By Peter Drysdale
Talk about the best laid plans! Caterham, Oxted & Godstone Lions’ (COGS) highlight of the social calendar is the Charter Anniversary Lunch, and 2023 marked 45 years since they were chartered by Lions Clubs International. A tremendous amount of work went into planning the occasion: the venue (Reigate Manor), the menu, the speakers, the souvenir programme, the table plan, the flowers…and not forgetting the raffle!
The timing was 12:30 for 13:00 on 22 October. However, at around 12.30 the police closed J7 of the M25 after sadly finding a body beside the motorway. The closure caused guests arriving from as far afield as East Grinstead, Maidstone, Bexley and Horley to get stuck in traffic. By 13:00 20 guests had still not arrived, so the start was delayed until 13:30. Guest of honour was East Surrey MP Claire Coutinho, the secretary of state for energy security and net zero, who also arrived late. She was due to speak after the meal but a later engagement was pressing, so instead she spoke first – very briefly!
After that the timetable went further out of the window, but we Brits love a challenge and Lions are no different! The room went with the flow: Lion President Tony Gordon proposed the toast to Lions Clubs International and the District of SE England, and Vice President Lion Bob Knowles proposed the toast to the partners and guests.
So, all in all a rather nerve-wracking event for the master of ceremonies Lion Secretary John Quincey, but everybody had a most enjoyable lunch, (praise to the hotel for still providing an edible meal despite the delay). We met up with old friends, made new friends and looked forward to being of service to the community for many more years.
Earlier this year, the club collaborated with East Grinstead Lions to provide funding for special needs students from St Stephen’s School, South Godstone, to attend Riding for the Disabled in Lingfield. On 5 October, three COGS members were joined by three from East Grinstead Lions to witness a session. The head of inclusion at St Stephen’s, Rebecca Hodges, expressed her thanks for the funds that enabled a group of children of varying ages and needs to benefit from the activity.
In the smart large indoor school, five youngsters, on mounts led by volunteers, were guided through a series of exercises. Despite their personal challenges they were obviously enjoying themselves. A most worthwhile activity.
To find out more about your local Lions club, visit our website or call Lion Tony on 01883 741809. We also have a minibus available for hire – contact Lion David on 01342 893353.