Valerie McCracken has been named the recipient of the 2020 Order of Cochrane.

McCracken’s most visible role in the community is as the manager of the successful Cochrane Farmers’ Market — including the Downtown Street Market and Last Minute Christmas Market — but she has actually been an active community volunteer for over 20 years.

Her activities include chairing or co-chairing Sustainability Partners Uniting Resources (SPUR), West Valley/West Terrace Community Association, the Cochrane Community Awards, and Glenbow School Council.

She has also been extensively involved with the Cochrane Environmental Action Committee (CEAC), Mitford and Bow Valley School Councils, and Cochrane’s recent Tri-Sites advisory group. She is currently a member of the Cochrane Tourism Association.

McCracken was surprised by the award.

"I know how many icons of our community have received this in the past, people who have through their own outstanding contributions help to build our community," said McCracken upon accepting the award. "So, the fact that my name is to be added to that list is quite humbling."

Though this year's community awards were postponed until 2021, the town didn't want to forgo naming a deserving person to the Order of Cochrane.

Because the traditional community awards luncheon didn't occur, the town sought a unique way to surprise McCracken.

Mayor Jeff Genung explains McCracken was told each candidate was being separately recorded for a video and came to the council chambers for her session.

"She didn't know what was going on," says Mayor Jeff Genung. "Her husband Jeff and her nominator, Tim Giese, both were in the know. They were in the backroom and then when I pulled out the envelope, she truly found out in just the moment. It was a true surprise to Val that she was the recipient."

The video was released at last night's town council meeting. 

Mayor Genung calls McCracken an inspiration to the community.

"She's been volunteering in Cochrane for over 20 years and thought of as a professional volunteer by a lot of her friends and colleagues. I think that says a lot about who she is as a person." 

The Order of Cochrane was established in 2009 and is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon an individual by the Town of Cochrane. The annual award is presented by mayor and council to an individual who, by their commitment, vision, and leadership, has created a lasting legacy in the development of our community.

The video was released at last night's town council meeting. 

Robin Harvie was the first recipient in 2009, followed by Barry Mjolsness, Jimmy and Christina MacKay Family, Gordon Davies, former mayor Lydia Graham, Maureen Wills, Jack Tennant, Betty and Denis Goodsell, Susan Flowers (before she served on town council), and former councillor Dr. Ross Watson.