ELORA – Two prominent Centre Wellington volunteers say they were surprised to be honoured with “citizen of the year” titles last week at the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce’s (CWCC) Awards of Excellence Gala.
“I never expected it, but it’s kind of nice to be recognized … it’s amazing,” said Abby Taylor of Fergus, who was named Youth Citizen of the Year.
Citizen of the Year winner Joe Van den Borre, also of Fergus, echoed that sentiment.
“I really didn’t think it was going to happen,” he said. “I was up against a couple formidable people that are very active in the community (fellow nominees McKim Ecclestone and Neil Armstrong).”
Van den Borre and Taylor were among several individuals and businesses recognized at the July 23 gala, which featured a drive-in movie theme and was presented by OLG at the Grand River Raceway in Elora.
The original event was to be held in May, and planning, including award adjudication, was well underway when everything was put on hold in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The drive-in movie event last week saw approximately 80 cars full of nominees, sponsors and community members gather in the parking lot, with precautions that included drive through registration and every-other-space parking.
“We are proud to have delivered this unique event to our Centre Wellington business community,” stated CWCC event planner Sally Litchfield in a press release.
“We tried to make it as interactive and exciting as possible, and we can’t thank the attendees enough for their enthusiasm and willingness to participate.”
Citizens of the year
Taylor was recognized for her volunteer efforts with Centre Wellington District High School, Big Brothers Big Sisters and various sports organizations, among other efforts.
Though she was also nominated for the award last year, Taylor said it was “flattering” and “very exciting” to win the second time around.
Van den Borre said he was “shocked and humbled” to learn of his nomination this spring after reading about it in the Wellington Advertiser. He had “no clue whatsoever” he would win.
“A bit more shock and awe,” he said with a laugh, describing his reaction when his name was called last Thursday night.
Van den Borre has been a member of the Elora Lions Club for 30 years and has served as marshal for the Elora Santa Claus Parade for about eight years. He has also volunteered in the past with Melville United Church, sports organizations and the Blue Bonnet Lassies School of Highland Dance.
In addition to Van den Borre and Taylor, the other award winners were:
- President’s Award – McKim Ecclestone;
- Business of the Year – RLB Chartered Professional Accountants;
- Customer Service Excellence Award – Burke’s Tent Rentals;
- Business Beautification Award – Karger Gallery;
- Tradesperson Award – Mark Martin Complete Home Exteriors;
- Corporate Citizen of the Year – Skyline Group of Companies;
- Not-for-Profit Award – Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games;
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Fresh Box Market Agricultural;
- Agri-Business Award – Best Baa Dairy Ltd.;
- Cultural, Arts, Tourism Impact Award – The Grand at 101.1 FM;
- Environmental Excellence Award – Jefferson Elora Corporation;
- Community Social Responsibility Award – Save Our Water;
- Long Service Award – 25 Years – I Love Chocolate, Nick’s Quick Delivery, Wilmot Financial Services Inc.; and
- Long Service Award – 40 Years – Derek G. Graham Limited, Elora Festival and The Elora Singers, Noecker Travel Limited, Pryde Truck Service Ltd., Voyageur Transportation Services.
CWCC officials say the “adjusted version of this event” would not have been possible without the support of:
- the volunteer committee;
- key partners from the community including OLG, the Grand River Agricultural Society and The Grand at 101; and
- specialty sponsors Burke’s Tent Rental’s, Mallot Creek Group, Motion Electrical Contracting, RLB, Skyline Group of Companies, and the Township of Centre Wellington.