(As a diversion, many people are unaware that Dunkirk is in England. It is a village in Kent, not far from Canterbury!)
I mentioned the Dunkirk evacuation yesterday in connection with the paddle steamer, the Medway Queen. It was, of course, immediately after that defeat-seen-as-victory that Churchill made what is possibly his most famous speech:
What I have only today discovered is that, although the speech was made in the House of Commons in 1940, Churchill only recorded it in 1949! You can read about it here. But I digress again.
It was only a matter of three or four months after Churchill gave that speech that the Blitz began. Much of London, especially the docks and the East End, was flattened. When men of the Canadian air force saw the conditions in which people were living, and especially the lack of food, they wrote home. Lions Clubs in Canada responded by sending food parcels.
After the war, the Queen (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother), who had been very much impressed by this generosity, sent an equerry to Canada to find out about Lions Clubs. As a result, Canadian Lions established Lions Clubs in England. Indeed, it was a Canadian who was responsible for establishing Brighton Lions Club. A short quote from Diamond Geezers, the history of the first 60 years of Brighton Lions Club:
Why Brighton was selected as the place in which to form a new Lions Club is not known, but some years later Dennis Venning, one of the charter members, was to recall how it came about:
A representative of Lions International headquarters in Chicago, a Canadian named Murray Huggan, came to Brighton in the late summer of 1950 following the successful formation of a Lions Club in London. He had been advised to get in touch with Dick Pockett, and Dick, who was a great pal of mine, got in touch with me and we decided to meet up with this Murray Huggan and see what it was all about. We got hold of four other persons who I thought might be interested and we had a meeting in the Old Ship Hotel to hear all about it. We were all a bit dubious at first and I remember that one thing we asked for was a copy of the latest annual accounts of the Association; our friend had not got such accounts available and so he had to send to Chicago for them. Anyhow, they arrived pretty quickly and we were quickly satisfied as to the credentials of the International Association of Lions Clubs.