A gala filled with firsts
Thompsons, Andrew Melchers honoured
Any given Awards of Excellence gala will have its firsts and its lasts.
And on Thursday night, one definite gala last was an address by David Henderson in his capacity as Brockville mayor.
Henderson, who did not seek reelection in last month’s municipal ballot, was a little over three weeks away from relinquishing the chain and gavel as he spoke to the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce’s gala, and while his speech praised the community’s energy, it also had the markings of a valedictory address.
“Yes, like every community, we go through our ups and downs, and right now we’ re on an up ,” Henderson told the crowd, adding employers are finding it difficult to fill positions.
But the upward motion depends not just on economic forces, but also on the community’s members, said the mayor.
“Not every community gets lifted by the rising tide. In this community, we do and it’s because of you,” added Henderson.
“It’s been one of the best communities that you could be mayor of.”
There were also a few firsts, both solemn and less serious.
This was, of course, the first time the President’s Award was presented posthumously, to the family of Gord Brown to honour the late MP’s legacy.
On a decidedly less weighty note, this may have been the first time a Citizen of the Year was piped to the stage.
Dan Thompson, owner of the Keystorm Pub, made his way up to the strains of Scotland the Brave, played by Police Chief Scott Fraser, and he danced on stage with presenter Keeley Patterson of O’Farrell Financial Services.
“Without the volunteerism in the community, we don’t do the great things that we’ve done,” said Thompson.
He also thanked family and friends, and jokingly attributed an important life lesson to his grandmother.
“She taught me that good was the Montreal Canadiens and bad was the Boston Bruins,” he quipped.
And Thompson praised the community spirit that has resulted in such things as Brockville Railway Tunnel and the west-end Rotary rink.
“It’s all about building community assets,” he said.
“It’s all about making our community better so we can thrive into the future.”
And in yet another first, two unrelated Thompsons working the same building were joined by a third award winner from that same block.
Rob Thompson, who is building a boutique hotel partly in the building that includes the Keystorm, is the 2018 Business Person of the Year, while the title of Small Business of the Year went to Dave Shaw’s Alan Brown’s clothing store.
“We’ve decided to ask Dave Shaw if he wants to become a Thompson,” Rob Thompson joked.
Rob Thompson’s acceptance speech had the makings of an elaborate rags-to-riches story beginning with his purchase, at age 20, of a pizza restaurant in Keswick, on the south shore of Lake Simcoe.
But in perhaps yet another first, Thompson cut his story short in the early 1990s after some promptings by MC Bruce Wylie and the shouts of a lubricated heckler.
Andrew Melchers is the Young Professional of the Year. He expressed his gratitude to the Brockville Rifles, where he is a second lieutenant, as well as his family and in particular his wife, Amber.
Melchers, 31, is a professional engineer.
“She does way more at home than I do at my desk and really, without her support, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Melchers.
Citizen of the Year Dan Thompson thanks the crowd during the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce's Awards of Excellence gala on Thursday night.