A gala filled with firsts

Thomp­sons, An­drew Melch­ers hon­oured

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - NEWS - RON­ALD ZA­JAC

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.

RON­ALD ZA­JAC/THE RECORDER AND TIMES

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.

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