For Rosemay Chambers, it was “a bit overwhelming.”
She and her husband Gary Chambers share the 2014 Citizen of the Year award, receiving it from the Kinsmen Club of Fonthill and District at an award banquet last week.
For the 17th year, the club gave out the prize to recognize and encourage volunteerism.
Gary, in an acceptance speech, thanked the Kinsmen for the award and said it took many to make projects possible. He and Rosemary did what they did to give back to the wonderful community they lived in.
Acknowledging his persistent style, he said it is odd for the nominators to honour people “who come to offend them.”
Rosemary encouraged everyone to volunteer to make friends, and, for young people to get to know their community and open doors to the future.
She called volunteering the “ultimate exercise in democracy because you vote for your community every day”, to a cheering full house.
The Chambers are known for their heritage work. It includes a role with the Pelham Heritage Committee in restoring the Old Pelham Town Hall, where the dinner was held, said Mayor Dave Augustyn in his congratulations to the Fenwick couple.
They stirred the organization of Fenwick’s 150th and 160th anniversary celebrations, a bid to make the village’s flag pole a heritage site, the preservation of the Maple Arce Library branch and the sale of 195 commemorative bricks as part of the downtown Fenwick reconstruction.
Rosemay, Augustyn said, gave a passionate presentation to town council about retaining the flag pole. Gary, for his part kept a close eye on the Fenwick reconstruction project.
More recently the Chambers are involved in the restoration of Pelham’s First World War cenotaph and preservation of a capture mortar at the Old Town Hall site.
The couple are known for dressing up in period costume for such events as Canada Day, Fenwick anniversaries, cemetery historic walks and this year Gary as Santa Claus.
The mayor said they even lent him a bearskin coat and beaver felt top hat for a Fenwick Lions Groundhog Day.
Sarah Whitaker, assistant to MPP Tim Hudak, said she was pleased to fill in for the MPP on this occasion because it is a “well deserved honour” for the Chambers.
The former Voice of Pelham editor said she got to know the Chambers during the Fenwick 150th anniversary and for many projects after as they came into her office seeking publicity.
Whitaker called Rosemary a “warm, caring and wonderful person” and, with a smile, Gary as “a little scary.”
MP Dean Allison said the Chambers told him they were surprised by the award because they were simply doing what they loved to do.
“Doesn’t that speak volumes about the people up here,” he said beside them at the head table.
Brian Iggulden, who co-ordinates the top citizen program and acted as master of ceremonies, said the Kinsmen club went “outside the box” when it gave the award to a couple for the first time.
“It was well worth it,” he said about the winners, the response to them and a large turnout for the event during an icy evening.
Past citizens of the year are: Carolyn Mullin (1998), Tony Finamore (1999), Jake Dilts (2000), Eric Bergenstein (2001), George Kowalski (2002), Anne Robbins (2003), Catherine Kuckyt (2004), Gerry Berkhout (2005), Paul Ryan (2006), Gayle Baltjes-Chataway (2007), Rick Lowes (2008), Gail Hilyer (2009), Gord Klager (2010), Sandra Warden (2011), Fred Disher (2012) and David Swan (2013).
A plaque listing their names hangs in Town Hall.