The pride of Lions

Lions Clubs Peninsula: Group photo of Lions Club Members from various clubs on the Mornington Peninsula.

By Melissa Walsh   Photos Gary Sissons

It has been 100 years since the Lions Club began in the United States, and this year Australia celebrates 70 years of service to the organisation that now has 1.4 million members worldwide.

Founded by Melvin Jones in Chicago on June 7 1917, Lions have given humanitarian support to many local and international projects to help find cures for cancer, blindness, prostate cancer, measles, diabetes and childhood cancer. Lions are also involved in environmental projects to keep the planet safe for future generations.

With Lions clubs in nearly every township on the Mornington Peninsula, there are hundreds of men and women who have put in the hard yards for the last seven decades.

Lions Clubs Peninsula: L-R Dennis Cleary, John Milledge and Colin Blythe.

One such member is Jack Milledge of Rosebud, who has served 46 continuous years with the Lions Club. At the ripe old age of 88, Jack remains involved with the organisation that has become a big part of his life.

“I was invited to join the Lions Club of Dromana by Keith Evans, the then owner of the Miami Caravan Park in Safety Beach in 1971,” said Jack.

“At that stage they didn’t have a club in Rosebud but we started to form one and by the end of the following year, were successful. It was a very proud moment for me and I was elected to the office of charter president of the Lions Club of Rosebud.”

For the next four decades, Jack and his family enjoyed the fellowship with local community people and the satisfaction of helping others in need.

“My late wife, Joyce, and I have loved being part of the Lions Club which offers such camaraderie and companionship along with the ability to help people in all aspects of the community,” said Jack, of the organisation that became a great part of his family’s life. “I was granted life membership in 1991 and I am a recipient of a Melvin Jones Fellow which has been another proud moment. I have enjoyed every moment of membership and have had the pleasure to be with other members on working bees, community and district projects, club meetings and enjoyed the overall feeling when you know you have made a difference to someone’s life.”

Colin Blythe, current president of the Lions Club, could not agree more. Along with his wife, Nina, the couple dedicate their spare time and energy to peninsula projects through the organisation.

“I have been involved with the Lions Club for 20 years,” said Colin. “I love the camaraderie of it and it’s great to get in and truly make a difference in the community and surrounding area. We are involved in projects like junior public speaking, youth of the year, school quiz, supporting local sporting clubs, the Men’s Shed, Food For All, Australia Day Celebrations, the Rosebud Kite Festival, op shops, farmers markets, boat raffles and the good old sausage sizzles.”

Some of the Lions’ major achievements include the long running Rye boat raffle, which has been going for 45 years and raises about $50,000 per year. The Dromana Lions Op Shop has also given out in exces of $455,000 over the last five years to local community groups.

“As well as that, McCrae Lions have brought to life the McCrae lighthouse with a brilliant display of colours to support charities such as Breast Cancer day, autism and family violence. This display highlights the color which the charity represents and brings awareness to the local community. A Christmas display of lights enhances the foreshore for our holiday makers over the Christmas period,” he said.

It doesn’t matter what age you are. The Lions Club has members as young as 18 and up to 88, all wanting to be involved and make the community a better place to live.

Jack and Colin are just a couple of the members who continue to make a difference.

“If you are reading this why not think of becoming one of us to enjoy all that our organisation has to give in the good company and fun that does exist. Please join us to make a difference,” said Jack.

For further details phone Colin Blythe on 0448 871 295 or

First published in Peninsula Essence – October 2017