Fun, friendship and fulfilment. The chance to help your community, fund good causes and find a sense of laughter-filled camaraderie along the way. It’s a pretty good description of what it’s like belonging to Bridgnorth Lions Club.
If it sounds up your street, why not give it a try?
Although the club is in a very healthy state with over 20 active members, the Lions are always keen to recruit new members and there’s the chance to try it out as a guest to ensure that you enjoy it. They are friendly, outgoing chaps so you would be guaranteed a warm welcome.
It is the opportunity to be part of a genuine success story – an organisation that makes a tangible difference to the lives of those in its community.
You will almost certainly have come across this big-hearted club if you live in and around the Bridgnorth area.
Their annual Bridgnorth Walk and Marathon event draws thousands of people together – either as participants or cheering spectators – in a wonderful community event that raises approaching £100,000 annually for charity.
Their annual Duck Race brings enjoyment to many, adding much to the overall fun of Bridgnorth’s Annual Carnival while raising money for good causes.
And their annual PSA testing service – offering men prostate cancer screening – literally saves lives. In 2022 a Diabetes and Cholesterol test was added to the event.
The club supports a range of local charities and community organisations, as well as individuals facing personal challenges. In addition, it gets involved in supporting national and international causes – for instance, last year’s walk and marathon revolved around support for Ukraine.
Closer to home, the club received a request for help from a local boxing club.
“It was unanimously agreed that we provide £400 to buy 25 new pairs of boxing gloves to replace very worn-out ones. We think the club makes a great contribution to the community providing a sport for young people that is all about fitness, discipline and other virtues,” says Bridgnorth Lions’ spokesman Martin Allen.
Another example of kindness saw the club contribute towards a mobility scooter for a local woman.
This Christmas, Bridgnorth Lions were instrumental in setting up, in conjunction with Bridgnorth Food Bank, ‘Christmas Smile’. A grant of £500 was spent buying gifts for those in the community who were not going to receive one.
This welter of support for the community requires countless hours of voluntary time and organisational effort by a small team of Lions. And they would welcome the fresh injection of energy and ideas that new members would inevitably bring.
“The main thing to emphasise is that it is a great deal of fun,” Martin says. “It will appeal to men who want to make a contribution to their community, to help others and to enjoy the company of like-minded men. To experience a real sense of fellowship.”
Regular club night meetings are on the second Tuesday of each month, at The Down Inn, just outside Bridgnorth on the Ludlow Road.
“This is a business meeting when we all get suited-and-booted and there is a sense of formality and tradition,” Martin explains.
Bridgnorth Lions President Neill Flannery adds, “This is when all fundraising proposals, welfare requests and our social events are discussed and voted on. This is a structured meeting which allows everyone to air their thoughts on any club-related issues in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.”
Martin continues, “After the business part of the meeting we have a meal together and there is also plenty of good-humoured, lively banter flying around. These meetings are always hugely enjoyable with 25 blokes taking the mickey out of one another. There are some real characters in the club.”
Age is clearly no barrier. “One of our members is 85 and always seems to be on top form,” Martin says with a smile.
Martin himself is one of the younger members of a club that reflects a broad age range. As with any organisation relying on volunteers, recruitment is vital and they would be delighted to hear from any men willing to make a contribution to the community.
“We feel we have an organisation here that more men would really enjoy belonging to if they found out more and gave it a chance,” Martin says.
In addition to the monthly full meetings, each member is assigned to one of three committees – social, welfare and fundraising. Sub-committees oversee the walk and marathon, Duck Race and prostate cancer screening event.
And there are also regular social events when members are accompanied by wives and partners.
“These can range from day trips to places like Salford TV studios or Drakelow top secret tunnels to bowling, quiz nights or an outing to a panto,” Neill explains. “On average, a new member would realistically be giving up three to four evenings a month.”
Martin adds, “In addition, you make good friends over the years and find yourself socialising more regularly. For instance, some members have formed a Distinguished Gentleman’s Dining Club, in which they take it in turns to act as hosts and prepare a meal.”
Bridgnorth Lions Club was founded in 1976 and in that time has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for good causes.
It has put its own stamp on the long-established Bridgnorth Walk, since taking over organisation of the event on its 50th anniversary in 2017.
The event regularly raises over £100,000 for good causes and attracts both competitive and weekend walkers who enjoy a wonderful community atmosphere along the 22-mile route.
In 2019 the Lions announced a major expansion to the weekend by adding a marathon for runners. The move was a major success, with the race judged to be extremely challenging but rewarding as the route took in some of the most beautiful Shropshire countryside, including a visit to the top of the 1,770ft Brown Clee.
Since taking over the event, Lions have added a number of safety innovations. More than 100 marshals give up their time to provide water and encouragement every mile along the route. Local organisations such as the WI, Rotary club, scouts and ATC cadets, as well as individual families or groups of friends, man the water stations and cheer the participants. On the day itself the town is buzzing with market stalls and visitors enjoying the historic town centre. This year’s event is scheduled for the Bank Holiday on Monday 1st May.
The Duck Race is another spectacle that brings the community together and raises funds for charity.
“Around 1,000 plastic ducks set off along the river from just north of the rowing club and crowds line the banks to watch them go by. Although they are routinely picked up at the other side of the bridge, if they get caught by a current, they can go a fair way. One was once fished out of the Severn at Bristol,” recalls Martin with a chuckle.
Want to get involved?
If being a part of all of this fun, friendship and fundraising appeals, then Neill Flannery is the man to contact.
He explains, “The normal procedure, just to get a taster, is that you come along as a guest to three meetings and if you like us and we like you, you would be invited to join us in the Bridgnorth Lions Club.
You have nothing to lose by just giving me a call on 07877 140099 and having a chat.