The Cambridge Lions are full steam ahead under their new president Steph Dunsmore.
The third-year Lion started her role on July 1 as the organisation’s fifth female president, and as a slightly younger-than-average Lion at the age of 51.
It’s a good trend for the future of the organisation, with outgoing president Jim Goddin finishing his tenure at 42.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the group, because it’s a great group, and hopefully it will be another good year for us, because it’s a really busy club,” Steph said at Thursday’s Lions Shed open morning.
“We’re looking forward to a change with old and new, new ideas, encouraging new people to join, men, women, younger age. We’re not fussy!”
The club has seen several younger people join in recent years, even a few teenagers and twenty-somethings. It’s the largest Lions branch in the country with 83 members, soon to be 89, but it still needs new blood to keep it that way – with most members being in their 60s and 70s.
“It’s nice to see somebody nice and young coming in,” Cambridge Lion Gayle Hart said of Steph’s induction as president.
Former president Betty Busst added, “It’s good because she’s bringing in new ideas and things to the club, which we need. It’s the younger generation, and you need different ideas, things go on.”
Betty was the first ever female member of the Cambridge Lions when she joined in 1999.
“It was 63 men and me,” she said, admitting it was quite daunting to walk into a room full of men.
“Some of them wanted me there and some didn’t!” she laughed. “I just quietly made my way in.”
Becoming the club’s first female president in 2002 was a push even further into unchartered territory, but one she was glad she did.
“We’ve got about 38 women members now, the highest number of female members ever,” she said.
She was proud to see Steph make it as female president number five, and with Jan Howie waiting in the wings to become number six next year. After Betty went Robyn Coutts as the second female president, Gayle Riddle third and Faye Gohns fourth.
Steph said Betty was a “star” and “paved the way” for women in the organisation. She wasn’t too concerned with being recognised for her new role, but instead pointed out what all the Lions are doing for Cambridge.
“I think people aren’t really aware of everything we do for the community,” she said. “We all dedicate an extraordinary amount of hours to the club, because we’re all volunteers.”
Through their fundraising work, which includes the Lions Shed op shop on Vogel St, the monthly Trash n Treasure Market and the Lions food caravan, each year the club puts about $160,000 back into the community, helping many dozens of Cambridge projects and people.
“Cambridge is a really generous community, and it’s because of that that we can do what we do,” said Steph. “But we’re actively looking for new members so we can continue that well into the future.”
She said she was humbled to be the club’s 58th president, and despite also being a full-time real estate agent, saw it as a good challenge for the year. “Like anything you just find the time, we all do, and just do what you can.”