Rod’s pride at his time in Tod

A new home for Todmorden Lions stalwart Rod
A new home for Todmorden Lions stalwart Rod

Sometimes, it really is the end of an era.

When one of the founders of Todmorden Lions Club, Rod Wainwright, leaves for his new home in Andover, Hampshire, near to his daughter, he will leave a real gap, though he assures us he will be making return visits to see his many friends here.

Rod, several times Lions’ president, including that founding year 36 years ago, also had a lengthy teaching career in Todmorden.

Moving up from Norfolk, where he had been a Lions club member, the Wakefield-bred Huddersfield Town supporter was a deputy headteacher for three years at Shade School from 1976, and then headteacher at Robinwood School for another 11, finishing his teaching career with six years at Mixenden.

Rod says he saw the worth Lions could be to their community, both to sections of it and to individuals.

“We’ve always given the public value for money and entertained them in various ways and sorted things out.

“There are a lot of needs to the community and individuals and we have helped schools, the health centre, the theatre and more,” he said.

In terms of entertainment, many remember the Family Fun Days, Bouquets of the Week, the Lions’ Donkey Derby, the ongoing Duck Race and who could forget the famous Pram Race - all captured the imagination.

From appeals following the floods of the last 15 years to Lions raising money to buy promising young GB table tennis star Megan Shackleton a sports wheelchair, Lions’ impact is ongoing.

Rod says: “The biggest thing was setting up the Talking Newspaper for Todmorden, when I was president in 1993-94.

“It had its origins with Lions. The first one came out in November 1993 and I was involved for 18 years after that.

“It is still going strong and valued by people who have moved away from the town,” he said.

Lions’ involvement with helping those who have lost their sight goes back to America in 1925 when American author, political activist, and lecturer Helen Keller addressed that year’s Lions International Convention.

Rod is keen to promote that Lions are a worldwide movement whose members in each country are often first on the scene when aid is needed and remain there after many other agencies have gone. One of his proudest moments was when Lions from all over the world - including “Rod From Tod” as many Lions know him - watched for hours at the colourful, carnival-like parade of Lions worldwide attending the International convention in 1998, so far the only time it has been held in England.

“I feel vaguely people know it is an international movement but our club here has concentrated on Todmorden,” he said.

The international aspect of Lions - local people everywhere who help their communities and usually providing plenty of fun and friendship on the way - hope people will look into more.

Rod, also a keen member of Todmorden Golf Club, will miss Todmorden but intends to make visits back.

“I shall miss the geography of the place and the scenery, I will obviously miss the Lions, and I have been at Todmorden Golf Club for more than 20 years,” he said.

Meanwhile Lions are getting ready for the 2015 Duck Race.

It’s on Sunday, May 10, at 2pm from Stansfield Road, and ducks are on sale now.