Cookstown & Magherafelt Club History

Cookstown & Magherafelt Club History
1978 to 2012

Early in 1978 Robert Walsh was dealing with a business colleague in Coleraine when he was approached about forming a Lions Club in the Cookstown and Magherafelt area. Robert was dealing with Joe Mullan who was a stalwart member of the Coleraine Lions club and so the wheels began to turn. 
Robert on his return to Cookstown discussed the request with his colleague Richard Sharpe and also his friends Roy Nelson, Denis Slaine and Billy McCombe. Contact was also made in Magherafelt with Billy Campbell, Iain McKay, Maurice McLean, Donal O’Shaughnessy, Francis Rocks and Dr. Naresh Chaturvedi.
This small group commenced discussions with the Coleraine club who became our sponsors. Advice and encouragement was generously given by the afore mentioned Joe Mullan assisted by Noel Campbell, Eamon O’Hara and Albert Rodach to mention but a few.
Our team was completed with the addition of Andy O’Kane, Kevin Houston, Gordon Brand, Peter Bryson, Wilfred Nicholl, Seamus Donnelly, Martin Bell, Pat Goddard, Cyril Harkin, Patsy Quinn and Gerard McCelland.
On the 2nd November 1978 our Club received it’s Charter from the then District Governor Bill Maloney of the Limerick Club.
Our first President was Robert Walsh, followed by Billy Campbell and Donal O’Shaughnessy. Fund raising was low profile in those days but community service was a big part of the activities undertaken. The Club continued to develop under the presidency of Roy Nelson, and Richard Sharpe. About this time 1983, the New Years Day ten mile sponsored walk was the big challenge.
During 1983 / 1984 with Maurice McLean in the chair we commenced what is to the time of writing our largest fund raising venture of twenty two thousand pounds for a project named a “Heart Machine” for the Mid-Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt. This project was completed early in 1984 under the  leadership of Denis Slaine.

Cookstown and Magherafelt Lions Club President Outing 1985
The following year saw Andy O’Kane as President but sad to say that some time later his sudden death saddened us all. The following years saw the leadership of the Club in the hands of Jack Dawson, Brian Linney, Paddy McEldowney and Michael McLaughlin. The Club by this time had expanded its activities to events such as Youth Exchange, Youth Award and the Peace Poster Competition. Norman Huston, Oliver Cassidy, Francis Rocks, Malachy Falls and Eugene Corbett all maintained the high standards set by their predecessors.

The latter years of the nineties saw Nigel Paxton, Shaun Magill, George Allen, Paddy McEldowney and Paul FitzGerald steer the Club successfully into the new century. 

The highlight of this period was in 1998 / 99 when Michael McLaughlin was elected District Governor and he was ably assisted by Nigel Paxton and Oliver Cassidy as his secretaries. It is essential to record at this stage that Michael had a most successful year in office and was a great ambassador for Lions in Ireland.
Sam Loughrey and John Mac Cabe continued to widen the scope of the Club with participation in Christmas Carols, having a Burns Night and making plans for a totally new venture The Santa Trail. The following year Brendan Clarke maintained the high profile of the Club with a second Burns Night and a Casino Night with the highlight of the year being a most successful Santa Trail held at the Rural College and Derrynoid Forest in Draperstown.
Now in 2003 / 04 with Francis Rocks, a charter member, again as leader we celebrated the twenty fifth anniversaries and it is nice to record that three other Charter members, Maurice McLean, Iain McKay and Naresh Chaturvedi are also active members. 
The following year saw Shaun Magill at the helm followed by Nigel Paxton in 20005 / 06. Both Presidents continued to develop the Santa Trail. Apart from the Santa experience the other highlight of the trail was seeing the excitement of the children as they enjoyed their toasted marshmallows and barbequed sausages while seeing real reindeers as they followed the trail to Santa’s Cabin.
In 2006 / 07 Paddy Mc Eldowney again lead the Club as President and while all the normal events were successfully carried out it was decided that a greater effort must be put into the recruitment additional members. The Santa Trail was again a success and now that it was well established it was decided that the Club would donate the system and all the hardware associated with the Santa Trail,(estimated value £7,500) to NSPCC and Childline who had been the beneficiaries since its formation  and the Rural College who had kindly allowed the Lions the use of their premises.
As the years in existence of the Lions Club had exceeded the number of members Francis Rocks now lead the team for a two year term between 2007 / 2009. this system proved very successful and Iain McKay followed this plan from 2009 to 2011. These years saw a major development in the Club with the introduction of four new members  including two ladies. Emma McCann had the distinction of being the first lady member followed closely by Victoria Scott. The fund raising was enhanced by the introduction of a static cycle races and bag packing sessions in local supermarkets.

Lions Emma and John McCann recieve a warm welsom from fellow Lions.
On the 20th June 2011 history was made when outgoing president Iain McKay handed over his chain of office to the clubs first female president Lion Emma McCann.
Over the years from Donal O’Shaughnessy in 1982 to the time of writing the Club has been represented, at various times, on the District Cabinet, in various offices by Billy Campbell, Maurice McLean, Michael McLaughlin, Oliver Cassidy, Paddy McEldowney, Sam Loughrey and Nigel Paxton.
Over the years the club have bestowed several “Lions” awards on some of their fellow members and they are as follows:
Melvin Jones Fellowship was awarded to Lions:
  • Michael McLaughlin,
  • Nigel Paxton,
  • Oliver Cassidy,
  • Paddy McEldowney,
  • Sam Loughrey,
  • Francis Rocks and
  • Iain McKay.
Bert Mason Award was recieved by Lions:
  • Maurice McLean and
  • Michael McLaughlin.
In the year 2006 Lion Francis Rocks was awarded the M.B.E by Queen Elizabeth for his work in the local community. 
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