The sponsoring club was the Toowong Lions Club and a member from that club, Brian Biggs, was to be what is known as our ‘Guiding Lion’. It was an interesting meeting as it all went very quickly and suddenly we were forming a Lions Club. Unbeknown to us, it was more an important occasion for the then District Governor as he and the District 201Q3 were in the race to obtain one of the highest honours a District Governor can achieve, that of Chartering the most new clubs in the world. D.G. Phil went on to gain this award with many new clubs formed in 201Q3 by 30th June that year. A great achievement. Ray Crompton was elected as the Charter President, with Dick Austin as the Charter Secretary. Some 21 men on that evening committed themselves to the initial club membership. The regular meeting dates and times were decided that night and have not changed to this day. We had to have what was known as a Charter Night, which was to be our official launch as a Club with most clubs in our district being invited, along with local dignitaries etc. This was set to be one of the first and most important tasks. The date was set for the 21st July and was to be held at the Albert Axon Hall at the University of Queensland.
Our first Board meeting was held at Presidents Ray’s place and many of the proposed ideas for the coming inaugural year were discussed including the arrangements for our Charter Night at the University. We decided that we would make it a good show in the form of a dinner dance and have a live rock band. Invitations to all clubs in our district were sent out and our own club members were encouraged to bring along their friends and family as guests. The big night came and what a night it was. Special guests were our local member, Bill Lickis and Sallyanne Atkinson and about 250 guests, mostly Lion members from other clubs all over Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. They gave us various Lions regalia such as our Tailtwisting lion, our Club banner and monetary donations. All Charter Lions from our Club were individually introduced on stage and the first Board of the club was inducted with Ray Crompton as our Charter President. Our Charter plaque was presented which has listed on it all of the Charter Members. Charter President Ray gave his induction speech, highlighting the following five aims for our Club; -
To this day our club still abides by these five original aims. It was then time for dancing which we the new lions did well after midnight when all other guests had left. We decided to pay for an extra hour for the band to continue and that, along with many other extraordinary expenses started our club off slightly in the ‘red’. However other clubs in the District saw our plight and donations flowed in to rectify the problem. We the members soon realized that this Lions organization was something to belong to! Two of our original Charter Members, Keith Mathiesen and Lindsay Stewart are still members of this club. During the following months we got down to the serious business of being Lions with projects and fund raising beginning to take shape.
Our first major undertaking came from one of our members who came up with the idea of a Lions Park in Bellbowrie. After many months of negotiation with the BCC we were granted the land along the river at the end of Birkin Rd. Lions have vision and member Greg Loudon saw how we could turn a rough, overgrown piece of scrub land into a park to be enjoyed by all the community. For the next 10 years or so this park was continually maintained and mown by us, expanded and improved to what it is today.
The house had exhausted all the funds of the Leukemia Society and thus leaving them unable to make the house liveable. On inspection it was a bad buy as it had numerous problems, including borers. The idea was for us to convert the house to make it liveable for two families at a time. We initially thought $7500 would see this through and a few months work on various weekends by our members. Again with vision from one of our members, Jack Watson, he came up with an ambitious plan to raise the house up on new pillars, dig out underneath and enclose the entire lower half with bricks. This would double the accommodation capacity with up to five families staying at any one time. A new roof would be required and major repairs and replacements to be carried out. A total repaint and new fitout of furniture would finish the job. After some two years of work carried out by this club mostly on weekends and $50,000 the house was completed to our wishes. An interesting part of this project was the ability for it to be continually used by the parents of patients during our work. This particular project was through the dedication of 3 of our members at the time, Jack Watson, Jack Straughan and Ed Gibson; all who met through Lions and continue their friendship today.
Our actual first project ever undertaken was the building of a concrete Cricket pitch at the Pullenvale state school. This was completed in one weekend and as an 'official opening and christening' we had a cricket match against the Bremer River Lions Club with a BBQ lunch. This then became a yearly match for many years to follow.
During this first year many projects were undertaken including the following. We sponsored a young 14-year-old teenage boy from a low-income family at Charleville and gave him the opportunity to come to Brisbane for 2 weeks. In fact he had never been away from home in his life and it was the first time he had ever seen the sea or beach. A number of our members accommodated him and for 2 weeks probably saw more of Brisbane and surrounds than most other children have done at that age. Our first year was when the SEQEB power strike was on and for about 5 days there was no power at all in the Bellbowrie district. Through the foresight of our President Ray Compton, he arranged a large freezer van to be stationed at the Bellbowrie shops and we the Lions went door knocking on every household collecting residents frozen food items and storing in the van until the power crisis was over. This particular project was very much appreciated by the locals and made the people of our suburbs very much aware of our new club. We began collecting old spectacles for sending to the people of India to be utilized in the hospitals over there. We commenced in September the Cancer Doorknock appeal, a day that we still continue to do on behalf of the Qld Cancer Society. We sold some 66 dozen Christmas cakes that year and helped at the first Carols by Candlelight. A house numbering project where we placed residential house numbers on the kerb in front of each household was a fundraising project. Some of these reflective numbers can still be seen throughout Bellbowrie. We conducted a Hearing-screening clinic for pre-school children at the local kindergarten over one weekend with the help of a local doctor.
Our club made its first entry in the Lions Youth of the Year contest with Keith Mathiesen being the chairman of this project, which he did for a number of years to follow.
One particular unique but fun project we undertook was on Christmas eve that year with the help of a local resident (a barrister) who had a couple beautiful restored sulkies and trotting hacks. In the early evening we slowly cantered around the streets of Bellbowrie in the two sulky carts with two of our members dressed as Santas, one in each sulky, giving out lollies to the young kids. It was great with residents coming out into the street to wish us well and their kids receiving a little treat. Ray Crompton was one of the Santas and when the two carts met in their travels, Ray had a huge brass school bell which he had been ringing. At that point in our travels Ray decided to give a great shake of the bell; on the other cart was one of our Lions members who did not know what was about to strike him. His horse, being an ex racing trotter, immediately thought he was on the racetrack and took the bell as the last lap bell and bolted!! After doing one complete block of Bellbowrie in the fastest lap time ever, our poor Lion member returned well worn for the worse and quite physically shaken. The local barrister was not impressed either with our horsemanship although he did front up over the next few years to do the same thing again for the local children but bells were not allowed. On the social side we had a number of get togethers to make sure we all became acquainted with each other. A wine and cheese night was held at Keith and June's place, which was the first of many. We commenced our car picnics, had a snooker night and a number of BBQ's.
Our club adhered to the administration rules of Lions with extensive minutes of both Board and Dinner meetings taken.
In hindsight it was a busy year, especially for a new Lions Club, but we enjoyed the spirit of Lionism and we had a lot of fun.
We also had a few setbacks. We chartered with some 35 members and because of the rush to form a club, some members did not see Lions as their interest so during the year we lost about half of our charter members. We also gained almost as many and our final membership, which was quite stable by the end of the year, was 28 members. For a new Lions club this was considered very good.
Our charter 'Guiding Lion' Brian Biggs from the Toowong Lions was a tremendous help throughout the year. He attended every Dinner and Board meeting, every project we had and really became a part of our club. He was a true 'Guiding Lion' who without his help our club may have never survived. Sadly, Brian suffered a heart attack in the April of our first year and passed away. It was a sudden shock to all of us to lose such a friend. In Memory of Brian our club instigated the 'Brian Biggs Memorial Jug' a water urn made of silver which each year is awarded by the President to an outstanding Lion in our club.