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Health and Community Services
June 29, 2011

Contributions of Seniors Recognized through Awards Program

Each year the Provincial Government recognizes the significant contributions seniors and older adults make to their communities and the province. This year, eight deserving individuals throughout Newfoundland and Labrador are being presented with the 2012 Seniors of Distinction Award.

“This awards program celebrates the achievements and diversity of older persons throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and gives us the opportunity to see the significant impacts they have made on our province,” said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Health and Community Services and Minister Responsible for Aging and Seniors. “June is Seniors Month, a month in which our government acknowledges the contribution of seniors in our province. Each of this year’s honourees continues to share their skills and abilities to improve the lives of others and their participation and dedication has enriched their communities and Newfoundland and Labrador.”

To be considered for a Seniors of Distinction Award, a senior must be nominated by an individual or group, be 50 years of age or older and be a current or past resident of Newfoundland and Labrador. Individuals are considered for both voluntary and paid work. Nominations from the previous year are also reviewed again upon the request of a nominee.

This year’s award winners truly represent the ideals and qualities that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are known and respected for throughout the country and world. A biography of each of this year’s recipients can be found in the backgrounder below. The recipients of the 2012 Seniors of Distinction award are:

“Our government is committed to developing an age-friendly province,” said Minister Sullivan. “We will continue to promote the value and worth of older persons in our province through initiatives such as the Seniors of Distinction Awards. The Provincial Government also encourages the health and well-being of older persons through a number of other programs including the Age-Friendly Newfoundland and Labrador Grants Program and the Healthy Aging Seniors Wellness Grants Program.”

The Seniors of Distinction Awards Program was launched in 2009 as an initiative of the Provincial Healthy Aging Policy Framework. The framework aims to recognize older persons, celebrate diversity, support communities, encourage health and financial well-being, and support employment, education and research.

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Media contact:

Jennifer Tulk
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 699-6524

Recipients of the 2012 Seniors of Distinction Awards

Ted A. Blanchard
Ted Blanchard was born in Gilliams in the Bay of Islands. As a teenager he worked for Bowaters in Corner Brook before training to be a teacher, and teaching for two years in a sole-charge school in Trinity East. Mr. Blanchard and his family eventually settled in St. John’s. The majority of Mr. Blanchard’s career was spent working within the Provincial Government, primarily in the field of labour relations and conciliation. Mr. Blanchard is known as a strong leader and in 1988 he entered provincial politics as the Member for the Bay of Islands District and during his political career served as the Minister of Labour. Retirement gave Mr. Blanchard time to focus on his hobbies and interests. As an accomplished fiddle player, he has received numerous accolades for his musical talent. He has indulged his passion for rowing through his involvement in the Royal St. John’s Regatta as a committee member, coach, coxswain and rowing participant.

Fred Budgell
Fred Budgell is a lifelong resident of the Town of Norris Arm. He has been an avid volunteer in many aspects of community development including education, sports, scholarships, heritage, and the Lion’s Club. Mr. Budgell has received the Melvin Jones Award from Lion’s Club International and the Governor General’s Canadian Caring Award. He regularly volunteers his time to help people who need assistance completing income tax returns or application forms. Over the years he has held various executive positions on denominational and nondenominational school boards. He has provided 50 years of volunteer service for the improvement of the education system in Norris Arm. Mr. Budgell is very active with the Kids Eat Smart Program and the Playground Committee, the Lewisporte Area Development Association and for the past three years served as Small Town Director with the Exploit’s Valley Economic Development Association. Mr. Budgell served as the Mayor of Norris Arm for 15 years having completed his last mayoral term in September 2009.

Boyd Cohen
Boyd Cohen is considered to be an exemplary resident of Grand Falls-Windsor. The Cohen Family has been active in the business community since Mr. Cohen’s grandfather, Simon, emigrated from England and established a general store at Grand Falls Station (which later became the Town of Windsor) in 1919. In 1953, Boyd Cohen built his first furniture store which he soon expanded, and further business growth ensued as he went on to build additional stores. In 1985, when he sold his business, there were 13 furniture stores province-wide and preparations were underway to open another three. Mr. Cohen was the driving force behind the launch of Central Cable Systems in Grand Falls-Windsor and various real estate operations. He has served as president of service clubs including the Lion’s Club and Rotary Club, and was a founding member of the Grand Falls-Windsor Chamber of Commerce. He was also president of the local Board of Trade that became the Grand Falls-Windsor Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Cohen’s commitment to the business community has garnered him several awards including induction into the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor’s Business Hall of Fame and the Junior Achievement Provincial Hall of Fame.

Gertrude Curtis
Gertrude Curtis (known to her friends as Mrs. Gertie) was born in Long Beach. Mother to 11 children when she lost her husband, Mrs. Curtis had sole responsibility for the nine children who were still living at home, the youngest of whom was only four years old. As a cancer survivor, Mrs. Curtis is an inspiration. Through the years she has been active on the Weight Watchers Committee, worked in the elementary school cafeteria, volunteered at teenage dances and for approximately 30 years, Mrs. Curtis has annually donated a graduation fruitcake to the community high school. Mrs. Curtis is a member of the New Horizons Seniors Club and a long-time member of the Trepassey Women’s Institute, holding secretary and treasurer positions. Mrs. Curtis is devoted to her church. As the Sacristan she prepares for all services and is an enthusiastic Eucharistic Minister. For 20 years Mrs. Curtis has been responsible for money raised through the parish bar/canteen, she was a housekeeper/cook at Presentation Convent. For her many years of volunteer work in the parish she was named Citizen of the Year in 2001.

James J. Farrell
Originally from Marystown, James Farrell moved to Wabush in 1964 to begin a lengthy career with Wabush Mines. He has been an active participant in the Knights of Columbus and the Masonic Lodge. Upon his retirement Mr. Farrell’s volunteer activities really began. In 1993 he was elected to the Wabush town council and appointed Deputy Mayor. From 1997 to 2009 he served as the Mayor of Wabush but in 2009, feeling it was time for a new generation to fill the mayoral chair, he voluntarily stepped aside; however, he was elected as a councillor and has served on the town council continuously since 1993. Mr. Farrell has been instrumental in spearheading many municipal achievements including, the new regional hospital scheduled to open in 2014, development of a new housing tract with 130 units, and the conversion of older apartments into a 66-unit condominium complex. Mr. Farrell has been active in a number of municipally related organizations such as the Combined Councils of Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Employee Benefits Incorporated and the Labrador Council of the Rural Secretariat. With a long history of helping those in need, Mr. Farrell's signature voluntary achievement, thus far, is as a fundraiser for the Children’s Wish Foundation in western Labrador. In 2011 the Wish Maker’s Walk for Wishes raised $205,000 – with Mr. Farrell raising one-third of that total amount. In just two years Mr. Farrell’s efforts have granted wishes to 10 deserving children.

Agnes Penney
Agnes Penney was born and raised in the Codroy Valley area. In 1970 Mrs. Penney began what turned out to be 40 years of volunteer service with the community of Irishtown (now know as Town of Irishtown-Summerside) and served on the Irishtown council as vice-chairperson. Mrs. Penney served for 29 years with the municipal council as mayor for a number of years, as well as a councillor. Mrs. Penney has served on the Irishtown Recreation Committee in various capacities including playing an instrumental role in securing grants for the community park and swimming pool. Mrs. Penney has been a dedicated member of the Hughes Brook-Irishtown-Summerside Fire Department as a firette and has held positions of secretary and vice-president. Mrs. Penney’s other activities include the St. Brendan’s Roman Catholic Church, Irishtown Seniors Club, Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Mental Health Association. A compassionate woman, Mrs. Penney and her husband brought two children with physical and cognitive challenges into their home. Mrs. Penney continued this selfless act as she provided care for her husband, who had been living with Parkinson’s disease for 17 years, until his passing.

Robert D. Snook
Robert Snook is a much respected resident of Sunnyside. He has served on the Eastern Regional Health and Community Services Board and was active in the regionalization of the health boards. Since 1969 he has been a church lay reader and sat on his parish council. Active in municipal politics, Mr. Snook has served three terms on the Sunnyside Town Council and as Mayor since 2009. There have been many achievements during his time on council including, having the town named as Top Fundraiser (for towns with a population of less than 500) in the Mayors March for Heart and Stroke; helping negotiate a grant in lieu of taxes with ExxonMobil for the Hebron construction project in Bull Arm; and working to secure Provincial Government funding for the construction of an overpass on the Trans Canada Highway for safer access. As a founding member of the Come By Chance Oil Refinery Liaison Committee, Mr. Snook works to ensure the oil refinery remains compliant in the reduction of emissions. He has served on the Selection Committee for Memorial University’s School of Medicine since 2005 to ensure that the needs of rural Newfoundland and Labrador are heard. Other community activities include the Truce Sound Committee; organizing the 400th Anniversary of John Guy’s meeting with the Beothuk, which will be celebrated in August of this year.

Augustine Stamp
Augustine Stamp is considered to be a community cornerstone in St. Vincent's and he has enjoyed a lifetime of dedicated, continuous volunteer service. Mr. Stamp is the man often behind the scenes handling the many little details to ensure that the bigger task is accomplished. He oversees the running of parish/town functions, all with a smile and a positive attitude. As a musician, dancer and comedian, Mr. Stamp is a regular performer at local concerts where he makes his accordion "sing.” He received a 20-year service award from the Department of Highways and in 1988-89 he received the Melvin Jones Award - the highest award offered by the Lions Club-for humanitarian service. Other community/committee involvement includes, 25 years of service on the Placentia St. Mary’s School Board, six years as President of the St. Vincent’s Lions Club, President of the Regatta Committee, Mayor of the St. Vincent’s Town Council for seven years, member of the Southern Avalon Development Association, and is a very active in his parish as Eucharistic Minister, Communion Minister to the sick and lay reader at mass for the past 25 years.

2012 06 29                            11:00 a.m.

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