Three founding members of Raglan Lions Club braved the biting winds last Sunday morning to be the first to sit on a sturdy new seat alongside Kopua estuary which now marks the club’s 40 years of service to the town.

Robert Currie, Neville Meekings and Vernon Pegler — who have an average age of 80 — walked the short distance to the seat from the fire station where they and other Lions were celebrating at midday the club’s milestone anniversary with a special Sunday roast supplied by the local butcher.

The “solid-looking” seat — built by club president Bob MacLeod who ensured it’s securely bolted and cemented in place after an earlier one was stolen within days of being erected — is one of three around town made of recycled wood from the old Kopua footbridge dismantled last year.

There’s another at the jetty and one directly across the estuary from there at Kopua Domain, between the beach and the skatepark.

Raglan Community Board chairman Rodger Gallagher had the honour of “opening” the cordoned-off area to the new seat along the public pathway to the bridge while local kaumatua Sean Ellison, whose father the late Dr Tom was a Lions member, blessed the seat and prayed “may nobody choose to steal it”.

Later, back at the fire station, seven past presidents lined up for club secretary Wendy Coxhead to record for posterity on camera.

“We may be a small service group,” she said of its current 15-odd membership, “but we do a lot for Raglan.”
And she stressed how Raglan Lions liked particularly “to be behind the kids” in the community. In one of its latest projects the club came up with half the $1000 needed to hire a 40-seater bus for a local kapa haka group’s three-day trip away.

But it’s the small op shop downtown in Wallis Street that really kept Raglan Lions going, said Wendy, who manages the business with the help of many community volunteers.

“It’s our sole fundraiser … and as much money as possible after (paying) rent is put back into non-profit organisations,” she said.

Other ongoing local initiatives include funding for this month’s Sew-vember project and organising the town’s annual New Years Eve parade. A community van also got up and running last month in time for Lions Awareness Week, while the refurbishment of Te Uku School pool is a big project for which $200/month is being put aside.

Raglan Lions Club’s original charter listing its 27 founding members — all males — was pored over at Sunday’s function.

Having the club a male preserve was a sign of the times, Wendy pointed out philosophically. “Women were not allowed to join the club in those days.”

Only in 1986 was the international Lions movement constitution amended to include both sexes.