For 16 years, the Elora Festival and St. John’s Anglican Church here has honoured a local resident for outstanding community service work with the Florence Nightingale award.
On Sunday, the award was presented to Dr. Rudy Chiarandini.
He moved to Fergus from Toronto with his wife, Sandra, at the age of 27. He was fresh out of dental school, a newlywed, and very excited to open a dental practice in a small town. He was extremely eager to get involved with the local community.
Chiarandini joined the Fergus Elora Rotary club that gave to both communities in a great many ways. At first, he was an active member, but soon he took the helm as president, and remained a member for 38 years. Among a great many other community service roles, Chiarandini was also one of the founding governors of St. John’s School, in Elora, the now very successful St. John’s Kilmarnock.
He was also a founding member of the Three Centuries Festival, now the Elora Festival. The Chiarandinis continue their community service work. This year, Rudy and Sandra are supporting the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa concert on July 13, in memory of Dr. William Ellis, the founding chairman of the Three Centuries Festival.
Chiarandini said in an interview that he and Sandra were on the first board of governors of the Three Centuries Festival. He said the festival’s success included having a “good artistic director that picked a niche.”
He added that high quality performances also help the festival, although he noted that it did suffer some growing pains from cash shortage.
“One year, we all signed cheques,” he said of the board members. Now, we’re bringing Dame Kiri” [Te Kanawa].
She is considered one of the top opera singers in the world, and her farewell tour includes Washington D.C., Chicago, and Elora.
The Florence Nightingale award was presented to Chiarandini on July 12, and it is referred to as Florence Nightingale Sunday, at St. John’s Church.
Nightingale herself has strong ties with St. John’s Church. It is believed that she carried a crush on her cousin, John Smithurst, who became Rector of St. John’s in 1852. Not long after taking his position, a present arrived for Smithurst – a set of communion vessels bearing an inscription in Latin.
The clergyman gave the set to St. John’s Church, and today it remains one of Elora’s most treasured possessions. Most people have believed right from the start that the gift came from Florence Nightingale herself. Florence Nightingale Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday of the Elora Festival.