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Lions Club of Grand Cayman marks golden jubilee

Local News 02 Nov, 2022 Follow News

Lions Club of Grand Cayman marks golden jubilee

Over the last 50 years the Lions Club of Grand Cayman has been visible in the Cayman Islands with their signature yellow vests seen at many an event. This week we pay special homage to this valuable service club as it celebrates it golden 50th anniversary.

1972 – 2022 History notes

The Lions Club of Grand Cayman was chartered in October 1972, from its inception a strong foundation in Lionism was laid by its chartered members (many of whom have passed on into sunset), from which the club has grown from strength to strength and this year we celebrate our 50th year of service to our community.

The Lions movement got its birth from an idea originating from a gentleman by the name of Melvin Jones, a businessman in Chicago. When he joined a networking luncheon club for businessmen in Chicago called the Business Circle, he quickly took the lead in recruiting new members and persuading backsliders to rejoin. But something about the club’s business-only focus didn’t square with Jones’ different, larger vision. That vision grew within the USA and came to the Caribbean in the 1960s and shortly thereafter to Grand Cayman.

Lion Peter Balls was among the group who travelled from Jamaica to form this club. Soon a group of local men were recruited, and the club received its charter on 6 October 1972.  The Charter President was Lion Thomas Hurlston, who often remarked of it been a great honour to be selected/ elected as president. The Club’s first board included Barry Phillips 1st VP, David Arch 2nd VP, Gaston Maloney Secretary, Richard Graham Taylor Treasurer, and Rex Rankine as assistant secretary.

These individuals saw the need and together they have been making a difference as their legacy continues with new recruits and the commitment to service our community.

The club would have its regular meetings in location that were available with the assistance of the membership connections. Even though this group of men were visionaries not one at that time anticipated huge success over the years as the club grew from strength to strength. The club acquired its permanent home in 1990 and is a testament of commitment and diligence of the membership. The current building was to be developed into a fully enclosed and multipurpose facility to serve the community. The Lions Community Centre was envisioned to be completed in phases with the first being a major task to enclose a newly constructed facility which was completed at a cost of $650k within ten (10) months consisting of a main hall, modern changing rooms, restrooms and bar service in the main auditorium.

Over the years the membership always wanted to give back not only to our local community but further to our Lions at regional levels as well. Assisting with Lions signature projects and reaching our international headquarters with donations that benefited to various geographical regions of need through the Caribbean and the world over.

Our local signature projects include but no limited to the following

Lions Community Centre

Lions Eye Clinic

Lions Aquatic Centre

Swim Meets

Sight Conservation

Leos Club of Grand Cayman

Lions Club of Cayman Brac

Lions Club of Tropical Gardens

John Gray High School Alpha Leos Club

Christmas Projects (Joyce Hylton)

Lions Breakfast

Building and repairing of homes

Benzarama

PACCE

Muriel Syms Foundation

Pantry Project

Throughout the last fifty years the club has enjoyed the support of the community which has enabled us to complete such projects as the Lions Eye Clinic, the Lions Pool, the Lions Community Centre, sight screening of school children every year and gift deliveries to people on Christmas Day.

Perhaps for this reason many of the social causes embraced by this famously philanthropic organization have since become household names. 

The club’s ongoing signature project, Sight Conservation, which began shortly after its founding, offers sight screening in schools throughout the Islands. This service reaps untold dividends each time it catches a student whose poor vision might otherwise have gone undetected. Efforts by the Lions’ also led to the building of the Lions Eye Clinic at the George Town Hospital.

We built the Lions Eye Clinic in 1992. As part of our commitment to better eye care in the Cayman Islands we continue to support the Lions Eye Clinic at the Health Services Authority providing much needed equipment and resources.

Other special projects by the club over the years have included helping to build homes for the elderly and needy, as well as sponsoring the Lions Annual Spelling Bee.

Lions Club’s continued efforts to support the development of swimming in the Cayman Islands. Built in 1985, the Lions Aquatic Centre has facilitated access to affordable, competitive-level swim training for a generation of talented young swimmers. Since this past summer it has taken on a very special place in local sporting history, as the early training ground for two of our very own Olympians, the Fraser brothers.

Over the past fifty years, the Lions Club of Grand Cayman has helped motivate its members to become model citizens who make an exemplary contribution to our society. In turn the club has benefited from the strength of individual Lions and from their insight into the needs of the local community.

Beyond our well-known Signature Projects our impact over the past 50 years has been extensive, touching thousands of lives through initiatives and programs aimed at developing our youth, aiding our sick and caring for our elderly and financially challenged through many community projects. 

As we celebrate the amazing journey of the Lions Club of Grand Cayman over the past 50 years, we should also take time to acknowledge the visionaries who came before us; those early believers who stayed the course and dared to overcome countless challenges making Lions one of the most recognized and most trusted NGO’s in the country today. 

The Lions Club of Kingston remarked,” we have watched you grow and prosper with the special affection that a parent has for its offspring. At fifty we reluctantly concede that the child is expected to supersede the parent and establish its own list of accomplishments. Your list is long and significant in its contribution to the welfare of the Cayman Islands.”  Congratulations on this milestone and may you ever continue to make us proud to say “That’s my child”

The Lions District 60B applauds all members of the Lions Club of Grand Cayman, past and present, including our Charter Members, Past Presidents and their Boards of Directors for laying this firm foundation of unselfish service and continuing to build upon it for the enrichment of so many lives in your community.

The Club has sponsored three Lions clubs, Turks, Cayman Brac and Tropical Gardens, along with the Leos Club of Grand Cayman and the John Gray High School Alpha Leos Club.

We continue to bring service and kindness to the Cayman Islands community.

We have been impacted by the global pandemic and as a small measure of kindness the Club delivered COVID-19 care packs to John Gray High School students in 2020. The project was made possible with the donation of 500 masks and four gallons of hand sanitiser from Blue Water Medical.

Annually the Club reaches out to the community for financial assistance. One hundred percent of the funds collected goes back to the community. Thanks to our community donations, we have been able to gather up to 600-plus toys which have been distributed to the less fortunate kids and allow them to have a memorable and wonderful start of the Christmas season.

What started out as an all-Male club in 1972 now has a gender divisified membership with the first two female members being inducted in February 2003 and its first female president being installed in 2009.  Today 40% of club’s active membership is female and many have served at leadership level throughout the years.

Our first 50 years has been astounding and as the 50th President I Michael Havlin extend thanks and sincere gratitude to all past and present members and the entire family of supporters, sponsors and donors for helping us to achieve this wonderful milestone.


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