Newport Pagnell & Olney Lions Club's 

contribution to the Environment



2017 saw the Centennial anniversary of Lions Clubs International and to celebrate the event, Lions Clubs throughout the world were challenged to leave a lasting legacy in their local community.

This was known as our "Centennial Challenge" and 5 distinct fields of service were identified for clubs to contribute their own ideas to

These areas were:

  Halting Diabetes

A Challenge to Lions worldwide to prevent new cases of diabetes and improve the quality of life for those already diagnosed.   This sees many clubs running Diabetic Screenings in their local communities.
   
Engaging our Youth

The aim is to support youth in the community, or inspire the next generation of volunteers by inviting local youth to serve on a club project.   We have been fortunate enough to have worked with Cranfield ATC and a number of students from Ousedale school, particularly on our Dickens of a Christmas event and our Secretary is in ongoing discussion to establish if additional 'links' to the school can be established.
   
Relieving the Hunger

This challenge aims to Improve access to healthy food for vulnerable populations in local communities.
   
Sharing the Vision

Prevention of future cases of unnecessary blindness through vision screenings and educational events is the thrust of this challenge. In addition, giving the gift of sight through projects that benefit those who are blind or living with low vision is also covered.   Our club has, over the past few years, been actively collecting used spectacles for onward distribution to countries in need and have financed a number of 'Eye camps' in India which are aimed at restoring sight and combatting preventable sight loss .
   
Protecting our Environment

Protect and improve the environment to make your community a healthier place to live for everyone.is the aim of this project area and we decided that we could leave a lasting legacy for future generations by adding a number of new trees to the Olney skyline.   We intend doing the same in Newport Pagnell but finding the sites has been a major stumbling block.    Read on to find out what we have achieved.








Our Project takes Root

Having received 'The Challenge', the club had a deep and meaningful discussion on what our response should be.   Whilst we could have sat on our laurals and simply repositioned some of our other activities, we felt that we wanted to do something much more creative and something which would have a lasting benefit for the communities of Newport Pagnell and Olney.

The environment has been getting a battering recently and various initiatives are taking place to protect various aspects of it so we eventually zero'd in on that as being a worthwhile challenge to take on.   Having decided on this route, the questions then began.


What should 'it' be?   

Did we have the necessary skills to do something significant.

What would 'it' cost?

and more importantly, anything in this arena would inevitably be a highly visible project and we all know, these don't always go down well with residents, no matter the benefits they can bring.

Unperturbed, we moved into 'blue sky thinking' (good set of words for an environmental project, don't you think) and after much too-ing and fro-ing, the idea of planting a largish number of trees was mooted.


Cultivating the Initial Idea

Having Lion Martin Ward in our midst, his horticultural experiences as Olney's head Groundsman and links to the Town Council suddenly came into their own.

No sooner had we decided to set aside a budget of £1000 to be shared between the two towns, Martin started discussions with the two councils to find sites for up to 10 English Oaks at each.

Olney proved less problematic than Newport Pagnell where council controlled land is relative sparse.  In Olney, Martins knowledge came to the fore and relatively quickly, a site on the allotment field was established and after a number of plan changes, we had our Olney location, signed, sealed and delivered.

Unfortunately, with little knowledge of Newport Pagnell (the vast majority of our membership is Olney based) we have had to put our plans on the back burner over winter but will begin work to try and repeat our Olney activity as soon as we can.

Branching out

The focus now clear, the site negotiations with Olney Town Council completed, Martin then moved his attention onto procuring the appropriate stock, planting material managing to get 10 semi mature English Oaks plus all the required accessories at a great price and plans were then brought forward for the great 'Planting' day.

The Planting takes Place

So it was that 5 intrepid Lions turned up one morning in November to line out, lay out trees,  dig holes, free root balls, stick trees in the said holes (which actually meant we had inevitably to dig deeper), fill the said holes in, stamp around them, affix the rabbit/squirrel protection, hammer in the supporting stanchion (at a 45 angle - apparently the best way to support fledgling trees according to Martin), secure the ties and finally trim the stanchion for safety reason(a difficult job when it is suspended in mid air at such a silly angle).  

That was one done, and now a further 9 needed this treatment - who said being a Lion was fun!!!!!!

Eventually we (just) beat the rain and within about 4 hours, we had our 10 baby English Oak trees in their new home and hopefully, their resting place for many, many years to come as they mature into beautiful trees which will be visible to anyone in Olney who enjoys the walk around the River Great Ouse and over to Clifton Reynes,

We may not have made a significant improvement to countering Global Warming but we have added 10 new trees to the environment and added to the other 1.999990m which Lions worldwide have planted.  Perhaps 2m new trees will in a microscopic way, make a difference and as the saying goes "from small acorns, tall oaks will grow".