Club that does a roaring trade in helping others

Lions Great Duck Derby launch

Lions Great Duck Derby launch - Credit: Archant

As anticipation mounts ahead of its biggest fundraiser of the year this weekend, the Lions Club of Sidmouth shows no sign of slowing down its work for worthwhile causes.

The annual Great Duck Derby takes place on Sunday (July 19).

A deluge of ducks will be seen racing down the River Sid to raise funds for Nightstop Devon and the 1st Sid Vale Scout Group - as well as the organisation’s charity activities.

Nightstop provides emergency overnight accommodation for temporarily homeless youngsters and the scouts’ chunk of the proceeds will go to help equip their new headquarters.

Last year’s event raised more than £5,300 and club members are hoping for a similarly strong show of support for this year.

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Now approaching its 40th year, the Lions Club of Sidmouth works to offer financial support to a huge number of local causes, with beneficiaries this year ranging from scouts, Samaritans and surf lifesavers, to the Sid Valley Memory Café.

Chris Rignall is one of the club’s 19 members and said its aim is to help as many people as possible in the area, serve the community and champion local causes, while promoting fun and friendship.

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He said: “We try to keep the work we do as close as possible to the local community.

“We get quite a lot of requests from individuals, as well as people referred to us by social services.

“We have helped young single parents by providing childcare costs so they can work, particularly during the school holidays.

“We give all requests careful consideration and we have to be careful how we make our donations - so we put a lot of hours in each year.”

Chris added: “I have been involved in the Lions for 35 years, firstly in outer London and for the past 13 years in Sidmouth.

“I enjoy the camaraderie, helping others and serving the community.”

Throughout the past 12 months, the group has raised almost £16,000 for worthwhile causes, primarily around Sidmouth and East Devon.

Sidmouth Surf Life Saving Club was given a £1,050 donation to buy specialist training equipment for its junior group – children aged between 13 and 16 years of age.

Its chairman, Dave Manley, said: “The Lions have been really helpful for us. The specialist training equipment has enabled our juniors to compete against other surf life saving clubs around the south west and nationally. It enables us to represent the club and go up against clubs from all over Britain.”

Just some of the donations awarded this year included £1,000 to Devon Air Ambulance, £325 to Sidmouth Lifeboat, £1,372 for the Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund and £700 which went to Tipton St John Scout Group.

Sidmouth College, MacMillan Cancer Support, Lions Clubs International’s Nepal earthquake disaster fund and Balloons, which offers bereavement support for children, were among the other beneficiaries.

Chris said the club is actively seeking more members and would welcome any community-minded people getting in touch.

If you would like to find out more about Sidmouth Lions or support some of the club’s events and activities, contact Chris by phone on 01395 577450, email, or visit

Alternatively you can get more information at the publicity tent near the Duck Derby finishing point by the weir.

? Turn to page 29 for more on Sunday’s event.

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