To be the global leader in community and humanitarian service
To empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet
humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote
International understanding through Lions Clubs
Chartered under the jurisdiction of
The International Association of Lions Clubs
OF THE BRITISH ISLES
Her Royal Highness
The Countess of Wessex GCVO
who became Patron of the Lions Clubs
of the British Isles in 2004
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service organisation
with 46,000 clubs and more than 1.4 million members working with
their local communities in over 200 countries.
Its founding is credited to the initiative of Chicago businessman,
Melvin Jones. He envisaged a new type of service-centred club where
members would put their talents to work to improve their communities.
The Association of Lions Clubs was formed at a meeting on 7 June
1917 in Chicago. The desire to serve others was compelling and on
12 March 1920, the first club was established outside the US in
Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Expansion to China occurred in 1926,
followed by the first Lions Club in Mexico a year later.
By the 1940s, Lions Clubs were established across North America,
South America and Asia.
The story of the arrival of Lions Clubs in Europe involves a 29-year
old man from Stockholm, Torgny Lange, who had a scholarship to
study journalism in New York.
Invited to attend the 1946 Lions International Convention in
Philadelphia as a guest, Lange met Melvin Jones and learned that the
two men shared the same birthday. Such congeniality led to Lange
promising to start a Lions club in Sweden.
It took two years before the first European club was founded in
Stockholm on 24 March 1948, with the next established in Geneva
three weeks later on 16 April.
After Canadian Lions provided invaluable support for British children
orphaned in the Second World War, the then Queen Elizabeth sent
her equerry Colonel Edward Wyndham (later Lord Leconfield) to
convey her thanks.
He was so impressed that the Windsor Lions Club agreed to sponsor
the first London club, with Lord Leconfield becoming its founding
Charter President in 1950.
Today, HRH The Countess of Wessex is a member of the Wokingham
Lions Club and Royal Patron of the Lions Clubs of the British Isles.
In 1955, Dublin became the first Lions Club started in Ireland,
being co-sponsored by the London Club and the Capitol Hill Club
That’s the question posed
in a DVD produced by the
University of Surrey which
traces the history of Lions in
our Multiple District from its
beginnings in 1950.
Superbly narrated by actress Penelope Keith
(pictured) who gave her services
voluntarily, the DVD touches on the
origins of the Lions movement in
1917 when Melvin Jones set up
the first Club in Chicago having
observed that businessmen (and it
was only men in those days of
course) could use their drive, initiative and talents to
help others less fortunate, thus giving birth to the
principles of Lions which survive to this day across
In her voiceover Miss Keith outlines
the coming of Lions to what was to
become Multiple District 105.
“It wasn’t until after the Second World
War that Lions reached our shores.
During the war, Canadian servicemen
posted to London were appalled by the
conditions the children of the Blitz were living in. Not only
were their fathers fighting overseas, and their mothers
working in factories, but the children had to deal with
poor food, few clothes,
constant danger and
many of their homes
being destroyed around
“Through the Lions
Clubs in Canada the
servicemen raised funds
to help, and were expecting the Lions Clubs in England to
distribute them. Unfortunately, there was a small problem
- there weren’t any!
“So instead The Queen Mother, at that time
Queen Elizabeth - who was Patron of the Church
of England Children’s Society, arranged for the
Society to distribute the funds on behalf of the
The story goes on to record how after the
war Queen Elizabeth was so grateful to the
Canadian Lions that she sent her equerry,
Colonel Edward Wyndham (later Lord Leconfield) to
Canada to thank them for their help. During his visit
he was invited to Chicago to visit the Headquarters of
Lions Clubs International and to see what Lions was
really all about.
“He was so impressed by what he saw that soon after he
returned to England he set up the first Lions Club in the
British Isles and Ireland in 1950 now known as the London
Grainy black and white footage of the time shows the
venue for the very first meetings of this prestigious new
Club, the Criterion Restaurant above the Lillywhite’s
building in Piccadilly Circus in London’s West End.
Tribute is paid in the film to
Helen Keller, ‘an inspirational
author, political activist and
lecturer who had become blind
and deaf at the age of 19 months
through illness’ and recounts
how she addressed the 1925
Lions International Convention
where she issued her famous
challenge to Lions worldwide to ‘become Knights of the
Blind in the Crusade against Darkness.’
The film goes on to record the many achievements of
the Lions of the British Isles, including their work, in
the spirit of Helen Keller, in alleviating preventable
blindness, fundraising in the aftermath of the terrible
Asian Tsunami, work in Bosnia/Hergovina to save
the lives of children and babies,
Message in a Bottle, Special Olympics,
MedicAlert and the multitude of
local Club activities such as fun days
out for needy and disabled people,
fireworks and care for the elderly.
blic Performances, Broadcasting, Hiring or Rental of this recording is prohibited.
Introduced and narrated by Penelope Keith
PAL DVD Audio: StereoRunning Time: 16 mins 27 seconds
Produced by University of Surrey Television forMD105 Marketing & PR CommitteeLions Clubs British Isles
Who are the Lions?
The world is a very different place from that where Lions Clubs
International first served local communities a hundred years ago.
Yet, the desire of Lions members to serve others and help meet the
needs of society are much the same.
One major change is the ease with which the efforts of Lions
members can be combined internationally. When we come together
to focus on specific challenges facing humanity, Lions Clubs are able
to make a phenomenal difference.
By 2021, Lions Clubs International aims to triple its humanitarian
impact in five key areas to have a positive effect on 200 million people
every year. The Lions Clubs Global Service Framework comprises
national and international projects alongside more focused and
targeted efforts within local communities.
Contributes towards over 5 million deaths annually – and this
number is rising. Lions Clubs support awareness and action projects.
Lions Clubs are tackling environmental challenges to ensure that
local communities are healthy and sustainable.
Nearly one billion people are affected by hunger every day. Lions
Clubs address the needs of those who are vulnerable in society as
well as food security issues caused by humanitarian crises.
One child is diagnosed with Paediatric Cancer every two minutes.
Lions Clubs are supporting families, and funding life-saving treatments.
Vision has been a priority for Lions Clubs for nearly a hundred
years. We work to improve eye health and eye care for hundreds of
millions of people.
To provide the youth of the world with an
opportunity for development and contribution,
individually and collectively, as responsible members
of the local, national and international community.
Develop skills as a project organizer, time manager
and team leader.
Learn how teamwork, cooperation and collaboration
can bring exciting changes to your community and
Make friends and feel the rewards of community
Coach Jim Graver started the Leo ball rolling in 1957
and chances are that ball was a baseball. Graver was
the baseball coach of the Abington High School in
Pennsylvania, USA and an active member of the
Glenside Lions Club. With help from his fellow Lion,
William Ernst, the first Leo club was charted on
December 5, 1957.
As the world's first Leo Club, the Abington High
School Leo Club created the Leo acronym –
Leadership, Equality, Opportunity – and chose
their school colours, maroon and gold to serve as the
Leo Club colours. Later, Equality was changed to
In October 1967, the Board of Directors of Lions
Clubs International adopted the Leo Club Programme
as an official programme of the association.
The Leo Club Programme has continued to grow
within the last 50 years. Leos now constitute an
international network of over 6,500 clubs in over
140 countries. Community service remains the
cornerstone of the programme, fostering a lifetime
commitment to helping others. Like their Lion