Spe­cial recog­ni­tion

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY SAM MCNEISH THE TELE­GRAM Info@gan­der­bea­con.ca

2017 Se­niors of Distinc­tion award for Der­mot (Derm) Flynn.

Mak­ing the world a bet­ter place.

That broad state­ment gets broader when you dis­cuss the con­tri­bu­tions five in­di­vid­u­als have made to their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties and all the peo­ple they have touched along the way.

In fact, the changes these in­di­vid­u­als made have a global ef­fect that reaches out­side the bor­ders of New­found­land and Labrador, and it was these ac­com­plish­ments they were hon­oured for Oct. 3 as the 2017 Se­niors of Distinc­tion Awards win­ners at a cer­e­mony held at the Cap­i­tal Ho­tel in St. John’s.

This year’s re­cip­i­ents are Mar­garet Bur­den of Port Hope Simp­son, Au­gus­tine (Gus) Etchegary of Por­tu­gal Cove-St. Philip’s, Der­mot (Derm) Flynn of Ap­ple­ton, Leonard (Len) Simms of St. John’s and Willis Why­att of St. Carol’s.

Be it through lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams and coach­ing teams such as Bur­den has done, play­ing a song to se­niors as Why­att con­tin­ues to do, delv­ing into the fish­ery for seven decades like Etchegary or be­ing a politi­cian like Simms and Flynn, they have all made last­ing con­tri­bu­tions.

Flynn even gets a men­tion un­der the mar­quee on Broad­way as a char­ac­ter in “Come From Away” on a nightly ba­sis.

The awards pro­gram was de­signed to iden­tify and cel­e­brate the con­tri­bu­tions, achieve­ments and di­ver­sity of older per­sons through­out New­found­land and Labrador.

Min­is­ter of Chil­dren, Se­niors

and So­cial Devel­op­ment Lisa Demp­ster was on hand to make the pre­sen­ta­tions.

“There are so many ways you have given to build your com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies,” Demp­ster said.

“It has shaped our prov­ince and the lives of those around you.”

Each of the re­cip­i­ents has a truck full of sto­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences, but the mes­sage comes back to what is at the heart of New­found­land cul­ture — giv­ing.

“You are not one per­son in this world. You al­ways have to help those less for­tu­nate,” Bur­den said.

“It is im­por­tant we do what­ever we can to help those less for­tu­nate and need our help,” she added.

Bur­den said she is not im­mune to fail­ures and rough patches in her life. But it was

her per­se­ver­ance that al­lowed her to over­come it.

“I have fallen, but have al­ways got­ten back up. I have had a lot of bruises,” she said.

Put in his pa­pers

Flynn, who has spent time in a mul­ti­tude of com­mu­ni­ties in both New­found­land and Labrador, has been a mem­ber of the Ap­ple­ton town coun­cil for the past 24 years.

Oct. 3 marked his last day in of­fice, as a new mayor was sworn in at coun­cil that night.

“With the events we have seen un­fold in the last 24 hours and the re­cent storms peo­ple have suf­fered through re­cently down south, how gifted are we to live in a beau­ti­ful coun­try and prov­ince as this one?” he said.

He said he en­joyed his time as mayor of Ap­ple­ton and gave credit to the com­mu­nity of Wabush for al­low­ing him to get in­volved in so­cial is­sues and find a way to make a dif­fer­ence.

On a day when he was hon­oured twice, as mayor and as a se­nior awards win­ner, he was quick to de­flect the at­ten­tion.

“I sent a let­ter out to con­stituents that said I con­sider all se­niors to be se­niors of distinc­tion … and I mean that,” he said.

Simms said he did some re­search about the peo­ple who have won the Se­niors of Distinc­tion Awards in the past and called it hum­bling to be as­so­ci­ated with that list of peo­ple.

He also said he is proud to be as­so­ci­ated with the 2017 list of re­cip­i­ents.

“I spent a 20-year ca­reer in pol­i­tics and re­tired 20 years ago. I was never one to look for ac­co­lades … well, maybe when I was in of­fice … but I will cher­ish this one for­ever,” Simms said.

And like a story as old as time, mu­sic has al­ways found a way

to touch peo­ple’s lives.

Why­att has per­formed his songs for peo­ple of this prov­ince for 32 years and wants to share his sto­ries with res­i­dents ev­ery­where. In fact, he just re­leased his first al­bum in an at­tempt to do so.

“I have been per­form­ing for decades and I see how mu­sic moves peo­ple,” he said.

“There was a lady in a wheel­chair at a se­niors’ home that had to be wheeled in to see the per­for­mance. When I started to sing, she got up, wrapped her arms around me and stayed there un­til I fin­ished.”

On an­other oc­ca­sion, he said to one of his band mates in the Pumper Boys, “We’re not do­ing too bad.”

His band mate re­sponded by say­ing, “You are right, we got one old feller put to sleep.”

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