Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of its prestigious community awards this past Thursday night, with two Lake stalwarts picking up the main two for the year 2013.
Gerald Thom, president of the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society, won the 2013 Citizen of the Year Award and Wilma Rowbottom, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 2010 in Lake Cowichan, won the 2013 Nichole Stock Community Service Award.
“It’s pretty special and I’m honoured and humbled that the community would give me such an award,” said a delighted Rowbottom who is in her 14th year as president of the legion. “I started out playing slow pitch and the legion sponsored our team so this was my of paying them back — to get on the executive.”
The criteria for the Nichole Stock Award is: an individual who has exemplified volunteerism; one who has served the community unselfishly on an ongoing basis in 2013; and one who has not received any remuneration for the volunteer activity for which the award is being proposed.
The legion is something that Rowbottom holds close to her heart.
“My stepfather, my uncle and my husband’s stepfather all served during World War II,” she explained. My husband’s stepfather was a medic in the army and was a very compassionate man stationed in Holland. He would give the people of Holland his rations as they were starving and then when he went back to visit after the war, they wouldn’t let him pay for anything.”
Like Rowbottom, Thom was surprised to receive his award.
“It was totally unexpected, but I was very honoured,” said Thom who believes one of the CLRSS’ biggest achievements this year has been collaboration. “Working with other non-profit groups is always a challenge, but it puts us in a good place moving forward.
“You can’t be a good volunteer without a good board. We’re just getting started and the platform is huge for the next three years for us to do great things around the lake.”
One of Thom’s main goals in the months ahead is to attain an element of local water protection on Lake Cowichan.
“There is a drought coming this summer and we need more local control. The provincial water controller denied us the access to store water in our weir and I don’t agree with that. Our stakeholders such as local government, First Nations and fisherman need to have more input. The federal and provincial government are strapped for time and local people can assist. Hopefully the new water sustainability act will help us to do that.”
The awards were presented amidst the chamber’s AGM where the elections for next year’s board took place in front of a packed crowd at the curling lounge including CVRD director’s Ian Morrison and Pat Weaver, Mayor Ross Forrest and Councillors Bob Day and Jayne Ingram.
Next year’s directors and board members include Ron McKenzie, Bruce Ingram, Wendy Klyne, Mike Desjardins, Kyt Cuthbert, Tara Bushby, Maureen Culter, Glenda Bush and Jim Humphrey.