Carleton-Victoria residents honoured with QEII Platinum Jubilee Medals

by | Oct 23, 2022

“You are all changemakers”

With some help from New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor Brenda Murphy, Carleton-Victoria MLA Margaret Johnson recognized people who have made significant contributions to communities in her riding. The two women awarded Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medals to a varied group of people at the Perth-Andover Legion on Sunday, Oct. 23.

“We’re gathered here to recognize 18 exceptional individuals who have given their time, talent, and service to their communities, our province, and our country,” said Johnson as she officially welcomed guests.

“The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal program is intended to commemorate the Queen’s lifelong service to Canada while recognizing the New Brunswick residents who’ve made significant contributions to the province, a particular region, community, or field,” said Lt. Gov. Murphy. “You are all changemakers, and you’re being awarded platinum jubilee medals for your dedication towards improving the lives of fellow New Brunswickers.”

“Today’s medal recipients lead rather than wait to be led,” said MLA Johnson. “They tackle challenges head-on; they see problems as opportunities instead of obstacles.”

Centerville’s Barb Dingee was recognized for her 35 years of teaching, community volunteerism, and contributions to local theatre.
Dingee was already involved in the Centreville Community Theatre group when she was inspired by fellow teacher and playwright, the late Weldon Matthews.
“After I finished my degrees, he inspired me because he was writing and directing plays at the high school. I wanted to do that with my (middle school) kids. He inspired me to start my own (student) club,” said Dingee.

Dingee remembers the 1989/90 school year when she and Matthews worked on plays together. Dingee juggled two community theatre projects, a school drama club production, two Christmas plays (one at her church and the other with her students) and a Drama Fest performance.

“It was a busy time, but this guy right here,” said Dingee, pointing to her husband Brian, “he was a major help because he built sets for me, for our community theatre, for our school. I think before I even knew him, he had built sets for Weldon when he was a teacher in Bath.”

Barb’s involvement in drama turned into a family pastime. While Brian continued to build sets, their children, Derek (now a teacher at Carleton North), Ashley (an ER nurse studying to become a Nurse Practioner), Jennifer (a teacher at Woodstock High School), and Deidre (a teacher in Dryden, ON) were either hanging out backstage during dress rehearsals or, when they were old enough, performing in the productions.

“This is great,” said daughter Ashley, who was excited to see her mother honoured.
“It’s well deserved,” said son Derek, who also attended. “She’s spent so much time on this over the years. She’s motivated me.”

Harold ‘Short’ Evans was awarded Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Platinum Jubilee medal for his work in oral history, his contributions as a teacher, his work with St. John Ambulance, and working with numerous community boards.

Danny Braun was recognized for his work in establishing and running the World Pond Hockey Championships in Plaster Rock. What first began as a gathering to raise money for a new rink has evolved into an international Mecca for hockey purists.

Ann Marie Feeney was awarded the QEII Platinum Jubilee Medal for her contributions to St. Leo’s Catholic Church, her work with Meals on Wheels, and feeding those in need during the pandemic. She and her husband, Brian Feeney, own and operate the Diner Down Under in Bath.

“When I visited her to tell her she’d been nominated for this award,” said Johnson, “she replied, “it was just the right thing to do.” Your community thanks you, Ann Marie Feeney, for doing the right thing.”

RCMP officer Kent Allen from the Florenceville-Bristol detachment was recognized for his work as a first responder.

Vernon Thomas was honoured for his work volunteering with local organizations. As a former accountant with McCain Foods, Thomas offers financial services to a few not-for-profits in the region.
“He also coaches, refs, fundraises, and mentors…Vernon, the bottom line is that you are valued beyond measure in your community, and it is with great pleasure I present you with the QEII Platinum Jubilee medal,” said Johnson.

Sheila Cummings of Perth-Andover was recognized for her work as an elementary school teacher and her volunteer work in her retirement. Cummings is a village councillor and was instrumental in coordinating the COVID response in her community. She also provides transportation support to those who need it and advocates for those in need.

First responders were at the core of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal ceremonies. Keith Kinney was honoured for his service to the community as a first responder in Perth-Andover. With 38 years of service, this long-time employee of McAsphalt was recognized for his selfless service to his community as a first responder who was injured in the line of duty a few years ago.

Gailen Allan was honoured for his community service in multiple areas.
“There is nary a United church or agricultural board that Gailen Allan has not served on,” said MLA Johnson. “Young people from Knowlesville to Bristol know him as the guy who pulls up in the big yellow bus every morning and drops them safely off at night. On top of working with his brother and nephew on the family farm and the various organizations he contributes to, Gailen has been an active member of the Glassville Fire Department for 40 years.”

Rick Allan was recognized for his work with recreation in the Carleton North region, for his work in farming, and for serving on the Glassville Fire Department for 40 years.
“Rick, today we thank you for your service to your industry, our youth and your community,” said Johnson.

Geary Davenport was honoured posthumously with the QEII Platinum Jubilee Medal. His wife of 54 years, Judy, accepted the honour on his behalf.
“After 30 years working at the Irving Tree Nursery, he was thrilled to retire and have the time to spend with his family. Geary was a gardener, a fixer and a putter-er. He always had a project on the go and delighted in helping others out,” said Johnson.
Davenport was a 40-year member of the Glassville Fire Department. He died on May 10, 2022.

Paul Demerchant was recognized for his work as a community historian, his devotion to his church, and his commitment as a first responder. Demerchant has served as a member of the Florenceville-Bristol Fire Department for 63 years.

Kathleen Simonson was honoured with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for her community volunteerism, which includes her church, the Elks Club, and being there for all organizations in Centreville that need a helping hand.

“Kathy has the energy to rival the Energizer bunny,” said Johnson. “If the Chamber of Commerce is organizing an event, Kathy’s rolling up her sleeves to assist. If there’s a community meal Kathy’s involved. Like many today, Kathleen Simonson sees a need, and she answers a call.”

Beatrice Gray was recognized for her work in and around Plaster Rock as a well-loved nurse at the Tobique Health Centre and as a volunteer.

Don Green was recognized for his work in building New Brunswick’s only fire truck fabrication plant – Metalfab in Centreville.
“When Don opened his machine shop in 1967, he planted the seed of a facility which would 55 years later become the pre-eminent supplier of fire trucks to central and eastern Canada and New England,” said Johnson.

“Don has been a lifelong contributor to his community,” said Johnson. “He has served on the board of the hospital, the school board, and the board of Riverview Manor, to name just a few. He has been an active member of The Florenceville Rotary Club, was named Entrepreneur of the Year and is a charter member of the Centreville Legion, where he remains one of the last veterans who served during the Second World War.”

Former Victoria-Tobique MLA Wes McLean was honoured with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for his grassroots political work.

“As a teenage boy Wes McLean had a proclivity for engaging in deep political discussions,” said Johnson. “He would be seen head to head with people many years his senior, and he was a sponge for all things political. Fast forward, and at the ripe old age of 29, Wes was elected to the New Brunswick Legislature.”

McLean is a former Deputy Chief of Staff to the Premier, a former legislative assistant to Noël Kinsella, a former assistant to Premier Brian Palliser in Manitoba, and has worked with Veterans Affairs.

Rod MacIntosh was recognized for his work over the last 20 years organizing the Perth-Andover Gathering of the Scots.

“From those meagre beginnings with a $2,000 budget, Rod MacIntosh has led the charge in creating a festival which celebrates all things Scottish, from whiskey tasting to caber tossing and falconry,” said Johnson. “Not even a pandemic could hold back Rod’s passion for putting on the games. Two years ago, they held an abbreviated, socially distant outdoor event, and this past spring, it was thrilling to see the clan banners parading onto veterans field again.”
Other recipients who were not in attendance are Plaster Rock resident and 38-year veteran firefighter Mitchell Hollins, Neqotkuk Chief Ross Perley, Centreville veteran firefighter James Wright. and Bath Fire Chief Stephen Armour. Those recipients will be presented with their medals at separate ceremonies.
Earlier this year, the federal government opted out of offering commemorative medals to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. Shortly after that announcement, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba decided to provide their own medals to residents.
In New Brunswick, 3,000 medals will be awarded to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952.
Nominations for these awards did not come from the public at large.

“Only identified partners can submit nominations,” notes the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Platinum Jubilee Medal page on the Government of New Brunswick website. “Identified partners include, but are not limited to, MLAs, MPs, and Senators.”
The list of recipients was approved by Governor-in-Council, which includes the provincial Cabinet and the Lieutenant Governor.

PHOTOS by Theresa Blackburn

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