History of Lions Clubs
Back in the early 20th century one of the leading businessmen in Chicago at the time was a 38-year-old Melvin Jones. He belonged to various business groups but felt their meetings were largely ones of self-interest – networking, making contacts, looking for new contracts, making money – and they should look beyond the business community and use their skills and experiences to provide for the betterment of their community in general.
After contacting similar groups around the United States, an organizational meeting was held on June 7, 1917 and the new group took the name of one of the invited groups, the "Association of Lions Clubs". Later in the year a national convention was held in Dallas, Texas and the constitution, bye-laws, objects and a code of ethics were approved. The Association was eventually named Lions Clubs International.
Just three years after our founding, Lions became international when we established the first club in Canada. Mexico followed in 1927, but it was not until 1950s and 1960s international growth accelerated, with new clubs in Europe, Asia and Africa.
In 1925 Helen Keller, a blind and deaf advocate for those with disabilities, addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio and challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Since then, Lions Clubs have worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired.
Lions Clubs International was one of the first non-governmental organisations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter and we have supported the work of the UN ever since.
In the late 1950s, we created the Leo Program to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for personal development through volunteering. There are now over 100,000 Leos and 5,000 Leo clubs in more than 140 countries worldwide.
In 1968 Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) was established to assist Lions with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects (eg national disasters). Through our Foundation, Lions meet the needs of their local and global communities.
Through SightFirst, formed in 1990, Lions are restoring sight and preventing blindness on a global scale. Lions have raised more than $346 million for this initiative which has been used to target the major causes of blindness: cataract, trachoma, river blindness, childhood blindness, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Lions Clubs came to the UK in 1950 when a Club was formed in Tonbridge, Kent. The organisation continued to grow in the UK and Guildford Lions Club was formed in 1967.
Since then Guildford Lions Club has grown and in recent years has usually had 45 – 50 members, male and female.