Mayor honours local citizens who are making a difference

16th annual Mayor’s Awards presented at Awards of Excellence gala

Mayor Karen Farbridge has recognized Guelph citizens Doug Grove and Virginia Gillham for their outstanding volunteer contributions, presenting them with Mayor’s Awards at the Guelph Chamber of Commerce’s annual Awards of Excellence gala.

Doug Grove is a longstanding volunteer at Guelph Museums, River Run Centre, Canadian Council for the Blind, and Canadian National Institute for the Blind; he has also helped shape accessibility policies and programs at the City of Guelph and Guelph General Hospital. Virginia Gillham is a founding member and chair of the Friends of the Public Library, a volunteer and board member with the Guelph Youth Music Centre and a host of other local organizations, and a volunteer and mentor to young skaters in the Guelph Figure Skating Club.

Mayor Farbridge presented Doug and Virginia with pen-and-ink drawings by local artist Wayne Forest, depicting the new and old City Halls.

“It is one of the great privileges of being mayor to recognize outstanding citizens who are making a difference,” said Mayor Farbridge. “Congratulations to Doug and Virginia, two of the unsung heroes of our community.”

A summary of each honouree’s achievement is below.

[toggle title=”Doug Grove”]

Doug Grove is a familiar face to patrons at the River Run Centre, as for the past 10 years he has volunteered for the task of standing at the entrance in all kinds of weather, assisting patrons with their parking needs. He is also a familiar presence at McCrae House where, as a member of the Guelph Amateur Radio Club, he has helped set up a ham radio station every year for the past 25 years during the week of Remembrance Day. Through the radio station, and with the assistance of local school children, the club contacts people around the world with a message of peace.

Doug, who is legally blind, has also helped shape accessibility policies and programs as part of the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and its Barrier Free Committee, as well as Guelph General Hospital’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. He has volunteered with the Canadian Council of the Blind for 18 years, and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind for 25 years. He has shared information, resources, and his personal experiences with vision impairment with hundreds of people through an annual White Cane display at Stone Road Mall.

His long list of other volunteer contributions include the Guelph Emergency Communications Group,  the Royal Canadian Legion, John Galt Day and GuelphFest events,  Summer Games at University of Guelph, the Canadian Law Enforcement Games, and walk-a-thons for MS and Heart and Stroke.

Doug once told the Guelph Mercury, “There’s nothing in the world you can’t overcome.” We are fortunate that Doug has never let his vision impairment stop him from making a significant difference – whether by improving accessibility policies, helping events run smoothly, or sending a message of peace halfway around the world.

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[toggle title=”Virginia Gillham”]

In her more than 30 years as a volunteer and community leader, Virginia Gillham has made a difference to a wide range of local organizations. She has been called an inspiration, a mentor, and a fairy godmother.

As a founding member and Chair of the Friends of the Guelph Public Library, Virginia has been a tireless advocate and fundraiser for the library, including leading the popular annual book sale that the Friends of the GPL has held since 2008. The Friends have raised more than $100,000 to support the work of the Guelph Public Library.

Virginia and her husband Robert were members of the original Planning Committee for the Guelph Youth Music Centre, and both went on to become founding Board members for 14 years. Without Virginia and Robert’s personal commitment, it is likely there would not be a Youth Music Centre in Guelph today.

As a highly respected Skate Canada National judge and referee, Virginia has offered her time and expertise to mentor members of the Guelph Figure Skating Club, even making herself available for 6 a.m. practices.

Over the years, Virginia has served on a long list of local boards and committees, including the Edward Johnson Music Foundation/ Guelph Spring Festival board; the University of Guelph’s United Way steering committee; the services committee of Wellington County Family and Children’s Services; and the Wellington-Dufferin Homes for Psychiatric Rehabilitation board. She currently serves on the nominating committee of the Guelph Chapter of the Federation of University Women, and is also Board Chair and church librarian at St. Andrew’s Church in Guelph.
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