The first Lions event of 2015 was the DGE Seminar weekend and the opportunity to work with our next generation of leaders. For the first part of the weekend, the ‘Area Training’ our own VDGs were joined by VDGs from Holland and it was good to see everyone relaxed and working together. The ‘Area Training’ element was led by the respective GLT & GMT Coordinators, PCC Geoff Leeder and PCC Elisabeth Haderer, from The Netherlands, who I have worked with on several occasions.

I was really impressed by the enthusiasm and determination shown by ‘our’ VDGs during the MD105 section of the weekend. It was good to see them, individually and collectively, seeking information and challenging the presenters.

In mid-January we travelled to Copenhagen for the 2015 Scandinavian Lions Forum. It was an opportunity to say thank you to the Lions of Scandinavia for their support at the Europa Forum.

We received a very warm welcome from many of our friends in Scandinavia and, as always, it was good to have the chance to meet new Lions and make new friends.

At the ‘Get Together’ we were continually approached by friends old and new, wanting to talk to us, to find out what we are doing and what our plans are. So much so that when I woke the following morning my voice had all but gone (some may say this was a good thing!).

I was surprised, when introduced to Taru Rytkonen, wife of the vice council chair from MD107, Finland, to be greeted with ‘I know you, we’ve met before’.

It transpired that she had been a Leo at the time I was MD105 Leo Chairman and had attended Leo events within our Multiple District. We spent several minutes reminiscing about Leo’s we had known from across Europe. When people say ‘it’s a small world’ we do not always realise just how small!

Back in Birmingham and it was a short trip to MDHQ for the first meeting of the MD Centenary Committee that Council appointed me to Chair.

Wow, what a meeting! MDHQ was packed, we could not get any more into the room. I cannot recall the last Lions meeting I attended that was so positive, so enthusiastic and with so many Lions putting their hands up to take responsibility for different parts of the programme. The ideas that came out, and are still coming out, were impressive.

We have a big programme, a challenging programme but a programme that is achievable and which offers many opportunities to promote Lions, who we are, what we do and what we can achieve.

More will follow in the coming months.

My final January trip was to Warsaw for the Central & eastern European Initiative team meeting. We have come a long way in the 12 months since we first met, with progress being made in many countries and in areas such as diversity and training.

As may be imagined, two of the most difficult areas for any Lion to be working in and trying to promote Lionism are the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. We have two outstanding leaders, DG Marina Barsegova & RC Valentyn Kravchenko, in these countries and it was a pleasure for all of us to see that they were comfortable with each other and ready to discuss areas of common interest, truly, Lionsim unites.

A great start to 2015, a lot of positive activities and thinking.

And Bailey….

I began 2015 with a trip to the Zoo to see a gift my family gave me, a years sponsorship of a Lion – what else! And this is Bailey.

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