They need another £15,000 and hope to hit their £48,500 target in the summer. They will order the mini bus when nearly there and president Bob Eaves said some members would personally underwrite the balance to ensure they got it.
Bob said the Lions had been saving money for years to replace the bus. They set up a sinking fund that would assist when the time came. He added: “We knew it would happen. This is the third one we have bought.”
Serious fund-raising began two years ago but pressure was stepped up last spring when it became obvious something needed to be done.
“The maintenance items on the bus are becoming an increasingly frequent need and we cannot afford for it to be kept until it finally gives up the ghost. Breaking down miles from anywhere with eight old people and four wheelchair bound people on board would be a nightmare.”
Bob said the support received from the people of Uckfield had been fantastic. “Once we told them what we were raising money for they really got behind us. One of our members David Cole has been co-ordinating, and making, grant applications and is tops at begging letters.
“We re-doubled our usual efforts at fund-raising since it was important that raising money for the bus did not affect all our other projects such as public use defibrillators and individual grants and support of charitable and worthy causes.
“Uckfield got behind us. People such as Margaret House had coffee mornings, the Masons gave us a grant, a lot of groups raised small sums and gave them to us, and we had a large donation from a local benefactor.
“My biggest thanks go to my fellow Lions – most of us are well past our sell by dates, but we have been out in all weathers with the Santa Sleigh, stood for hours at a time selling draw tickets in Waitrose and run the bookshop.
“We have just had a successful curry lunch which raised over £400 and are selling Lions Fun Quiz Books in about 20 shops in the town, promoting a Super Hero Scarecrow competition and are just starting our Super Luxury Easter Egg Draws in about 20 local hostelries.”
The Lions priority is to buy a mini-bus that will give the longest trouble-free service.
Bob said: “Although the present mini-bus is only 14 years old with a low mileage, most of that is in short runs around the locality which doesn’t do it any good. We take it for a long hot run sometimes to blow the cobwebs out and it seems to work. It is also driven by a number of different volunteer drivers and they have varying levels of expertise.”
• Uckfield Lions are looking for new members and if you would like to get involved please contact president Bob Eaves on 01825 764638, go along to a monthly business meeting held at the Alma Arms at 8pm on the second Wednesday of each month or speak to a Lion in the bookshop in Olives Yard.
Bob said: “Part of our success is the fact that as a club we also have a strong ethic of enjoying ourselves. We believe in putting the fun into fund-raising. We also believe in caring for our older and infirmer members. But as a club we need new members to help raise these funds.
“Members do not have to take part in every event – although we have so much fun most of us do – and don’t have to give up all their time. Part of our ethos is family first, work second and Lions third.”
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