GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: East Ballina Lions Club president Dawn Sword, and club members, accept a NSW Government grant from Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin MLC, to help replace equipment lost in a fire.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: East Ballina Lions Club president Dawn Sword, and club members, accept a NSW Government grant from Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin MLC, to help replace equipment lost in a fire. Graham Broadhead

Lions rise from ashes to serve community

THE East Ballina Lions Club is rising from the ashes and its members are keen to get to work serving the community once again.

Club president, Dawn Sword, said the club has been overwhelmed by donations since a fire on the weekend of April 14 destroyed the shed where they stored all the equipment they use to fundraise for the community, including the well known barbecue trailer.

The Lions' efforts to rebuild have also been boosted by a $12,500 State Government grant which Parliamentary Secretary for the Northern Rivers, Ben Franklin MLC, presented to Mrs Sword last Friday.

Mrs Sword said the club had received many offers of support for donations of barbecue equipment, marquees and other items which they use at community events, including the monthly Ballina market the club runs.

But she said the immediate issue was where to store the gear, and the government grant would go toward a storage shed, with a barbecue trailer also a top priority - the old one may be able to be rebuilt.

"We are a service club and this will allow us to get on with our service,” she said after being presented with the grant.

"This makes us want to get in there and do it.”

Mrs Sword and her husband, Lion Bob, have been personally affected by fire before, losing their home in the Canberra bushfires of 2003.

She said the support the Lions club has received from the community has been "amazing”.

At the moment, the shed, near Fripp Oval and the TAFE, can't be accessed as it has asbestos.

That means the club members haven't been able to look through to find things that may have survived the fire, particularly the gavel used for club meetings.

The shed, on Canal Rd, was once the clubhouse of a former BMX club, but the Lions have been using it for more than 10 years.

The insured shed is owned by Ballina Shire Council, but is on land owned by TAFE, so there will be some work to do before a new shed can be built.

But Mrs Sword said the market, held on the third Sunday of each month, will keep going ahead as scheduled while the club rebuilds.

Mr Franklin, who is making a name for himself as the politician with pockets full of cash, said he approached the Premier directly to secure the funding.

He told the Lions the "government is doing well and the economy is doing well” which is why the money can be spent on community organisations like the Lions.

He said the $12,500 will be multiplied by hundreds through the money it will help the Lions club raises for the community.



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