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Local legends . . . Waimate Lions members (from left) Ron Harris, Melville Squires, Noel Fabian and John Fenwick stand outside the Lions caravan at the 2008 Lions Convention. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Half a century of service to the Waimate community will be marked this weekend, when the Lions Club of Waimate celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The club was first chartered on June 21, 1969, under the sponsorship of the Lions Club of Oamaru.

The late Gib Staite – the club’s first president – was in attendance at the first meeting, as were 19 charter members.

Since then, the club’s motto “We Serve” has been faithfully followed by numerous club members in the years following.

One major project was the establishment of the Lions Community Vehicle in the town, which started in 1980 – light years ahead of many smaller towns now getting in on the community vehicle scheme.

The first vehicle was a former ambulance, converted by the club to carry passengers, however, it was soon replaced by a 10-seater vehicle – which was later replaced with a purpose-built total mobility community vehicle.

It continued to grow and by 2002 it needed greater community involvement.

The Waimate Community Vehicle Trust was formed and all assets relating to the vehicle were handed over to the trust members to run on a self-sufficient basis.

Other major projects have included shifting buildings for new purposes – including a 2005 project moving the 94-year-old Douglas School to the Waimate Museum site, taking a total of 610 man-hours by 35 club members.

Mention should be made of the many practical projects that stand throughout the town as a record of the club’s community involvement.

They include providing 20 bench seats to provide a resting place for residents as they walk about the town, painting the band rotunda, gates and seats in Seddon square, as well as establishing a CD loan collection in the Waimate Library.

In 1981, the Lions Club bought an old caravan and converted it for the sale of candy floss for fundraising purposes – proving very popular, and its product was extended to include food and cordials.

The caravan itself may have changed but demand for its products has steadily increased and can be seen now at most events held in the Waimate area.

The van is now the main fundraising venture, and the proceeds are returned to the community.

The club’s latest project has been developing an area of Boland Park, which is now paved and has seating and tables for public use, and planning is under way to provide some cover for a section of this area.

Members of the Lions Club of Waimate are very grateful for the support given to the club by the public, and look forward to further partnerships with the community for the common good of the town.

– Supplied by Tony Sadler