It was humbling to hear the brief accounts of the contributions of 18 recipients of the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medals during a Jan. 27 ceremony hosted by local MLA and Energy minister Pete Guthrie.
Each of those present received the acknowledgment of their contributions with humility and some were surprised at the emotions it charged when emcee Ken McArthur talked about their outstanding service and citizenship that lead to the presentations.
"That's what this is about," says Guthrie. "There are some great stories out there that need to be told. When Ken (McArthur) was reading out the files I was just like, wow, I was blown away by this impressive group. It was fantastic."
Recipients were from all walks of life and clearly receiving the medal wasn't why they do what they do to help others.
That includes Dr. Karl Tomm, a UCalgary Faculty of Medicine professor who, among other initiatives, founded and has directed the Calgary Family Therapy Centre for almost 50 years.
"I get a lot of pleasure out of my work, I really do," says Dr. Tomm. It's very grateful to work with families, so this is extra special for me to get extra acknowledgment. I appreciate it. It's wonderful."
When Sgt. Robert Campbell, who has proudly served in the Canadian Forces for over 21 years, got wind of the award, he was quite surprised.
"I just do my job every day helping whomever I can with Veteran Affairs claims and other stuff like that," says Campbell. "To be nominated is a great honour, and I'm quite shocked it even happened."
Travis Cummings, a teacher at St. Timothy High School and athletics coach, was having a hard time wrapping his head around being a recipient.
"It's quite an honour. I'm very flattered, and what I need to do now is to live up to the award."
Jennifer Bacon has been a paramedic with Alberta Health Services, then with EMS since 2009.
More details were provided in the overview read while she came to the front to receive her medal.
"I've never heard that read back to me before so it was definitely heartfelt. Oh, I guess I did do that, and I did do that, and I don't realize it as I go through my life of all those milestones. So to hear someone talk about it to a crowd it was very impactful to be recognized in this way."
Lorne Bremner was been a mover and shaker of Cochrane Minor Hockey's female program, dedicating all of his free time at the arena to spur on its growth.
He admits it was a much more emotional ceremony than he anticipated. He enjoyed hearing about the contributions made by the other recipients.
"There are so many people in the community that do so much that we don't even know about, and they don't do it for the recognition, they want to help people."
The recipients were from Cochrane, Airdrie, Rocky View County, and Coalhurst. Some were unable to attend. Below is the list of recipients and brief accounts of why they were awarded the medal.
Jennifer Bacon, Cochrane: A paramedic with Alberta Health Services, then EMS since 2009, she became involved with the EMS Science and Research team. During the COVID-19 response was dedicated her time to analyzing paramedic data on cardiac arrests. She is a member of the Paramedic Guuard of Honour, and recently started her Masters in precision health at UCalgary.
Sgt. Robert Campbell, Cochrane: Sgt. Campbell has served in the Canadian Forces for over 21 years and is currently employed in the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre in Calgary. He has served as an administration clerk and as a combat engineer with several operational deployments, including Bosnia in 2002.
In his spare time, he volunteers his time educating youth and the local cadet corps on service and remembrance. He also assists fellow veterans with Veterans Affairs disability claims, providing insight into the benefits available and how to navigate a complex system.
Lori Reist, Airdrie: She is a program read for a government-funded program that assists people in need of employment. She is a member of the board of directors of both the Airdrie Food Bank and Kalix Legacy Foundation. She is one of the founders of Airdrie #livelocal, which sells branded clothing with all proceeds used to support the Airdrie community.
She is one of the founders of Adopt-A-Grad Foundation of Canada, which supports graduating students and their families needing assistance with grad-related costs.
Mike Reist of Airdrie: Mike is a correctional officer for the Correctional Service of Canada. he is a member of the 100 Airdrie Men who give a Damn and is one of the leaders in the Airdrie Dads Facebook community. He is also one of the founders of #livelocal and the Adopt-a-Grad Foundation of Canada.
Jill Anderson, Cochrane: She started her career in correction and progressed to community corrections and parole. In recent years, she played an intricate part in the development and implementation of the provincial parole board. Through the board, she helps provide people a second chance to better themselves and the community.
Juan Bentancur, Airdrie: He is a correctional officer at the Calgary Remand Centre and is heavily involved with assisting fellow officers with their mental health. He volunteers countless hours to the Wounded Warriors program, helping struggling officers around the province suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and many other physical and mental health matters.
Dani Ross, Cochrane: He has been a valued member and officer at the Calgary Remand Centre. Prior to that, he completed a career with the South African military. He instructs provincial programs and gives support to people, first responders, and friends suffering from PTSD. In addition, he's a member of the Calgary Remand Honour Guard.
Stephen Scott, Cochrane: He has been a coach, mentor, and friend with the Special Olympics for many years and leads the torch run in southern Alberta. He is the Sgt. Major for the honour guard team at the Calgary Remand Centre.
Stephen Swaney, Cochrane: He has had a full career in corrections and is currently deputy director of operations and is the person an entire shift of officers looked to for guidance during the pandemic. He also plays a huge part in the Provincial Peer Support program.
Dr. Karl Tomm, Cochrane: He has dedicated his career to improving the lives of families. A professor at UCalgary's Faculty of Medicine, he has been internationally recognized in the family therapy field, speaks worldwide, and has developed various assessment methods, which include 'interventive interviewing and the IPscope model, designed to centralize relational wellness and social justice to promote mental health.
He founded and for nearly 50 years has directed the Calgary Family Therapy Centre, a nonprofit charitable organization that offers training and research and provided over 5,000 family therapy sessions during the pandemic for families and children experiencing mental health concerns.
Lorne Bremner, Cochrane: He has played a major role in building up Cochrane Minor Hockey's female hockey program from just a few girls to what is now multiple divisions. He was instrumental in successfully rebranding the teams with their own name -- Jr. Chaos -- and colours. He spends all his spare time at the rink, coaching and directing the program.
Travis Cummings, Cochrane: As a school teacher and athletic coach, he has made an outstanding contribution to the lives of students and athletes in the Athletics Alberta community. He has devoted an untold number of unpaid hours to developing school athletes and those he coaches with the Cochrane Endurance Project.
Jason Yardley, Cochrane: In addition to his duties as a member of the Calgary Fire Dept. for the last five years, he has served on their honour guard for the last three. He had over 26 years of military service. As platoon warrant officer with the Calgary Highlanders, he provided leadership and mentorship as the unit's second in command. Operational deployments include Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. He is also an active member of the Evanston Creekside Community Association, where he has served as both board president and secretary.
Eric Paxman, Coalhurst: As a firefighter, he is dedicated to public safety within our community and the people of Alberta. He brings an exemplary level of dignity and professionalism to his role and is a skilled and valued leader.
Alex Dove, Rocky View County: He is an advanced care paramedic for the AHS Calgary Zone and has served a 31-year career across Canada. He has shown true leadership over those years. He served as an incident response paramedic in one of those roles where he played an integral role in developing proper PPE protocols and training, particularly for pandemic EMS responses. He has received many honours during his career, including the Alberta Emergency Services medal in 2010 and the Federal Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service medal in 2015.
William Hudson, Airdrie: Is a dedicated officer of the Calgary Remand Centre, a valued member of the Honour Guard, and never hesitates to give back to the community. He will sleep on roofs for Free the Fuzz, raise awareness for Special Olympics, and puts smiles on children's faces in every community parade.
Jeff Kirby, Airdrie: He has had a full career in corrections, and his position as Honour Guard Commander ensures his team is able to attend and give back to the community. He is a leader and mentor and his current position put him on the frontline to ensure the mental and physical well-being of officers during the pandemic.
He is deeply involved in the provincial peer support team and has spent his off hours delivering meals for meals on wheels for the last three years.
Brenda Grass, Airdrie: She has been volunteering at the Airdrie Food Bank since 2014. During the pandemic, she gladly increased her commitment to the organization and has acted as a team leader, training and mentoring fellow volunteers. Since January 2019, she has contributed close to 3,000 hours, truly making a difference in the food bank and the people it serves.