Aitchison to perform at World Junior Hockey Championships

Supporters cheering Team Canada at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation world junior hockey championship in Pardubice and Liberc, in the Czech Republic, over the holidays will receive an added boost of Canadian nationalism – in the form of area entertainer Neil Aitchison.
The comedic per­form­er and motivational speak­er will be entertaining a select group of Cana­dians as part of the festivities during a private re­cep­tion in a 16th century church in Prague. Aitchison has been asked to assume the identity of his beloved alter ego, Constable Archibald F. Inkster, of the RCMP, and pre­pare a patriotic routine remini­scent of Bob Hope’s lauded USO Tours.
The character was first de­veloped by Aitchison, iconic humorist Dave Broadfoot, and Alex Mustakas, the artistic direc­tor of Drayton Entertain­ment, in a series of theatre musical comedies, and it has since taken on a life of its own.
“This character started out as a one-time appearance in Bending the Bows at the Dray­ton Festival Theatre back in 1996, and just mushroomed into a full-blown alter ego of sorts,” said Aitchison. “I find it amazing how well the character has been embraced by audi­ences over the years. People don’t hesitate to come up to me on the street and start talking about the show, or hand me jokes and anecdotes to use in the act.”
Aitchison is no stranger to the limelight. Born in Harris­ton, he was “released” from his local high school in 1967 and went on to pursue a degree in broadcasting at Conestoga Col­lege. His growing popularity be­came clear when Aitchison was voted the first Class Presi­dent of Conestoga College after a savvy political campaign asserting the cheeky slogan, I Promise You Nothing.
“I won by a landslide,” he laughed. “Those formative years in Harriston and later on at college largely contributed to the person I am today, and I am so proud of my rural roots.”
Upon graduation, Aitchison worked for CKCO-TV, where he met his “first” – and only wife – Helen. He then switched to radio, selling and managing advertising for 24 years, and then later gaining notoriety on local station NewsTalk 570 with his much-admired after­noon program The Neil Ait­chi­son Show. He spent an addi­tional three years at the station, entertaining audiences with his unmistakable humour and folk­sy look at community News and events, as well as making numer­ous appearances as a key note speaker at various fund­raisers, political events and high-profile concerts.
Aitchison’s accolades in­clude the Queen’s Golden Jubi­lee medal for having made a significant contribution to Can­ada at home or abroad, awarded in 2002 as well as twice being named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Kitchener Westmount Rot­ary, an honour he received for community service in 1991 and 1999.
“Community service is the rent we pay for the space we oc­cupy,” he said matter-of-factly. “Volunteerism is the back­bone of our society, and I find it a privilege to give back when I have been blessed with so much.”
Since his departure from radio, Aitchison has added com­munications consultant to his list of talents, running his own company Totam Consult­ing. A founding board member of award-winning Drayton Entertainment, Aitchison spent six years on staff as Director of Development there.
In 2006, he decided to shake things up by switching fields yet again, joining Melloul-Blamey Construction, one of Ontario’s largest and most diver­sified construction firms, as its senior manager of market development.
“Learning is a lifelong process, and while it was nerve-wracking to switch car­eers at my age, it was also real­ly exciting to delve into an in­dustry where I knew very little,” he said.
Aitchison thrives off the ad­renaline rush, and has morphed into a modern day jack-of-all-trades. Described by Ray Hnatyshyn, former Governor General of Canada as having an “enormous rapport with the audi­ence,” Aitchison continues to be a powerful professional speaker, advocating The Power of Laughter.
He is a much-sought after Master of Ceremonies, includ­ing a memorable hosting event with former President of the United States Bill Clinton, as well as popular theatre perfor­mer for award-winning Dray­ton Entertainment in such sold-out productions as Bending the Bows, Canadian Loonie, Canadian Toonie, and Sor­ry…I’m Canadian.
This latest incarnation of the character is the brainchild of John Carroll, owner of Destiny Tours, in Kitchener-Waterloo.
“John contacted me a few weeks ago, as he was looking for a unique marketing angle for the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championship pack­age he is coordinating, and ask­ed if I would be interested in joining the group as a special guest escort and entertainer,” said Aitchison. “I agreed im­mediately, as it sounded like a great opportunity. I really com­mend John for thinking outside the box, and demonstrating his creativity as an innovator in the travel industry.”
The 450 supporters for Team Canada includes travel­lers from every province, as well as 112 military personnel from Europe, and a dozen Af­ghanistan veterans.
“It’s certainly a diverse group of people,” said Aitchi­son. “But we’re all united by our love of hockey, and more im­portantly, our love of Can­ada. I look forward to having a private audience with them and sharing my observations on what it means to be a proud Canadian.”
Aitchison is equally excited about experiencing the history and culture of the Czech Re­public during his 11-day tour, with visits to Prague, Hradec Kralove, and Karlovy Vary.
Upon his return, Aitchison – and his Mountie persona – will appear in a February concert with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
“It’s great to be in such demand at this later stage of my life, when things should be slow­ing down,” said the baby boomer, with a twinkle in his eye.
“I can’t wait to see what’s in store next.”