District Convention Season’ is now over for 2015 and as always I tried to visit as many as possible, unfortunately, as is too often the case, there were too many clashes with up to four taking place over the same weekend.

A number of outstanding Lions were official guests, bringing their own humour, style and knowledge to the respective Districts.  In addition to ID Oya Sebuk, PIDs Patti Hill, Kenneth Persson & Doug Alexander all of whom I have worked with over many years on a range of projects, Immediate Past President Barry Palmer, as well as Past Presidents Jim Ervin & Jimmy Ross, accepted my invitation, on behalf of the respective District Governors, to be the official guest at our Conventions.

Dumfries was the venue for the first Convention of the Lions year, District NE. I opted to let the train take the strain for the trip to and from London. DG Andrew led Convention well, in his own inimitable style.

I had gone to support the DG and the District, as I do most years, and with no part to play was looking forward to meeting the Lions and renewing friendships.

Until, that is, a speaker did not arrive! Would I mind saying a few words, was the request from DG Andrew, anxious to fill the gap in the agenda.

The conversation that followed was:

But…. , Please…., Are you sure? Yes, please! What would you like me to talk about?

‘Just talk about the projects you are involved with’

Not wishing to disappoint DG Andrew, I did: Young Ambassador, YLIS, Lifeskills, the Sewing Machine Project to support widows (1-2-4), micro-finance with the Hand in Hand Foundation, Special Olympics and Medic Alert as well as the development of Lionism in Central & Eastern Europe.

I don’t know how long I spoke for, but DG Andrew seemed relieved to have Convention on track and with all slots filled. As I say when presenting at Leadership Seminars: ‘Be Prepared’.

Fast forward a couple of months and the Conventions came thick and fast. First off, Heidi and I travelled to Waterford, for the Convention of the Lions of 105I, Ireland. This was a Convention in keeping with tradition, warm, witty, friendly ably led, with more than a dash of humour, by DG Pat. Once again the Lions of 105I were celebrating success in the Young Ambassador Competition, with this year’s winner, who we had met at the MD Finals two weeks earlier being Orla Jackman, sponsored by the Carlow Lions Club. Past President Jim Ervin was the official guest and he by turns entertained, motivated and enthused those present during his address.

I was delighted to be asked, together with PIP Jim, to present the trophy for the ” Emerging Lion” to Zone Chairman Lesley Goggins

This is a new recognition introduced by DG Pat and the 1st time awarded. By a nice quirk of fate Lion Lesley will be President of her club next year, the clubs 25th. 25 years ago the Charter President was ‘dad’, now PDG Bill Goggins

A few days after 105I’s Convention was our opportunity to recognise the long relationship between Lions Clubs International and the United Nations. International President Joe Preston was the guest of the MD at the UN Day at the Palace of Westminster and it was good to see him again after his excellent contribution at the 2014 Europa Forum.

And then, it was off to Peterborough for my own District’s Convention. Another good Convention, with DG Kevin in the chair ably orchestrating the business session. Good speakers, a lot of fun and laughter throughout the weekend and again Past President Jim Ervin brought the audience to their feet with his passion, his humour and his ability to get into people’s soul. Thank you PIP Jim.

And finally, to complete the four points of the compass it was to the South we travelled, to the Convention of 105D, in Bournemouth. This was a rare, if not quite unique, occasion for me. When I was International Director I was asked by Lion Mike Hendy, then DG 105A, if I would be his official guest. Having moved some years later to 105D Lion Mike was once again DG and I was honoured and delighted when I was approached on the basis that ‘you did it for me the first time, would you do it the second time?’ Of course! And it was just as much fun the second time round!!

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