Hitchin Lions’ last fundraiser tomorrow after 48 years

PUBLISHED: 14:00 01 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:08 01 December 2017

Hitchin Lions bring their fairground organ to Market Place in December 2014. Picture: Hitchin Lions Club

Hitchin Lions bring their fairground organ to Market Place in December 2014. Picture: Hitchin Lions Club

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Hitchin Lions’ fairground organ will be in the town centre for the last time at the weekend as the club gets set to close after nearly half a century.

Phil Hall and Colin Davies man a Hitchin Lions Club health stall in 2015. Picture: Harry HubbardPhil Hall and Colin Davies man a Hitchin Lions Club health stall in 2015. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Dwindling support has prompted Hitchin Lions Club to close after dozens of years helping community causes – and tomorrow, members will bring the Gavioli organ to Market Place for the club’s last fundraising event, in aid of Hitchin Foodbank.

The organ visits have been taking place almost since the club was formed back in 1969, raising money for Meals on Wheels Christmas lunches for most of that time. This is the fourth year in which the organ events have supported the foodbank.

Club president Kavaljit Dev told the Comet: “It was a very hard decision to close after 48 years, but with the loss of our main fundraising event in 2015 and declining membership over the years, we felt we had little choice.

Handing out the Message in a Bottle equipment in Hitchin's Market Place. Picture: Hitchin Lions ClubHanding out the Message in a Bottle equipment in Hitchin's Market Place. Picture: Hitchin Lions Club

“We are proud of the support we have been able to give to the local community.”

The organ will be in Market Place from 9.30am to 1.30pm tomorrow, with donations to the foodbank welcome.

The club has been closely involved with Leonard Cheshire’s Hitchin home for disabled adults since their respective formations in 1969.

The Lions-donated wheelchair for Shopmobility is accepted by town centre manager Keith Hoskins. Picture: Hitchin Lions ClubThe Lions-donated wheelchair for Shopmobility is accepted by town centre manager Keith Hoskins. Picture: Hitchin Lions Club

The Lions provided soft furnishings for the first home and have since donated a DVD player to the facility at Symonds House, off Lucas Lane, as well as running social events and providing transport and support for individuals.

Some other projects in which the club has been involved over the years are the purchase of a wheelchair for Shopmobility, hi-vis vests for primary schoolchildren, a heart monitor for a doctor’s surgery, and donations to the charity Riding for the Disabled, among many others.

The Lions have also provided a collection point for used spectacles and dental equipment, which have been passed on to developing countries through the organisation’s national network, and championed the Message in a Bottle project in Hitchin.

Children from Wilshere-Dacre Junior Academy wearing hi-vis jackets presented by Hitchin Lions. Picture: Hitchin Lions ClubChildren from Wilshere-Dacre Junior Academy wearing hi-vis jackets presented by Hitchin Lions. Picture: Hitchin Lions Club

This sees free plastic bottles sent to groups, individuals, pharmacies and carers’ support services, with forms inside containing vital information directed at emergency personnel – helping them potentially make quick and accurate decisions to save lives.

Mr Dev said the Message in a Bottle and Message in a Wallet projects would continue in Hitchin, supported by neighbouring Lions branches in Letchworth and Stevenage.

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