Lions dinner a cause for celebration

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Cutting the cake… Alexandra Lions treasurer and long serving member Allan McDonnell and newest member Alan Pratley join forces to cut the cake at the club’s 50th anniversary dinner on Saturday night.

It was a cause for numerous celebrations at the Alexandra Lions Club dinner on Saturday night, when two secret awards were handed out and a further two anniversaries celebrated.

The Alexandra District Club hosted 76 members, partners and guests, who came to celebrate 100 years of Lions International along with the Alexandra Lions’ 50th anniversary.

But one of the highlights of the night was a surprise award for long-serving member and club treasurer Allan McDonnell, who was recognised for his dedication to humanitarian work with the international Melvin Jones Fellowship.

Alexandra Lions Club spokesman Donald Lamont said the international award was “about as prestigious as you can get”.

“He’s the treasurer from hell – and I mean this as a compliment. He’s pedantic, thorough, he doesn’t miss anything.

“That’s what makes him so attractive – it’s public money we’ve been entrusted with.”

Mr Lamont said the award was kept secret form Mr McDonnell, who was “absolutely speechless” when District Governor Liz Murray presented it to him.

“We now know how to shut him up.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever heard him say ‘I don’t know what to say’.”

Mr McDonnell joined Alexandra Lions in 1975 and stayed with the club for four years until he was transferred to various locations for work. But he remained a Lions member throughout his moves, and eventually returned to the Alexandra club in 1996.

Since then, he has volunteered as treasurer for nine years, according to club secretary Guy Harris.

“I know that he has been right through the ranks. He’s held virtually every office you can hold.”

Mr McDonnell was also presented with a 40-year chevron for his service, along with fellow Lions member Bob McKay, who was also kept in the dark about his award.

Mr Harris said the look on the pair’s faces made all the secrecy worthwhile.

Alexandra Lions have around 50 members who are actively involved in fundraising for the community, but Mr Lamont said more people were always encouraged to join.

“It’s never enough. There’s a fair bit of work to do around the community.

“We’ve always got something going on.”