Rye & District Lions to close after 40 years

Members of the Rye and District Lions Club at the Beckley Village Centre Brass Band Concert in January 2013. Picture by Tony Coombes Photography
Members of the Rye and District Lions Club at the Beckley Village Centre Brass Band Concert in January 2013. Picture by Tony Coombes Photography

A group which raises money for numerous charities and good causes in the area is closing down due to dwindling numbers in its membership.

Rye and District Lions Club has existed for 40 years and during that time has collected hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.

Currently it raises more than £14,000 each year for many good causes, local, national and international.

Recent donations made by the club have included contributions to the Air Ambulance, St Leonards-based St Michael’s Hospice, Macmillan Cancer Support, Age Concern, Demelza House Children’s Hospice, Japan Earthquake Appeal, Help for Heroes, and the Oliver Curd Trust.

Rachael Elsey, treasurer of Rye and District Lions, said: “The group is closing due to a lack of membership and because existing members are getting older with health problems and so on.

“We just can’t do the same amount of work that we used to do. We have members in their 90s and we haven’t been able to attract any new membership for the last few years.

“It’s just got to the point where there aren’t enough of us left to make the group viable any more.

“We used to do the Rye Raft Race but this was stopped because our membership was getting too old. It was a lot of hard work so we had to stop three years ago.

“There is now seven or eight of us left whereas there used to be 15 to 20 members.”

She added Rye and its surroundings will still be served by a Lions group in the future.

Rachael, who has been a member of Rye and District Lions Club for five years, said: “It may be that Hastings Lions will take over part of our area or the Lions club in Tenterden.”

Rye and District Lions Club covers the Rye area and surrounding villages, as well as part of Hawkhurst in Kent and Pett. Rachael said the club took over part of Hawkhurst some time ago after that town’s club closed.

She said: “It’s sad that we’re having to close. We expect to close by the end of this year or by the middle of January next year at the latest. Rye and District Lions would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and support over the last 40 years.”

Lions International is the world’s largest service club organisation with more than 1.4 million members.

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