YORK Lions Club has closed after 62 years, blaming a dwindling, ageing membership - and the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Paul Newman, the club's last ever president, said the organisation had been struggling for a few years with falling membership and changing social times.

Then the Covid pandemic struck.

"We were meeting on Zoom, but not being able to raise any money, and we just thought 'why are we doing this?'" the 81-year-old three-times York Lions Club president said.

The club was formed in 1958, as part of Lions Club International.

Down the years, the club has raised about £600,000 for local charities, says Mr Newman, a retired head brewer for Bass in Tadcaster who lives in Poppleton.

The club officially closed its books in October. It has cleared its accounts by making final donations totalling more than £5,000 to several local charities.

These included £1,500 to City of York Council's healthy children scheme; £1,000 to York Samaritans; £600 to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance; £500 each to the York Rescue Boat, Door 84 and the Our Fathers Heart charity; and £250 to York Mind.

The Minster Lions Club, which operates Rocking Rudolph, is a separate club to the York Lions, and is still running.

At its height, the York Lions Club boasted 30-40 members, many of them prominent York citizens, and raised more than £10,000 every year for charity.

"It was one of the leading clubs in the North of England for many years," Mr Newman said.

In the early years, the club's big annual event was the Coal Appeal, in which club members would collect coal and then distribute it to families who couldn't afford it so that they could keep warm at Christmas.

This was later replaced by the Annual Appeal, in which members made house to house collections to raise money for good causes.

All money went to charity, Mr Newman said, because members all gave their services free.

Many local charities and organisations have benefited from the club's activities down the years - including York Hospital. "We bought a retinal camera for the eye clinic, that was about £20,000," Mr Newman said.

Other local causes supported down the years have included the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society and Wilberforce Homes.

The club also supported international charities such as Sight First and Water Aid.

And for 40 years it was twinned with a German club in Mulheim an der Ruhr, a city in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia.

That relationship paid dividends following York's 'Great Floods' of 2000. "They sent us £5,000!" Mr Newman said.

Winding up the club had been sad, Mr Newman admitted.

Last week, he found himself going through some of the club's old paperwork, and recognising names and faces of former members.

"I found that highly emotional," he said.