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Stalwart celebrates half-century in Lions

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012
Alex Grieve
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ
PROUD ASSOCIATION: Alex Grieve with the medals he ahs been awarded during his 50 years in the Timaru Suburban Lions Club.

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Alex Grieve has been a Lion for 50 years and jokes that he cannot give up now because he has been made a life member.

The former Timaru harbourmaster was invited to help form the first Lions Club in Timaru in 1962.

Lions was originally established in Chicago in 1917 "for the betterment of community", starting in New Zealand in 1955 with its first club in Auckland. Membership is by invitation only.

Mr Grieve looks back on his long service and notes the changes over the years. He said people are not giving as generously as they used to but he puts this down to lack of funds.

In the 1960s employers would allow staff to attend a Lions' meeting in the middle of the afternoon without fuss but he doubted that would happen now. It was not until 1976 that women played an equal role, setting up a Lionness Club.

As a member of the Timaru Suburban Lions Club he has been involved in raising money through a telethon with television identity the late Selwyn Toogood for televisions in hospitals and resthomes in South Canterbury, to rebuilding Fiji after a flood.

It was a poignant moment for him in Fiji after the flood in the mid-1970s when a woman expressed her gratitude for her brand new house.

"She was thanking me for her new home and it was only a bit bigger than a garden shed," he said.

Helping the community is the crux of the Lions' philosophy either through fundraising or practical humanitarian service.

"Instant recognition of a need and being able to do something about it is Lions in action."

A television given to the Salvation Army's Bramwell home in Temuka was an example of practical generosity.

When the presentation was made the 17 boys from the home were shivering as it was a cold day so they were taken to a local clothing shop and given a pair of jeans each.

Mr Grieve is still unsure whether the store owner or manager paid for them. "There were more smiles (for the clothing) than the TV."

Mr Grieve has held many offices, including serving as president of the Timaru club in 1966 and as international director of the the International Association in 1974. In recognition of the work Lions does, 1000 trees were planted in Israel in his name. And as district governor he helped form five clubs throughout the region.

He said Lions gives people the ability to serve and work together in a club organisation. Though he no longer holds an office he still attends meetings and speaks to groups on the work Lions does.

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- The Timaru Herald

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