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Lions Club of Plymouth - History

Lions Club international

The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of Chicago businessman Melvin Jones. He believed that local business clubs should expand their horizons from purely professional concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.Melvin Jones

Jones' group, the Business Circle of Chicago, agreed. After contacting similar groups around the United States, an organizational meeting was held on June 7, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The new group took the name of one of the invited groups, the "Association of Lions Clubs," and a national convention was held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of that year. A constitution, by-laws, objects and code of ethics were approved.

Among the objects adopted in those early years was one that read, "No club shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object." This call for unselfish service to others remains one of the association's main tenets.

Just three years after its formation, the association became international when the first club in Canada was established in 1920. Major international expansion continued as clubs were established, particularly throughout Europe, Asia and Africa during the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions international convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." From this time, Lions clubs have been actively involved in service to the blind and visually impaired.

Broadening its international role, Lions Clubs International helped the United Nations form the Non-Governmental Organizations sections in 1945 and continues to hold consultative status with the U.N.

In 1990, Lions launched its most aggressive sight preservation effort, SightFirst. The US$202 million program strives to rid the world of preventable and reversible blindness by supporting desperately needed health care services. Lions have launched Campaign SightFirst II to raise at least US$150 million to continue and expand the extraordinary work of SightFirst.

In addition to sight programs, Lions Clubs International is committed to providing services for youth. Lions clubs also work to improve the environment, build homes for the disabled, support diabetes education, conduct hearing programs and, through their foundation, provide disaster relief around the world. Lions have launched Campaign SightFirst II to raise at least US$150 million to continue and expand the extraordinary work of SightFirst.

Lions Clubs International has grown to include 1.3 million men and women in approximately 45,000 clubs located in 205 countries and geographic areas.


Lions Club of Plymouth

 51 years ago a young aspiring Lawyer visited a friend in the wilds of the deepest Hertfordshire. This friend happened to be a member of the newly formed Hemel Hempstead Lions Club, and who into the young legal mind sowed the idea of forming  a Lions Club in Plymouth. 

Having made several attemps our young Hero  finally persuaded 18 other young businessmen  to join him in his endeavours, and in May 1964 a formation dinner was held at the Continental Hotel.

In order to survive all species must propagate. So a few seeds were scattered over the border which were carefully nurtured and in 1966 the first Lions Club in Cornwall was formed at Looe. Spurred on by this success, and at later dates, the Lions Club of Plym Valley and Plymouth Tamar were encouraged and assisted to become members of our association.

The Lions Club of Plymouth, and the formation of Hospital Radio Plymouth


The Lions Club of Plymouth was largely responsible for developing, and the nurturing, of Hospital Radio to becoming the successful and popular broadcaster that it is today.

Beginning in the 1950's, the Toc - H organisation commenced broadcasting through the GPO phone network, to the nine city hospitals, on Saturday afternoons when Plymouth Argyle were playing at home. This proved to be highly successful.

Then in 1967, the Plymouth Lions Club commenced a programme of music called 'Disc Date' every other Wednesday evening, carrying on as long as requests lasted, for
Mount Gould hospital.

The next stage was in 1969 when Lion Jimmie Constable, Charter President Lion Tom Hepple, and Joe Pengelley, a professional broadcaster working for the BBC, teamed up to produce a weekly show. This proved so popular that it was decided to secure bigger premises.

In late 1969,
44 New Street on the Barbican became the first permanent home for the station that now became known as Hospital Radio Plymouth. On the 2nd October 1969 the then Lord Mayor Alderman George Creber officially opened the studio.

The first programmes were transmitted on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and went to all the city's hospitals. Currently the Station broadcasts live from
2pm until Midnight throughout the week, and from 8am until 10pm at weekends.

When the operation outgrew 44 New Street the next move was to the Ladies' Hospital at Lockyer Street in March 1973. This venue lasted until the late 1970's when a move was made to the basement of a property in Nelson Gardens Stoke owned by the Trust. From there a move was made to Greenbank Hospital and then in 1994 it went across the road to Freedom Fields.

 1998 saw the re-location to Derriford Hospital, and this has been location of the station ever since.

Ten years at Derriford has been aptly celebrated by it becoming the Hospital Broadcasting associations, Station of the Year 2008.

When the Radio Station no longer needed our services ‘On Air’, due to the up and coming young Broadcasters volunteering their services, the role of the Lions became more administrative within the organisation.

Until recent years, there have been two of our Lions Club members sitting on the Board of the Trust. Initially these were Jimmie Constable and Tom Hepple. When Tom decided that he would relinquish his position due to the increase of his Business commitments, Past District Governor Lion Derek Laycock became his replacement. With these experienced hands at the helm, the Trust was gradually steered into a position where they then became more self sufficient, and then less reliant on “Charitable” funding.




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