupils at Ysgol Maes Garmon, Mold receiving Young Leaders in Service awards from the Club to acknowledge the charitable work they perform in their communities. A grandson of one of my Lion colleagues has also received this award.

I recently visited St Richard Gwyn High School, Flint, to present prizes to pupils taking part in a photographic competition we had arranged. The number of entries submitted and the interpretation of the environmental theme showed just how much they think of their environment and the pride they have in their communities and countries.

I met many pupils at Flint High School at their awards evening and came away amazed at their extramural activities and their commitment to school projects. It really does get very humbling. I went back to the Flint High School with colleagues to attend their Armistice Centenary event. The drama department depected scenes from many wars that have occurred over the last century. It was cleverly prepared and performed. It had an impact on members of the audience that would remain with them for a long time. It was not just the pupils that learnt from that experience. I told the Headmaster "they did you proud": I could tell from his reaction that he agreed. A nice touch of inter-school cooperation at this event was the very moving Last Post performed by a pupil from St Richard Gwyn School. 

Writing about "Armistice", I am pleased to confirm that three sites have accepted our invitation for the placement of commemorative benches. They will be delivered early in the New Year and I will write more about this at that time.

Members of the Club attended Armistice Day services at Flint and Holywell and laid poppy wreaths. This is something that the club has done since its creation in 1973. In those days, we had members who had served in the Second World War: now, we still have members who served in National Service. Our commitment to remembrance will continue.

I am pleased to say we have now placed our fifth defibrillator at the public's service. This one is at Libby's Community Cafe in Chapel Street Connah's Quay. Our sixth device will be operating in Bagillt very soon. Others are planned. I've writtn before that it is hoped they will never be needed but our experience over the last six months is that they are used more frequently than we ever anticipated.

So, here we are! December! The build up to Christmas.

We will visit the Daffodil Club's Christmas Party: also that of the Autumn Club. We will deliver food hampers to people we feel need that little bit extra at Christmas. It is only a token but we hope those chosen can make good use of the contents. We will escort Father Christmas on his rounds of local hospitals and old people's  homes.

We will also be collecting funds at Asda Deeside and Sainsburys Flint. When you see us there,come and have a chat about what we do and, please, keep in mind that all we do costs!

God Bless and Happy Christmas!

John

November 2018

So, here we are, November is upon us, the clocks have gone back and four months of my Presidency have flown by. I wrote at the beginning of October about the impending Prostate Cancer Event: it took place on 9th October and was, in every respect, a great success.

357 men came to the Flint High School and provided blood samples. We have been advised by the retired consultant surgeon who monitors the results that nine men received "amber" letters advising them to discuss the matters with their GP as a precautionary measure and ten received "red" letters advising urgent appointment with their GPs. The consultant wrote  "I suspect you and your Lions Club members have helped about 15 men to prevent them from dying from prostate cancer". The event will have cost the club over £6000: if it has saved even one life it is money well spent. The samples are taken at no expense to the attenders. This years numbers equate with the total of attenders at the previous two events. We thank the Flint High School for hosting the event and our friends at St Johns Ambulance for being in reassuring attendance.

We have funding available for one more such event in Autumn 2019: thereafter we have a problem: we may not have funds to continue into the 2020s. We raise such modest amounts each year that we would have to give up all our other projects and donations if the Cancer Event proceeded without external funding. We will have to put our thinking caps on! If any of you know of a potential sponsor, please let us know. Thank you.

Some members visited the Blind Veterans UK premises in Llandudno during the month. We were amazed at the incredible work done by this charity for any person who served in the armed forces at any time who has, as a result of such service, or, subsequently, lost their sight. The equipment available and the training given is worth seeing and learning about but, even more worthwhile is seeing the end products of such equipment and training. As a fully sighted individual, I wish I could paint and draw as well as these people or create the models and crafts that they do.

Our Environmental Photographic competition concluded in October. The prizes were awarded to two pupils from St Richard Gwyn High School and to the school itself. The standard of the entries was exceptional and provided the judges with a challenging exercise.

You may have noticed, on the front page of this e-Clubhouse, that we are now registered with the Smile Amazon campaign. Shoppers with Amazon who buy via this scheme benefit the club with 0.5% of the purchase price being donated by Amazon. If you shop on Amazon and are not committed to another charity please consider giving us your support: it comes at no cost to yourself.

Write to you again next month!

 

October 2018

This month has flown by. We have been really busy. August had been quiet with so many committed to their holidays.

Our big project at present is the Prostate Cancer Awareness event at Flint High School on 9th October (5p m to 8 p m). We have been seeking to publicise this as much as possible. In the last two years we have had 350 men tested and found that 20 have been advised by our retired consultant to seek urgent medical advice. We progress this venture encouraged that we have been instrumental in saving lives. We hope to see even more men at this year's event.

The encouragement of saving lives is, also, an impetus to us in our defibrillator campaign. A group of us recently attended the Carmel Village Hall where I had the honour of unveiling our fourth defibrillator. We always hope that they will have little or no use but it is incredible how often the three machines previously donated have been used. We are funding four more in the near future - watch this space. I wish to thank the good people of the village hall for their cooperation, hospitality and, indeed, a generous donation to the club.

It is also proper, at this stage, that I thank the customers, staff and management of Lidl Holywell: we had a bucket collection on two days in September. The generosity of people like them ensures our continuance. Every penny counts and every penny is ploughed back into the community as these blogs testify.

Four of us visited Claire House Children's Hospice, Clatterbridge, early in the month to present a cheque for a fund set up to buy a car for the team that liaises between hospice and family homes - a vital link in their wonderful work. We were shown around the facilities. It is truly heart wrenching to realise what the hospice is there to do but so uplifting to see how they achieve their aims and the response they receive from the children and their families. We were delighted to learn at the month's end that the target has been met and the car is on order.

Our social event this month was a visit to Plas Newydd, Llangollen - the "home of the two ladies". The history of the building and their famous occupants is fascinating. Our wives joined us on the visit. We view our social calendar as a vital part of the club's success and I am most grateful to Bryn Jones who so enthusiastically looks after the social programme.

Finally, with three colleagues, I attended the Flint High School Achievements Celebration. I was delighted to present the Club's Annual Awards to five recipients, each nominated by the Learning Management team. At the same event, my colleague, Ken Hughes, presented the Alan Jones Community Shield: this was donated by the club in memory of a colleague who passed on to higher service: it is presented annually. It was awe inspiring to watch the whole of the event and to acclaim not only what these young people have achieved for themselves with the help of the school and staff but also to learn how they devote so much time to doing good not only in the school but in the wider community. Long may it continue. Now, how do I start a recruiting campaign..............

See you next month!

September 2018

August seemed to be a quiet month: there were no major events. However, when you sit back and think about what you want to say in your blog, it is surprising how much has been going on in the background. The club is like a duck on water! - swimming quietly on top but, below, the little legs are working like mad. Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army might have described us as a well oiled machine.

Our next major event is the Prostate Cancer Awareness evening at Flint High School on 9th October. Latest Data Protection rules mean that we have had to revamp all the paperwork. We are putting out posters and flyers: we hope to discuss the event on local radio, we are trying to attract the attention of new "clients" via local newsletters in English and Welsh. We have to ensure all equipment is available, the phlebotomists are booked and the courier will collect at the appropriate time. We are lucky that our first two events were so successful. Members keep their designated roles and get on with their duties. All being well, we shall have another successful event: it is important for previous "clients" to return for a fresh check-up: it makes you feel really please with the club when you realise we may have been instrumental in saving twenty lives in the last two years.

Lions Clubs International are encouraging clubs to get involved in Diabetic awareness events. It is something we used to do until a partner charity withdrew. We will try again. Watch this space.

We need to prepare a new set of bottles in the Message in a Bottle campaign: we have to wait for supplies but will let our distributors know as soon as they are ready. Another club has come up with the interesting suggestion that as well as putting one of these tubes in the fridge for paramedics to seek details of prescriptions, allergies and illnesses, it would be an advantage to duplicate the exercise with a tube ("bottle") in the glove compartment of the car in case an emergency arises whilst the patient is out in the car.

Our first two defibrillators, in Flint and Holywell continue to be used. Again there is a "feel-good" factor in realising that our provision of such machines is potentially saving lives. A third machine is now with the first responder service and our fourth is about to be fixed in Carmel.

It is at this point that I get to my perpetual rant! These services, that we are willing and very prepared to provide within the limited finances available to us, should, in an ideal world be provided by the state. As I wrote in July:

"In many respects, it could be argued that these  projects should be funded by the state but they will not be: so, for as long as the club can raise finance for them, we will, in our small way, do all we can to follow our motto – “We Serve” – and continue to provide these services."

Thus, dear reader, if you see us outside your supermarket with our buckets, think on what we do and, please, play your part. Thank you.

August 2018

So, here we are at the end of my first month in office: it has seen some successes and fun but has also been tinged with much sadness as Harry Hughes, our oldest member, passed on to higher service on 6th July, aged 93.

Harry was very well respected in his community as well as within our club.  At his funeral, at St Thomas Parish Church, Flint Mountain, where he had served as Church Warden for so many years, Harry's family were joined by his former customers, other members of the general community and our club. We formed  a guard of honour as Harry left the church, twenty members of the club including a Past District Governor and two other former Governors joined us, surely an indication of the respect held for Harry within Lions.      

Harry had a natural sense of humour that he displayed at our meetings and when he was "shaking the bucket", collecting funds. I was going to say that Harry would not have let any former customer pass without donating to the bucket, but, on reflection, I am sure that they wanted to make a payment to demonstrate their respect for their milkman.                                                                       

Harry was also well-known in the wider community. I first met him, long before he joined the club, when I was acting for a client seeking an off-licence in Flint. Harry had volunteered to give evidence in support. I told the bench I was calling "Mr Harry Hughes": the Chairman of the bench corrected me and said I was calling "Harry the Milk"! On the way out of court, after the hearing, another magistrate advised Harry she needed extra milk on Saturday!  

Thank you for the memories Harry: God bless and rest in peace.

The first of our visits being arranged by a busy social committee was to Bodrhyddan Hall near Dyserth. This is the home of Lord Langford, set in glorious gardens. The guided tour showed us how this is, very much, a lived-in property despite its portraits galore, its armaments collections, porcelain and all sorts of memorabilia not necessarily associated with the area. Who would expect an Egyptian mummy in Dyserth? Thanks to Bryn and his colleages for a trip enjoyed by the members and their ladies.  

I don't know if it was the chance of a breakfast or the fact that someone had a camera with them but we had a good turn out for breakfast club last week. Sixteen members were seen to troop across High Street Holywell to the site of our third defibrillator which is located in Panton Place. We are grateful to the local businesses for their support and cooperation. We hope to have a venue for our fourth defibrillator shortly.

The club committees have been meeting to set up arrangements for their specific responsibilities with a view to making full reports to the August business meeting. Thanks to you all for the work you put in.

 

July 2018

Hello!

I am the incoming president of Flint and District Lions Club and this is my first blog of the year. I first served in this capacity in 1974-75 having been the vice-president in the year the club was chartered. In the years since then, the club has grown from strength to strength and it will be hard work to emulate those who have preceded me. In that regard, I want to, especially, congratulate and thank Bryn Jones, the retiring President, for the way he led the club in the past twelve months. He worked tirelessly, attending as many events as he possibly could and introduced the defibrillator campaign that I believe will be a key part of the club’s outreach in the future. He has set a very high standard to follow.

There are three major service projects in which the club is involved: these will continue during my year of office and, hopefully, beyond.

The club has been a lead club in the Message in a Bottle and Message in a Wallet campaign for many years. This is a project that distributes containers to place within the house and wallets to carry around that contain details of illnesses, drugs taken, allergies and other information that will be vital to, for example, a paramedic attending a patient who may not be able to provide that information personally. The bottles and wallets are freely available to any who need them: we are particularly grateful for the interest shown in the project by our principal distributors, the Red Cross and NEWCIS.

During the next year, I hope to have a relaunch of the project to ensure that as many people as possible are aware of the kit available and its purposes.

Two years ago, we held a Prostate Cancer Awareness event. Flint High School kindly allowed us to use facilities at the school. Blood samples were professionally taken from about 150 men: these samples were analysed: letters were sent to each participant by a retired Consultant Urologist confirming the result of their test. Ten men were advised to seek further medical assistance via their GP.

We learnt that one of those men advised his brother to have a test carried out: it led to that brother and a friend of his both needing further medical assistance relating to prostate cancer.

The costs of those processes are borne completely by the Flint and District Lions Club. Last year, we provided the same service to 200 men with a similar result. We will hold this year’s event, again at Flint High School (to whom we are extremely grateful), on Tuesday October 9th starting at 5 p.m. We believe we may have been instrumental in saving up to 20 lives. The cost to the club, thus far, is about £8,000. If only one life has been saved, we consider that to be money well spent.

Earlier this year, Bryn Jones, the retiring president, had as his main project the provision of a defibrillator in Church Street, Flint. In its first two months of service it was used three times. The use to which it has been put has encouraged us to buy one for Holywell town centre and another for a first responder. I hope in my year to continue the placement of these machines in the area. We believe five can be placed by Christmas. Others will hopefully be placed in the New Year but that will depend on the generosity of the public as we collect funds via our usual bucket collections at local supermarkets.

In many respects, it could be argued that these three projects should be funded by the state but they will not be: so, for as long as the club can raise finance for them, we will, in our small way, do all we can to follow our motto – “We Serve” – and continue to provide these services.

John Gregory

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