After 58 years Malton and Norton Lions Club has its first woman President.

Di Keal, has taken over the role at the club – minus the usual celebration due to the Covid19 lockdown.  Di said:

“Under normal circumstance the Lions hold a Handover Dinner to celebrate a new President taking on the role, but this hasn’t been possible this year due to social distancing.”

“It’s a real pity as I was keen to mark the fact that I am the first female President and hope to start a trend as my Vice-President is also a woman, but I’m sure we will get an opportunity to get the Club together later on in the year and hold some sort of belated celebration.”

Di takes over from another ‘first’ for Malton and Norton Lions Club, out-going President Jack Wilford, who was the club’s youngest member to hold the role at just 29.  Di added:

“I am delighted to become President – my father was a long-term member of the Lions and I be will carrying out the role in his memory.”

“As a child we moved around a lot with his work, but wherever we went, my dad joined the local Lions club. Mum and dad helped run a Lions fund-raising shop in Hessle and I remember dad going out on Christmas morning to deliver presents to a children’s home in Scarborough.”

“I hope he would be proud of me becoming President of the Malton and Norton Club, where he was a member some years ago.”

“My mum, however, wouldn’t have approved at all as she was a traditionalist and didn’t think women should be club members, never mind become President!  Fortunately, times have changed!”

Unsurprisingly, one of Di’s aims as president is to recruit more women members to Malton and Norton Lions Club.

Having worked in social care and, in the past few months volunteered as part of the Ryedale Volunteer Network, helping to organise local community kitchens, Di is also keen to see the club continue to support people in Malton and Norton as they continue to feel the aftermath of the Covid19 pandemic.  She said:

“We have been fortunate in Malton and Norton to have seen limited numbers of deaths from Covid19 and many people seem to think that now lockdown is easing life will return to normal.”

“Sadly, for many people this will not be the case as the lasting economic impact of the pandemic has led to many people losing their jobs and facing an uncertain future.”

“There have always been hidden pockets of deprivation in this area and the pandemic has exposed these – the Foodbank and other sources of support have been incredibly busy in recent months and this it likely to continue as the full impact of the pandemic becomes clear. I suspect, as Lions, we will be very busy in the coming months helping to support our local community.”

One of Di’s first jobs as President was to present a cheque to Ryedale Foodbank interim Manager, Malcolm Dyer. During the Covid19 pandemic Malton and Norton Lions have raised £6,850 for the Foodbank.

“This is a great total and the Lions would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our online appeal.

“Even during lockdown Malton and Norton Lions have been doing our best to continue to support local people who need our help.”

“Alongside our donations to the Foodbank, we also recently raised £2000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance by holding a ‘virtual’ Summer Lunch. Many thanks to Lion John Harrison for organising this event and to Lions Pauline Lowry and Vice President, Annie Harrison, for promoting the event so well on social media.”

“Many thanks also to all the Lions who took part in this event – hopefully next summer we will be able to all get together and enjoy our usual face to face Summer Lunch.”

Di Keal President Malton & Norton Lions