Apathy cited in carnival threat

The future of the Lions Carnival is under threat as the club struggles to get members.
The future of the Lions Carnival is under threat as the club struggles to get members.
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Blackpool’s historic Lions Club, which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity for 60 years, is facing closure.

The membership of the Blackpool institution has fallen to just eight – and the average age of the members is almost 80.

Former president Ron Kelsall, 78, speaking on behalf of the club, said: “The writing is on the wall.

“I really don’t see how we can survive.

“The bottom line is we’re struggling to get members.

“There’s only eight members left, our lowest level ever, and we’re all in our 60s, 70s and 80s – when we go that’s it.

“Young people don’t seem to be interested, they’re too busy with their families and work. About 30 years ago when I joined it was all about giving time to people but that
seems to have gone by the board.”

At its height the Lions Club had 35 serving members and ran a series of major charity events every year, culminating in the town carnival.

The national Lions Club organisation was set up during the First World War in 1917 and the Blackpool branch opened in 1953, making it the ninth oldest Lions Club in the country.

Even in their slimmed-down version the Lions have just handed over almost £1,400 to the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity.

Ron said one of the problems was that in the past local banks and building societies used to help pay the £55 annual subscriptions but over the years that source of revenue had dried up.

He added: “Professionals in Blackpool used to be queuing up to join the Lions.

“In the 1970s we had a 12 month waiting list. It’s unbelievable how times change, but we’d welcome new members with open arms.”

Anyone who would like to join the Lions Club can contact them on 0845 8332824.

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