Queanbeyan has brought us many things, but who knew the nationally loved Lions Christmas cake got its start there? APRIL MARCH reports.
BORN in Queanbeyan, the Lions Christmas cake has become a staple at the table of many Australian homes.
Known for its taste, fruit content, and shelf life – the iconic cake has raised more than $50 million for local communities since its inception in Queanbeyan in 1967.
Long-standing Lions Club of Queanbeyan member Noel Reid, 95, was instrumental in the foundation of the “much loved” cake fundraiser, 52 years ago.
The past district governor, former club president and self-confessed sweet tooth ran the highly successful initiative out of Queanbeyan from 1967 until 1984.
“At one time…we strived for a million cake sales across Australia in 1975…and we did it,” says Noel.
Reid, a retired stock and station agent, served in Borneo during World War II.
In 1957 Noel married his wife Joan and joined the Lions Club of Queanbeyan.
The father of seven children and 16 grandchildren, Reid is the last remaining charter member of the Lions Club of Queanbeyan.
“I talked him into joining the club,” chuckled Joan.
“He always wanted to help… he always wants to help the person in need.”
Reid’s son in law, Greg Tarrant, is also involved in Lions.
He’s immensely proud of the role his family has played in the Christmas cake initiative.
“The idea came from a small club in America who were selling cakes as a fundraiser,” Greg said.
“Noel, along with other members Aub Rankin, Ern Smith and later Peter Stapleton were all part of getting the cakes fundraiser rolling here.
“For many years it was run out of Noel’s office at WJ Gibbs and Co in Queanbeyan… his office was always full of cakes.
“But the whole concept revolves around Helen Keller…”
In 1925, Helen Keller attended the Lions Clubs International Convention and challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind” in the crusade against darkness. The Lions accepted her challenge and its work ever since has included fundraising for sight programs.
Lions Club of Queanbeyan president Max Carrick said the “iconic” cake is still being baked using the original tried, tested, proven and unique Lions Christmas cake recipe.
“Everyone loves it,” he says.
“We never get any complaints, nobody has ever come back and said, ‘that was a dud cake’.
“The cakes have been a fantastic fundraiser for clubs across Australia.
“We are all very proud of the fact that Queanbeyan is where it all started.”
In Lions, 100 per cent of the money raised from the public goes to support community projects.
“We support many worthwhile causes, projects and organisations such as Meals on Wheels, HOME In Queanbeyan, a local women’s refuge and Queanbeyan Special Needs Group,” Max said.
“Last year we raised $25,000 alone for local community projects through our Lions Club Bookshop on Monaro Street in Queanbeyan.”
Lions Christmas cakes are on sale until Christmas from Lions volunteers at Queanbeyan’s Riverside Plaza, Jerrabomberra Shopping Village and the Lions Community Bookshop, 146 Monaro Street Queanbeyan, South Point (formerly Tuggeranong Hyperdome), Belconnen Mall, Jamison shopping centre, Westfield Belconnen, Canberra Outlet Centre, Westfield Woden, Bunnings Tuggeranong, Bunnings Majura Park and Gungahlin Town Centre.