Stamps are helping to change the lives of kids with cerebral palsy

Stamps are helping to change the lives of kids with cerebral palsy

The Australian Chapter of Lions International Stamp Club (LISC) is working wonders – raising money to purchase mobility aids for children with cerebral palsy, helping them to stand and walk to the best of their ability. We spoke with member Ross Paine about this incredible work and how stamp collectors across the country can help.

The day I spoke with LISC member Ross Paine, he had already spent the morning travelling around the Sunshine Coast collecting unwanted stamp albums from nine separate addresses. He will then sit down and decide what is useable (many have been faded and rusted with age), clip them (leaving around three to four millimetres around the edge) and then sort and pack them into 10 kg lots of on-paper Australian stamps and four to five kg lots of soaked stamps. The stamps and other philatelic items will then be sent to the NSW Philatelic Association for auction.

And where will the sale proceeds end up? Exactly where $53,000 has already gone over the past 11 years: directly to the Australian Lions Children’s Mobility Foundation, which uses the funds to provide young children with cerebral palsy with Hart Walkers and other mobility devices. This incredible initiative helps a young child to get out of their wheelchair and, as the Foundation’s website explains “walk, explore, play, work and socialise” with their peers.

Each device costs approximately $6,000 and can be fitted from the age of four. The device is then adjusted each year as the child grows, for around five years.

Ross Paine

Ross and his three colleagues (one in Sydney, one in Perth and one in Trafalgar, Victoria) coordinate the LISC project to the whole of Australia, which is an incredible achievement when you consider that they handle up to 400 kilos of stamps each year. While most of the stamps are low in individual value, it’s the cumulative effect of the sales that raises the money.

“If we do find some lightly franked stamps that may be of individual value, I’ll auction them separately online. Sometimes the market for our items is not where you would expect. We’ve had a huge interest from Chinese collectors in recent years, in fact a huge surge in the membership of the Lions International Stamp Club from China too. We’ve also had a lot of interest from the USA for Australian Territories’ first day covers. And recently, we received more than $1,000 for a small collection of south-west African stamps,” says Ross.

Prior to retirement, Ross was a successful bank manager where he used his knack for sales and marketing to turn around branches that needed a little ‘TLC’. Those same sales skills, and his determination and ability to galvanise, have helped him with this valuable project.

The personal and emotional rewards have been enormous for all involved, Ross says, from those who donate their stamps, the Lions Club members who collect donations, and the people who donate their time clipping the stamps. And, of course, for Ross and his three co-organisers.

“I have had the privilege of seeing a child being fitted with their first frame. It was an incredibly moving experience. Even recalling it now brings back the same emotion. The look on their face when they turn around, see themselves in the mirror and say, ‘Is that really me?’ – it’s indescribable.”

How you can help

Ross and the LISC team will happily accept clipped stamps, unwanted collections, first day covers, stamp packs, in fact any items of philatelic interest.

To donate, or to assist with clipping stamps for sale, please contact Ross Paine via email: rosspaine@bigpond.com

To learn more about the Australian Lions Children’s Mobility Foundation, visit: alcmf.lions.org.au