DIDSBURY - The Didsbury Lions Club will be celebrating 75 years with a charter night celebration on Feb. 1 at the Didsbury Memorial Complex.
The event will feature guest speakers, a catered dinner, and a multimedia experience of classic hits and comedy with motion backgrounds, stills and videos by popular entertainers Richard and Deborah Popovich.
The Didsbury Lions Club was first chartered on Dec. 21, 1944. Apparently, Calgary and Red Deer Lions lent a hand in the original formation but, ultimately, it was the Innisfail Lions Club that became the sponsor, said Van Dam.
"Concerned Didsbury and area citizens had wanted an organized group of volunteers that would help the community," said member Vance Van Dam. "Coincidentally, the Lions' motto is We Serve."
Some of the early members of the club included: Charlie Snyder, Wes Ingel, Ross Young and Ernie Clark.
The first official Didsbury Lions Club meeting was held Feb. 1, 1945.
The first female member of the Lions was Doris Born, who joined in 2009. Born is now the president of the club.
Van Dam said that the club continues to be a prominent group within the town.
"We've always had a pretty good nucleus of members," he said. "Membership has dropped some over the years, with some members passing away and others moving on. It has been difficult to recruit newer members, who are a little younger."
Van Dam said the club continues to try and recruit new and younger members.
“We have some guys that are in their 50s, which is good because many of us are getting into our 60s, 70s and 80s," he said.
"This is a big milestone for us and we thought it prudent to have a celebration like we did 25 years ago with our 50th anniversary.
“We're doing much the same thing: a catered dinner, some guest speakers, and some great entertainment from the Popoviches from Innisfail. They put on a great show of comedy and music."
Some of the projects the Didsbury Lions Club has done over the years include:
• Organizing the Didsbury Soapbox Derby for 14 years.
• Building the original helipad and courtyard at the Didsbury Hospital.
• Moving and reconstructing the train station in the late 1980s under Lion Frank Hawthorne.
• Purchasing and operating the Lions' bus.
• First building playhouses and then gazebos for raffle fundraising, initiated and then coordinated for many years by Lion Ray Lea.
• Hosting a successful dinner and dance fundraiser in early November.
• Conducting an annual food drive in support of the Mountain View Food Bank in September with help from students from Westglen School.