THERE is little doubt that one of the most active Lion Clubs on the Costa del Sol is that which was founded in La Cala de Mijas in 1998.
It’s an English language group which knows no barriers to good deeds and is committed to helping those in need regardless of colour, creed or nationality and all of its revenue is used to help not just charities but local clubs, schools and individuals.
Every year on Charter Night, a new President takes up their one-year tenure and this year, it’s the turn of Graham Rutland who first moved to Spain in 2001 after a long and distinguished career with the Ministry of Defence.
It was here that Graham met his wife Dot who is also a Lion and after a five-year sojourn in France, they returned to Spain in 2017 and have dedicated a lot of time to the La Cala de Mijas Lions.
The Lions can only help if they have funds available and there has been something of a hiatus due to the lockdown as their charity shop in Calle Torremolinos which is their main source of income was closed for so long and they still had to pay the rent on the property.
Now open again, they are particularly aware of the need to ensure both social distancing and perfect hygiene so all items are put into quarantine by double bagging before going into the shop and clothes are steam cleaned initially and then if tried on.
Since inception, this single branch of Lions International has now raised €1 million, all of which has gone to help those in need and Graham says in his mission statement;
“During my tenure, I want to try to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate in the community.
“Encourage children and youth to be physically active.
“Support the disabled
“Increase the membership of the Lions to further enhance our capabilities.”
Membership support is very important and the one worrying thing about the group is that the average age is higher than Graham would like as he wants to see new ideas and have a base of younger members to take the Lions through in the future.
As well as making funds available to help those in need and local schools (of which there are eight) the Lions are restarting their very popular Diabetes Awareness Group as well as introducing an Alzheimer’s Support Group aimed particularly at carers and those whose partners are suffering from the disease.
To summarise, these Lions do great work to raise funds but need support at the shop (which is manned completely by volunteers) by people visiting and buying goods as well as donating items they no longer need.
The other important source of income is the regular social events organised on a regular basis.