Plea for volunteers as a ‘force for good’ in Harleston faces closure

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A charitable club which has helped support Harleston and its surrounds is facing closure — with the current president issuing a passionate plea in a bid to secure more volunteers.

The Harleston Lions Club has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years since forming 30 years ago.

Any body who supports the local community is a force for good

Mike Withinshaw, president, Harleston Lions Club

But due to a lack of members, the branch is due to close by the end of the year.

Harleston resident Mike Withinshaw, 68, has been involved with the club for 27 years and has been the branch’s president seven times.

He said if enough volunteers came forward, the club could continue.

During its time Harleston Lions Club has organised firework displays, golf days, the town’s county fayre and carnival, charity walks, and fancy dress collections.

While the club has supported the likes of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, BBC Children in Need and the East Anglian Air Ambulance, the majority of its money and support has benefitted the local area.

Mr Withinshaw said the club helped provide defibrillators to the surrounding villages, supported the scouts and guides in Stradbroke, and has once paid for a speech computer for a local person suffering with multiple sclerosis.

“It is good fun being a volunteer,” he said.

“We are not a stuffy sort of group that sticks to protocol. Meetings are stuffy, so we try to make it fun.

“I was invited to join the group 27 years ago. They are a great bunch of people, a great bunch of lads, and we all support each other, and share a real camaraderie.”

He added there would “almost certainly” be a hole in local support should the club fold.

“The Lions Club has definitely been a force for good,” he said. “Any body who supports the local community is a force for good.”

“It is not easy being a volunteer, you are expected to do things,” he continued.

“If we had an influx of younger membership who were keep to take the reins over from us ‘oldens’, then that would make a big difference.”

If you would like to become a volunteer with the Harleston Lions, call president Mr Withinshaw on 01379 852362

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