“I didn’t expect it at all.”
So says Clinton’s Robin Fennell, of the phone call he received from a woman at the B.C. Achievement Foundation. She was phoning to inform the long-time volunteer that he was one of 30 recipients of the 2016 B.C. Community Achievement Awards.
The award was announced at the end of April, and Fennell said he had no idea he had even been nominated until he found out he’d won. “I understand Jim Rivett had a lot to do with the nomination.”
The Clinton mayor downplays his part in the process. “I saw a bulletin from the government about the award, and when I read what it was for I thought Robin would be a perfect fit.”
The award “recognizes and celebrates the spirit, imagination, dedication, and contribution of British Columbians to their communities”. Rivett says that while council made the motion to nominate him, there were a lot of people involved with providing support for the nomination, many from organizations that Fennell has been involved with over the decades.
These include Integris Credit Union, of which he has been a director for a number of years; the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, from which he recently retired after 30 years (“I can’t run fast enough anymore,” he laughs); the Clinton and District Outdoor Sportsman Association; the South Cariboo Historical Museum Society (“I help out when I can”); the Clinton Legion; the Clinton Community Woodlot Association; and more.
Fennell says that being on the board of directors for Integris is closest to his heart. “They do a lot for the community; they’re here for the community. When the Bank of Montreal left Clinton 15 years ago, the Quesnel and District Credit Union—as Integris was then—stepped in. It’s very important for a small community to keep a financial institution.”
He says he had to keep the news of the award to himself for a few days, until the official announcement was made. Rivett laughs when he hears this. “We had to make the nomination and then gather support for it more than a year ago, without letting Robin know,” he says. “It was quite something to keep people quiet about it.
“I’m very happy he’s getting it,” the mayor continues. “He was an excellent person to nominate, and the fact that lots of people were more than willing to help support the nomination shows how deserving he is.”
Fennell says he’s looking forward to the official ceremony at Government House in Victoria on May 25, when he will receive a certificate and medallion from Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon. He’s also interested in meeting some of his fellow award-winners, particularly “Oyster Jim” Martin from Ucluelet.
While acknowledging that he doesn’t do what he does with awards in mind, he does volunteer a fair bit, so “it’s nice to be recognized when something like this comes along.” Rivett says that Fennell is still giving back to the community, and the award is recognition of that.
“It’s a tribute to all that he’s done.”