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Pride . . . North Otago Lions Club founding member Florence Hellyer has been recognised for her long›term contribution to the organisation, with a Lloyd Morgan Lions Club Charitable Trust, Friend of the Trust pin. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

Florence Hellyer’s lifetime of helping others has been recognised by her beloved Lions.

Mrs Hellyer was awarded the Lloyd Morgan Lions Club Charitable Trust ‘‘Friend of the Trust’’ pin at the February meeting by past district governor Adrienne Alding, for the work she had done within Lions as well as the support she had given other community groups.

Mrs Hellyer was one of the founding members of the North Otago Lionesses, when the group was first set up in 1987.

The club was officially formed at Brookfield Homestead on May 29, and one of the first club projects was collecting money for Telethon, she said.

In 1992, the Lionesses became the Lions, although remained a female-only club, with 42 members. Mrs Hellyer was president again for a term in 1996-97.

‘‘It was a very happy group, very co-operative. All the members were prepared to get behind, no matter what project we were organising, they would all pull their weight and they were happy.’’

Mrs Hellyer had lost her husband, Allan Pile, in 1977, with four children still at home, and found comfort in her voluntary work.

‘‘It’s always been a big part of my life, and when you lose someone close to you, it sort of fills a wee bit of that gap in.

‘‘They were tremendously supportive, the Lions.’’

The pin came as a surprise to Mrs Hellyer, who said it meant she had been honoured as a member of the Lions worldwide family.

Highlights in her time with the Lions included taking part in the overseas youth exchange programme.

Her daughter Wendy and her son Douglas both were sponsored to travel overseas, and Mrs Hellyer herself enjoyed hosting about 35 participants over the years.

The programme was ‘‘encouraging’’ for young people, she said.

Another project was organising for about 200 young people to visit North Otago from Christchurch, after the earthquakes.

An auction was held at the Oamaru racecourse to raise funds.

‘‘We worked it through schools throughout the Christchurch region — to give them a wee bit more of a wider interest, and to help to install confidence in those children, who were sort of frightened to go elsewhere because of the earthquake.

‘‘We had seven clubs in North Otago at that stage. I organised for one club to take care of each busload, and we shared it around.

‘‘It went on for about two weeks, and a lot of those children had not been past Ashburton, let alone being on farms and things. They thought that was wonderful.’’

Along with her Lions work, Mrs Hellyer was also a member of Age Concern, and had been involved in the running of the North Otago A&P Show for the past 14 or 15 years, as the main convener for under the grandstand — the knitwear, baking, craft and school sections.

The Lions had also helped on the gates at the show.

‘‘That to me is very rewarding. You’re helping fly the Lions flag, letting the general public see that you are still active. Even today, it is a very important procedure, to let the general public know, that there are still Lions clubs in the area, and we’re too happy to help, when need be.’’

She had also helped with the formation of the Palmerston and Waimate women’s Lions groups.

‘‘I find [volunteering] very rewarding. It can be very trying, but you’ve just got to keep an open mind. I just enjoy helping.’’