Cambridge Lions new president Allan Field is likely to bring a little more international flair to the role than may have been the norm in recent years.
The South African-born import, who officially takes the reins on June 30, is thought to be the first non-Kiwi president of the Cambridge group to take up the role for some time. But while he might be relatively new to the country, Allan is well versed in the activities of service organisations.
He chalked up several years with Rotary in his native Durban, becoming president of Westville Rotary in his final year in the country. At the end of that year, he was awarded the coveted Paul Harris Fellowship Award for services to the community.
When he and his wife Maureen arrived in Cambridge two years ago, it was only a matter of weeks before they had both joined Cambridge Lions.
“For me, it seemed a good fit. The Lions club here appeared to me to be more like the Rotary club I had left behind – I felt it made sense for me to join.”
Allan found his feet locally on the grants committee, helping prioritise requests made to the Lions for financial assistance. More recently, and until his induction as president, he headed that committee, and said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of requests coming through.
“I think that is a situation that will keep on going. There is simply more need out there.”
But at the end of the day, he said, membership to Lions is all about service to the community and where you might feel you can do the most to help.
Allan takes over from previous Cambridge Lions president Fred Hansen, and will now steer the activities of around 85 members, some 60 of whom are active on a regular basis. He is impressed with how successful the Lions Shed and Lions food caravan are in swelling the coffers, particularly given how service organisations like Lions have had to adjust to an environment where privacy issues mean fewer people are directed to them via schools and churches.
“That was how groups like ours often got to hear about people in need, but with the privacy regulations around today, it doesn’t happen that way. We rely on people hearing about us through other individuals, and getting in touch with us themselves. Sometimes it makes it more difficult to reach people in need.”
Keen to get going in his new role, Allan is already pushing through his first project as president. It follows on from a request from a young Cambridge mum who found it inconvenient that there were no baby-changing facilities available in town.
“She and other mothers had to go back to their cars to change their babies, which is clearly not ideal. They shouldn’t have to go to those lengths. I told her we would be more than happy to do something about that if she would help us identify venues willing to set space aside for a changing area.
“She came back with a few places, and we are just waiting to get the financing approved for the purchase of changing tables for those venues. It won’t be long before they will be ready for Cambridge mothers to use.”
That was an example of a project Allan believes is a good fit with a community requirement. He had several other ideas in the melting pot and plans to reveal more on those as his year unfolds.
By Viv Posselt