Julie Barry, a Lion with a heart

Julie Barry, a Lion with a heart
Julie Barry outside La Cala de Mijas Lions shop Photo Credit: RTN

A FORMER dancer who appeared in Grange Hill is now president of La Cala de Mijas Lions Club which raises between €50,000 and €80,000 each year.

The achievements of the 36 Lions (the maximum allowed) and their many helpers are incredible with so much money earned by the charity which it then spends in the area.

Julie Barry took over the reins of La Cala Lions in July of this year and she told RTN in an exclusive interview that she has many plans to encourage wise expenditure as well getting ready for the this chapter’s 20th Anniversary at the start of next year.

First charity shop

She is proud of the fact that the La Cala charity shop was –  as far as the Lions know –  the very first British style charity shop opened in the Costa del Sol and the double fronted store, just off the seafront is packed with a whole range of goods and customers.

Open daily Monday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm, the charity strives to have one Lion and six volunteers on the premises at all times and this major contributor to the Lions income is always looking for additional volunteers to work in the shop just one day a week.

Loves Spain

Julie from Wales, a bundle of energy, who has run her own dance school  moved to Spain permanently with ex Royal Navy husband Tim and their son now aged 18 just seven and a half years ago.

She loves the climate, the people and the pace of life but wasn’t prepared to just sit back and enjoy the life of a lotus eater, especially as Tim started working at Marbella Golf and their son was at school.

Becoming a Lion

Julie decided to become a volunteer at the charity shop and found that she loved the close relationships formed with all of the volunteers and having been a charity fundraiser in the UK, she was impressed with the way in which the Lions supported local causes.

As time passed and she became more involved, she decided to apply to become one of the 36 Lions and although she is not a Spanish speaker, persuaded her son to assist her as translator (and general porter) whenever needed.

Future plans

Now as President of La Cala Lions, she is able to influence the donations made during the coming year, although they will continue to fund local schools and charities as well as looking slightly further afield.

The parent group which was founded in Alabama as a men’s club has expanded around the world and its motto “We Serve” expresses the aims of every single one of its groups. A small percentage of funds raised are sent to the International Foundation to support the ‘Sight First’ programme which helps to cure blindness around the world.

The Bill Gates Foundation matches every penny or cent raised for this purpose and separately, the La Cala Lions will be funding 250 cataract operations in the African state of Mauritania through Village Ventures Africa.

Helping hands

As there are no Lions Clubs in some neighbouring towns, La Cala Lions also supports the private organisation Adintre in Fuengirola which feeds up to 250 people on a regular basis and Encina Laura in Alhaurin de la Torre which helps disabled people to have a better life.

Last word

Julie told the RTN “I love La Cala de Mijas because it retains a lot of the original Spain although it is being built up again. I just hope that it doesn’t become so big that Spanish residents decide to leave.”

Customers and volunteers are always welcome at the La Cala Lions charity shop at Calle Torremolinos and if you wish to help or donate any items please call 677 05 90 61.

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