Two Brandonites are being recognized for their lifetime of community work by the Queen herself.
Don Berry and Margaret Wedgewood will each receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal from Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Merv Tweed when the city holds its Canada Day celebrations at the Riverbank Discovery Centre on Sunday.
“I’m delighted to say the least, it’s always an honour to be recognized,” Berry said.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne as Queen of Canada and the Diamond Jubilee Medal was created to mark the historic event and honour Canadians’ significant contributions and achievements.
Berry has made more than one significant contribution to his Brandon community, even after retiring from a 35-year teaching career in 1999.
“I had made the decision I just wanted to work,” Berry said.
Most recently, the energetic retiree has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Brandon — working for free 70 days a year — on the Massey Manor housing project.
This past week, the Brandon Sun reported the local Habitat office was to close on Friday and responsibilities will be assumed by the Winnipeg and national office.
“It was a sad day when we heard that because we’re almost finished,” he said. “Ten of us have been working together there for four years, but I’m not discouraged — we’ll be back to volunteer soon.”
Berry has taken on numerous presidencies and board director positions in the community, ranging from work in his church, local museums, Manitoba Corps Commissionaires and other military associations.
In 1970, Berry moved from Virden to Brandon after joining the 12 Manitoba Dragoons — a Canadian Forces Reserve unit — when he was 16.
He then transferred to the 26th Field Regiment and served 38 years with the Forces, finishing his military career with the rank of colonel.
For his civilian job as a teacher, Berry kept his rural Manitoba roots by teaching in Pipestone and later moving on as principal of O’Kelly School at CFB Shilo.
The 71-year-old has donated blood 94 times and hopes to reach the big 100 soon — with doctor’s permission, of course.
But before then, the retiree is looking forward to joining other members of the Brandon Veteran’s Memorial Committee to see the monument erected in front of the new Brandon Police Service station in June 2013.
The memorial also holds special meaning for Wedgewood, who has worked with the Army Navy Air Force Veterans’ (Anavets) Association for more than 24 years.
“You get to know the people and do what you can,” said Wedgewood, who knows all members of the association by name. Anavets creates a supportive community for veterans, helping them with day-to-day activities and providing them with opportunities to socialize.
“We have a lot of veterans’ functions and I get to know the old veterans and the young,” Wedgewood said, adding one misconception she hears is that all veterans are elderly.
“We have 19-year-olds in Shilo who have gone to war and back,” she said.
“Some tend to think of the Second World War as having veterans, but there’s been a lot of turmoil in the world since then.”
Wedgewood grew up in Rivers and moved to Brandon in 1987, taking her first job out of college with Anavets.
“Brandon is a wonderful community. I enjoy that it’s a city and has a small town atmosphere,” she said.
The recipient said she feels “honoured” by the award and appreciates the recognition.
“To get it on Canada Day is extra special because of the work I do with veterans. It’s an important day for them,” Wedgewood said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 30, 2012