Ross Forrest has lived in Lake Cowichan for most of his life, and he has spent a lot of that time volunteering in many different areas.
The town’s mayor was honoured for his dedication to his community early this month when he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal July 3 during a ceremony at Government House in Victoria. The awards were presented by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon.
Forrest was recognized “in honour of his significant achievements and contributions to the community,” according to the Town of Lake Cowichan.
After receiving his medal, Forrest admitted to feeling a bit uncomfortable speaking about it, saying, to him, it is more of a community award than an individual award.
“I honestly feel everything I’ve accomplished has been through teamwork,” he said. “Getting an individual award, I’m kind of, I don’t want to say undeserving, but I’m just humbled. Don’t get me wrong — I’m very pleased to get it; it’s an honour. I just feel it is because of many other people. I think I got it for my accomplishments in the community, so I think it’s a community award.”
Forrest, who has been Lake Cowichan’s mayor since 2008, believes he received the award for his many years of volunteering in his community, mostly through sports and organizing fundraising events.
Forrest was born and raised in Lake Cowichan and has spent most of his 60 years here, moving away only for three years in the late 1980s.
Forrest has always been active in the community.
“My parents were always volunteering in the community as well, in different organizations,” he said. “I learned that through them. The hockey team I was involved in, in the early years, we made a decision to give back to the community and we did a ball tournament for 30 years and put some kids through hockey and contributed to the community in that way.”
Forrest, who was named Lake Cowichan Citizen of the Year in 1996, is a past president of Lake Cowichan Minor Baseball, past executive member of Lake Cowichan Minor Hockey and past chair of the Lake Days committee.
Forrest has been married to Tracy for 36 years, and they have a daughter, Jada, who lives in Cobble Hill and a son, Drew, who lives in Lake Cowichan.
The whole family was able to witness the awards ceremony in Victoria.
While in Victoria for the ceremony, Forrest had a chance to tour Government House, and he says it’s a beautiful place. He was especially impressed with the gardens.
“They’ve got beautiful gardens,” he said. “What surprised me is all their gardens are looked after by their volunteers. They have about 400 volunteers who look after the gardens and landscape.”