Lions Recent Activity

Youth Orienteering Entertainment


Asda Bag Pack

Renwick House Piano

Educational Visit

New President

Presentation to Eddy

Morpeth Fair Day

No Strings Attached

Turner's Trees

Youth Orienteering Entertainment

Morpeth Lions come to the aid of National Orienteering Championships

Earlier this year Morpeth Lion Adrian Barnes came to the Club with a dilemma.  Adrian was to be responsible for helping to organise the Youth Home International Match hosted by his club Newcastle and Tyneside Orienteers on behalf of the English Orienteering Association. This was to take place in Northumberland.  A total of 96 youngsters aged between 13 and 18 and their coaches from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland were to converge on Morpeth for a weekend in October.  The two orienteering courses were fixed but accommodation, food and entertainment needed to be arranged.  Could the Lions help?

Well of course they could.  Morpeth Lion and Youth Officer Les Brindley and Adrian set about the task.  Overnight accommodation for the Friday and Saturday was provided by Active Northumberland in the Morpeth Leisure Centre.  St Georges URC Church was the venue for the evening meal and disco.  Sarah Taylor and her staff from the Peppermint Tearoom prepared and served an evening meal.  The teenagers lived up to their reputation of eating plates full of food after their day of activity on Northumberland’s Simonside hills.  Several Lions were on hand to set out the Church hall and clear up after the meal.  Some even stayed for the disco.

The next day athletes departed for a relay event near Slaley south of Hexham.  England won both the individual and team prizes but Scotland pushed them hard all the way.  Morpeth Mayor Cllr Andrew Tebbutt was on hand to welcome the athletes and present the individual prizes on the Saturday evening.  In addition everyone received a memento mug supplied by NE Print and Design of Manchester Street, Morpeth.

Feedback from coaches and athletes was that they thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and, in particular, the welcome they received in Morpeth.


Ravenous athletes at the evening meal.

Mayor Andrew Tebutt present the overall individual prize to England male and female captains 

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At what has become an annual fixture, 80 guests recently sat down to enjoy the Morpeth Lions Club Chinese Charity Banquet at the Mulan Restaurant in Morpeth.

This event originally started just after the 2008 floods that had affected the then recently opened restaurant.  In a gesture of sympathy for all those more drastically affected the owner Kevin Liu allowed two fundraising banquets to take place; these raised over £2000. 

Over the years the Lions Club has been able to hold banquets to raise funds for its many Christmas activities and the Lion President’s designated charity. This year Lion President, Chris Offord, has chosen The Sick Children’s Trust as his charity. Such is the popularity of the evenings that organisers Lions Les Sage and David Armstrong had little difficulty in selling the tickets this year.

During the evening, Caroline O’Doherty the North East fundraiser for The Sick Children’s Trust explained how the charity is able to provide ‘home from home’ accommodation and facilities for the parents and siblings whose seriously ill children have sometimes extended stays in hospital.  Caroline told of the lady who gave birth to triplets all weighing less than two pounds and in their early days were critically ill.  The support and kindness shown when they were able to stay in Crawford House, Newcastle was of incalculable importance and the family still visit the facility to say thank you and help with fundraising.  The triplet girls are firm favourites with the staff.  The charity needs to raise over £100,000 to upgrade the two Newcastle houses and is grateful for the support they receive from local individuals and organisations. If you would like to find out more about the Trust, please telephone 0191 2825818.

Lion President Chris Offord said ‘The Morpeth Lions Club thanks everyone who has been involved in this wonderful evening - our guests for supporting us, Mulan and its staff for the excellent food and service, all the businesses who so generously donated raffle prizes and Lions Les and David for organising the event.  I am delighted to be able to present a cheque for £750 to the Sick Children’s Trust from this evening’s event.’

Such is the banquet’s popularity that guests have already begun to reserve places for next year.


PHOTOs:  (L-R)

Lion Chris Offord, Caroline O’Doherty (SCT) and Gail Stoney (SCT), House Manager of Crawford House at the RVI.

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Asda Bag Pack

Generous shoppers at Asda, Ashington recently swelled the coffers of Morpeth Lions Club by £376.37 when Club members and wives offered to pack their shopping bags over a four hour period.

The store initially became involved with the Lions Club by collecting toys from their customers at Christmas.  In turn the Lions Club ensured the gifts were distributed to needy children throughout Northumberland by the County Council’s Children’s Support Team.

The organising Lion on the day was Vice-President Margaret Trewick who said ‘Our Club is extremely grateful to the Management and staff of Asda for allowing us to raise funds in this way.  We would also like to pay tribute to their generous customers who must have felt some trepidation when confronted by a group of men offering to pack their shopping bags.  Presumably they must be well trained as there were no complaints!’

Photo: (L-R) Morpeth Lions Club members John Gray, Richard Nash & Harry Cone prepare to bag pack at Asda, Ashington.

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Renwick House Piano

When Morpeth Lion Geoff Bushell heard that the residents of Renwick House were lacking some music in their lives he quickly found an answer. 

The problem was that whilst the residents lounge boasted a fine piano, it had not been used for some years and was sorely in need of tuning.

It fell to piano tuner Laurence Heppell to come to the rescue and hopefully the residents will soon be ‘tickling the ivories’ for the pleasure of all.  Lion President Chris Offord said ‘We know many of the Renwick House residents enjoy our annual ‘Meet the Lions event’ in November.  Hopefully by having the piano restored they will think of us also during the year.’

There is another small problem.  Whilst some residents can play the piano, their fingers are not as nimble as in the past and they would love someone to come in and play for them occasionally.  Any offers?  If you can help out, please contact Lion Geoff on 01670 504904.

Photo: (L-R) Lion Simon Pringle, residents Audrey Easton & Joe Cassie, Laurence Heppell and Lion President Chris Offord.

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Educational Visit 2016

For many years Morpeth Lions Club has sought out means of adding to the general education of its members.  These Educational Visits have included visiting sites of historic interest, the Falkirk Wheel, Lead mines in Weardale, the Royal Armoury, Leeds and the Bowes Museum to name but a few.

There is, however, a common link due to the fact that these visits can be of some distance and involves hiring a mini bus.  That link is the brewing or tasting of beer.  Morpeth members acknowledge that they are getting no younger and because of this, the retention of details relating to the brewing of beer or the distilling of whisky needs to be replenished on an annual basis.

This year Lion Harry Cone arranged a visit to Belhaven Breweries in Dunbar where our excellent guide gave a very informative tour of the Brewery including its history and methods of brewing. Until 1992 the Brewery was in the hands of one family, however it is now part of the Greene King group of breweries and its products are exported to many countries throughout the world. It believes it is the oldest brewery in the UK and will be celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2019. The date is already in the Lions diary- particularly as the tastings sampled at the end of the tour met with everyone’s approval!

To cater for more serious educational needs, there followed a visit the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune Airfield.  For many attending this was their first visit and probably will not be the last.  Currently there is an excellent display area containing the first British Airways Concorde.  Visitors are allowed to enter the plane and many were amazed at how cramped it seemed compared to modern aircraft; although the legroom was very adequate.  On the plus side there was first class catering available and it only took slightly over 3 hours to cross the Atlantic.

There are also displays of fighter and civil aircraft with plenty of interactive areas to keep the young and certainly the not-so-young visitors happy.  The 4 hours spent there certainly passed quickly.

Harry, however, never loses sight of the liquid aspects of education and near Berwick was a well- stocked ale public house that served good food. 

Arriving back in Morpeth some 13 hours after leaving, the Lions expressed their gratitude to Harry for organising the day and to Lion Les Sage our ever reliable driver.


PHOTOs:- Morpeth Lions Club members at Belhaven Breweries and the National Museum of Flight.


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New Pesident

Readers might be forgiven for experiencing a sense of déjà vu when reading that Morpeth Lions Club started a fresh year on July 1st with a new President, Chris Offord.  Chris has been a member for over 29 years and took over from Ian Brown.  

Chris is certainly up to the challenge following two previous successful years as President, from 2006-7 and from 2010-11 and is looking forward to the following year as the Club’s leader.  He will be ably assisted by Margaret Trewick who was elected Vice President.  Geoff Bushell remains as Club Treasurer  and Ian Mills as Secretary.

On being installed as President, Chris paid warm tribute to Ian Brown’s year in office.  He said ‘Ian will be a hard act to follow having completed a very full year.  He will not escape entirely as he is very much involved in the forthcoming District Convention in November that will be hosted by our Club.’

As for the venue, the Club continues to meet at 8pm on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the Conservative Club, Newgate Street, Morpeth.  The next meeting, following a short Summer break, will be on August 23rd.

Last year, under the Presidency of Ian Brown, the Club was able to distribute over £19000 to over 80 organisations – mostly local.  He explained ‘This was possible by organising facilitating events such as Dickens of a Draw and the LionSwim; where other groups are able to fund raise for themselves.

From other fundraising events we have assisted a number of youth organisations and helped look after some of the needs of children with a variety of handicaps or disadvantages.

At the opposite end of the age range we enable Morpeth Partially Sighted Group to attend their monthly meetings and at Christmas over 200 parcels of food were organised and distributed; whilst our ‘Meet the Lions’ afternoon provides tea and entertainment for up to 180 local elderly and infirm.

Major donations of £1000 each were presented to Morpeth’s Special Olympics minibus Appeal and the RVI’s Bubble Foundation. 

At an international level, donations have been made to help blind people in India; handicapped children attend the Special Olympics and WaterAid in the Third World.  The Club also initiated a UK appeal to help limbless children caught up in the Syrian war crisis obtain prosthetics.

Our voluntary service would not, however, have been possible without the generosity of the people of Morpeth, the cooperation of local businesses plus the understanding and assistance of our wives and partners.  Fundraising is never easy however we believe that the emphasis should be on the FUN part of the word.  We welcome new members and hope that anyone interested in finding out more about Morpeth Lions will contact Simon Pringle on 01670 513169.’

PHOTO:-  Lion Ian Brown hands over the President’s Chain of Office to Lion Chris Offord.

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Presentation to Eddy

At the closing meeting Morpeth Lions Club’s 2015-16 year one of its members received double recognition of his involvement with the Club.

Outgoing President Ian Brown’s final act was to present Lion Eddy Gebhard with an appreciated bottle in recognition of over 10 years service as Tailtwister.  This important position involves ensuring that all members behave correctly at meetings…or face a fine (collected by Eddy).  Many an ill -advised comment usually humourously expressed sees change rattling in the Lion collecting mascot; whilst woe betide the member who forgets his or her Lions pin or apparel!  Lions members are, however, a forgiving lot and they all applauded Eddy for his service over the years as he hands over to fellow Hepscott resident, Harry Cone.

Soon after the presentation it was the turn of incoming Lion President, Chris Offord,- in his first official act- to call Eddy to the front of the meeting.  The Morpeth Club has been in existence for 44 years and retired Morpeth butcher Eddy has given service to our community for 40 of those years.  This makes him the longest serving member of the Club.  In that time he has been at the forefront of many of the Club activities and it gave Chris great pleasure to present the 40 year chevrons that Eddy is now entitled to wear with his Lions pin.

Well done Eddy, Morpeth Lions salute you and wish you continuing service with us for many more years.

Morpeth Lions Club welcomes new members and hope that anyone interested in finding out more about the club will contact Simon Pringle on 01670 513169.

PHOTOs:  Eddy Gebhard receives a gift commemorating his service as Tailtwister from Immediate Past President Ian Brown. Eddy receives his 40 year chevron from Lion President Chris Offord.

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Morpeth Fair Day

The tradition that Morpeth Lions bring out the barrow on Morpeth Fair Day continued this year.  A wheelbarrow loaded with groceries and a little alcohol is “raffled” on the day. The Lions promise to deliver the wheelbarrow and its contents to the prize winner’s homes.  Many of those participating came from diverse parts of the country; nevertheless we were able to confirm that the Club would be delighted to honour the promise as Club members are often visiting other areas.  We would have been in difficulty regarding one visitor from Australia but luckily (for us) she was unsuccessful.  As it happened, the delivery was much more local as the lucky winner came from Ashington.

Whilst the weather could have been better, £606.10 was raised to help local charities.  In addition Alison Starkey and friends provided a face painting service in the Lions tent that had queues throughout the day.  Alison has donated her profits to the Northumbrian Gathering that celebrates the 50th anniversary next year.

Lions Mike Nicholson and John Gray who organised the barrow event said ‘We are grateful to everyone who visited our stall and the wheelbarrow and know that their contributions will be appreciated by the numerous local organisations that we support.  Thank you also to Morpeth Chamber of Trade whose hard work organising Fair Day has brought so much benefit and enjoyment to the town.’

Photos:  Morpeth Lions with their wheelbarrow.

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No Strings Attached

Morpeth Lions have been going all musical of late.  Young Morpeth musician, Deborah Snowdon is looking to purchasing a pedal harp in order to develop her music career.

By applying to grants, bursaries, busking, playing at events, putting on concerts and donations Deborah had managed to raise £4,000 towards the purchase of a Pedal Harp, in order to allow her to progress with her studies to be a professional musician.  Deborah lives and went to school in Morpeth and is now in her first year, reading Music at The University of Edinburgh.

Her main instruments for performance are harp and piano. She has been playing on a 34 string lever harp, but to develop further as a musician and performer, she needs to progress onto a pedal harp with 47 strings, which will allow her to perform more virtuosic classical music.  Classical music requires a lot of lever changes throughout the music, which makes it impossible to keep the music fluent on a lever harp and the string range is not suitable for a lot of demanding music.  Pedal harps have 7 pedals and this mechanism allows accidentals to be played without the harpist being required to stop playing. Instead they can press one of the 7 pedals while continuously playing with both hands and they also allow a performance of a much wider variety of music.

The price of a pedal harp is around £10,000.  Several Lions attended a fund raising concert and, whilst there, Morpeth Lion Vice President Margaret Trewick presented Deborah with a cheque for £250.  In total the concert raised a total of £1,100 towards the pedal harp. Deborah has promised to play for a Morpeth Lions event in the future. 

Continuing the musical theme, Morpeth Lions help to raise money each year for the Morpeth Gathering, which is a weekend of music, dance, the arts and local culture.  On the Saturday the Lions Street Collection raised £673 for the Gathering.  2017 will be the 50th year of the event and much needs to be done in advance to ensure this is a success.  In view of this Morpeth Lions topped the collection up to £1,000 and Kim Bibby-Wilson of the Gathering Committee was delighted to receive a cheque for this amount at a recent Club meeting.  Kim stressed that finance is always difficult but the generosity of the Lions will help them to plan ahead with more confidence.


Lion VP Margaret Trewick presents a cheque to Deborah Snowdon

Kim Bibby-Wilson receiving a cheque from Lion President Ian Brown (right) with Lion Simon Pringle looking on.

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Turner's trees

A new interpretative board has been unveiled at Carlisle Park in Morpeth which talks about the trees on a stunning woodland bank, and their relationship to a garden that was inspired by William Turner – the father of English Botany.  William Turner, known as the father of English Botany, was the first to scientifically describe plants and write about them in English, at a time when other botanical works were written in Latin.

Morpeth Lions Club has been helping to enhance the woodland bank in the town’s picturesque park and garden since planting 40 trees there in 2012 to commemorate its 40th anniversary.  The trees on the bank have been given name tags, and they include Quince, Medlar, Almond and the Strawberry tree – which were all featured in William Turner's 'Herbal' - the pioneering work which this famous son of Morpeth wrote between 1551 and 1568.

 Members of the Lions Club have cared for the trees, carried out monthly weeding and replaced those that didn’t thrive. They have added further species including Spindle, which was given its English name by Turner, as well as Crab Apple, Pear, Guelder Rose and Rowan.  The club has also planted red currant and raspberry bushes, as well as 400 native daffodils in the William Turner Garden.

The new interpretative panel was unveiled this week by Cllr Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services at Northumberland County Council.  He said:  “It's a great boost for the William Turner Garden and Carlisle Park to have the Lions Club doing all of this valuable work.  It is a brilliant way to tell another aspect of the story of William Turner, and adds new interest for the thousands of visitors who come to the park each year.”

 Morpeth Lions Club Vice President, Chris Offord, said:  “We are pleased to be able to launch the interpretative panel in time for the busy Easter period.  We could not have achieved this without the support and help of the County Council team at Carlisle Park and we look forward to continuing our work with them in future years.”


Northumberland County Councillor Ian Swithenbank with (L-R) Lions Chris Offord, Les Brindley and Ian Mills with Ann Brindley.

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