Awards ceremony is revamp of Citizen of the Year Awards ceremony
By Mark Squibb | Vol 7 No. 15 (Aug. 1, 2019)
A new venue and a new timing for an old set of awards is how Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker explained the newly minted Best In Mount Pearl Awards Ceremony, held July 18 at the Reid Community Centre. It combined both the Citizen of the Year Award Ceremony and the Pearl Awards.
“I’d like to give a big shout out to all those who organized this and took a little bit of a risk. I think there’s a little bit of risk in moving this from April, when it was traditionally held during Volunteer Month, to now,” explained Aker, who noted the new ceremony dovetails into City Days celebrations.
“You all make a big difference in all of our lives, and what we celebrate here is your contribution. It’s always great to be nominated, that’s what you take away from here tonight. To win an award is gravy. But to be nominated is basically what’s essential at an event like this.”
It was a night of much applause, but none as thunderous as when it announced that all three nominees for the Lifetime Achievement Award would be awarded.
Agnes Murphy was the first to receive the honour.
Murphy was a founding member of the Mount Pearl Figure Skating Club in 1977 and the Frosty Festival in 1982, and served in many positions with both organizations over the years, amongst work with other volunteer groups. She was awarded the Mount Pearl Citizen of the year in 2007, has served on the Focus on Youth Awards judging committee since 2006, and was named to the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors in 2010.
“Living in Mount Pearl since 1970, I’ve meet so many wicked volunteers. It gives me great pleasure tonight to accept this with two of my best friends,” she told the crowd. “There are so many other people deserving of this, but I’m so honoured to accept this tonight.. there are so many doing things that makes Mount Pearl the place it is. When I make people happy, it makes me happy, and I’m so proud to be a citizen of Mount Pearl.”
Next to receive the award was Barbara Predham. She was an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus for 40 years, an active member on the Mount Pearl Skating Club committee, and in 1996 was the first female inducted into the Mount Pearl Sports Hall of Fame. She has served with various other boards and organizations over the years too.
“Family is everything. Without your family, you could never be involved. I’d like to thank John, my husband, for all the times I left him home with the kids,” Predham said, to the laughter of the crowd.
“I’ve said to him many times, ‘Don’t touch the pie on the counter, don’t touch the cookies, that’s for the ladies.’”
She told a short anecdote about organizing a skating meet, which included assigning visiting skaters with billet families.
“I called my brother, he had three small children, and I said, ‘Would you mind taking this boy for the weekend? You’ll never see him, he’ll be at the rink the whole weekend, and you only got to have him up to sleep.’ Of course, Friday he arrived, and we had a snowstorm, and he never got out of the house until Sunday night to bring him back to the airport.”
Finally, the late Bernice Miller was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously.
Her husband Art Miller accepted the award on her behalf.
“I’ve been accused of being the most positive person in the city,” he addressed the crowd. “If I go to Kent’s, and people ask me how I am, I say I’m fantastic, and I am. And for 40 years, I’ve had another reputation: I’ve played second fiddle to a very popular volunteer. And I was always known as Bernice’s husband. On behalf of Bernice, and honey this is for you,” he said, raising the award upward. “I say thank you to each and every citizen, and to this marvelous city that she loved, and I do, thank you.”
Bernice served with the Frosty Festival for over 27 years and also served with the 2000 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games, Knights of Columbus Women’s Auxiliary, and Scouts Canada. Miller also was awarded Citizen of the Year in 1992 and served on Mount Pearl City Council from 1997 to 2003.
The esteemed Richard Lavandier Citizen of the Year award for 2018 went to Robert Hayes.
Hayes, current president of the Mount Pearl Soccer Association, was involved in five community groups in 2018, including Chace the Ace, O’Donel High School Safe Grad, Frosty Festival, and Mary Queen of the World School Council.
“I want to congratulate all the nominees,” said Hayes. “There’s many people in this room who are more than worthy to be up on this stage. I’ve had the privilege of serving with a lot of great volunteers, from Frosty to soccer to Chace the Ace. It’s an investment in community, but it’s a lot of fun, it’s a great feeling when you’re helping the different organizations.”
Other nominees included Dave Lythgoe and Calvin Smith.
The winner of the Impact In Music, Arts, and Culture Award was the Mount Pearl Show Choir.
Carl Goulding accepting on their behalf.
“It’s been a wonderful thing to be involved in the arts and culture of Mount Pearl. And so, on behalf of all of the members of the Mount Pearl Show Choir, who have been there and continue to be there, and the parents who volunteer to support them in the past and currently, thank you for this recognition,” he said.
The choir was established in 1983 and has reached national and international heights, including an involvement since 2005 with the International Peace Education project.
Other nominees included the Association for the Arts in Mount Pearl and Conway, a contemporary Celtic duo.
The Frosty Festival was named Community Group of the year. Megan Drodge accepted on behalf of the committee.
“It was a great honour to be nominated, and to all the other community groups in our city, thank you for everything that you do,” said Drodge. “Here accepting this award on behalf of the festival, I’m really accepting this award on behalf of 500 volunteers in our community. So, each February, 500 people from Mount Pearl and surrounding area come together to put off a 12-day festival. And we truly try to offer something for everyone. To the community groups that help us put off that festival, to the Kinsmen, the Lions Club, the Girl Guides, the sporting teams, the church organizations, and everyone in between, this award, while it will live in our office, is really a testament to all the work our community groups and our volunteers put into the festival.”
The Frosty Festival has been a staple in Mount Pearl for over 30 years, and the 2019 festival featured over 80 events across 12 days.
Other nominees included the Mount Pearl Citizens Crime Prevention Committee and the Mount Pearl Seniors Independence Group.