A chance December, 1960 meeting of local businessman, John Minks, and visiting Sydney Lion, Henning Harders, was to lay the foundation of what was destined to become the first Lions Club in S.A., and the 201st in Australia.
Subsequent to this brief encounter, John was encouraged to pursue the possibility of forming the first Lions Club west of the Victorian border. Enlisting the assistance of Lions International Secretary Jim McLardie, and with the blessing of Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, Lord Mayor, Jack Glover, and International Director, Bill Berge-Phillips, a meeting of possible members was convened on April 26th, 1961, at Adelaide’s Richmond Hotel.
Having been enthused by Jim McLardie’s presentation of the aims and objects of the Lions movement, those in attendance unanimously agreed to meet again on May 31st, with each encouraged to bring another potentially interested member. That gathering of service-minded men readily endorsed the formation of The Lions Club of the City of Adelaide, which took place at a further meeting on June 28th. The meeting also decided that meetings would be convened as luncheons, on the first and third weeks of the month, and that Adelaide City Councillor Bevan Rutt, OBE, and John Minks be elected as Charter President and Secretary, respectively.
The Club’s Charter Presentation Dinner was held at the Myer Apollo Restaurant on September 30th, 1961, with 236 in attendance, including 130 Lions and their Ladies from 19 Eastern State’s Lions Clubs. The Charter was presented to Charter President, Bevan Rutt, OBE, by MD201C District Governor Dr Howard Waters. Bevan was also to become the first District Governor of MD201C. A table flag set was presented to the Club by our sponsor, the Lions Club of Melbourne. Of the 43 Charter Members, only one remains an active member at this time.
A prime responsibility as the first Club in S.A. was to form new Clubs, and within the space of three days, in April, 1962, four new Clubs were formed, including Marion, Burnside, Edwardstown and Adelaide Light. The following year we became the mother Club of the City of Perth and Mount Gambier. Tea Tree Gully, Renmark and Loxton followed in 1964, plus Stirling Districts in 1966 and Kangaroo Island in 1969. Between 1976 and 2000 we formed a further four Clubs, including the City of Adelaide Lioness Club, the first Lioness Club in Australia. Sadly, each of these latter Clubs have returned their Charter, but during their existence provided various worthwhile support to their communities.
Throughout its 57-year history of continuous service to the community, and to those less fortunate, the Club has been involved in an ever-expanding variety of projects and activities. It also takes pride in its reputation for excellence in the organisation of Conventions, special events, meetings and various fund-raising opportunities.
With a current membership numbering in the mid 30s, the Club is very fortunate to include two Honorary Members: The Governor of South Australia, the Lord Mayor of Adelaide and the South Australian Police Commissioner.
However, facing the difficulty of attracting new and possibly younger members in order to maintain its level of community service, the Club took the momentous step of welcoming willing members of the female gender in March 2013 – the first being Lion Petrea Stacey, who has since been joined by other service-minded women.
From this historic decision, it is hoped that the Lions Club of the City of Adelaide will not only maintain, but actually increase, its proud tradition of service to the community and to Lions International projects – “We Serve”.