Andrew Thompson thought two friends were coming over to see his public speaking trophy.
Then they asked for his autograph.
To his surprise, the form he was asked to sign was to accept another award – Pitt Meadows Citizen of the Year 2016.
“I was quite surprised,” Thompson said of when informed by Michael Hayes and Gwen O’Connell, of the Pitt Meadows Community Foundation.
Thompson recently won the district public speaking award for the local Toastmasters chapter, qualifying to compete at the world championships in Washington, D.C., Aug. 17-20.
The speech had to be on an inspirational topic and five to seven minutes long, no more, no less.
The judging criteria included vocal variety and gestures, how he relates to the audience and his ability to inspire.
Thompson spoke about forgiveness. He told a story about his mother, forgiving her for passing, leaving him and his two brothers behind, moving forward, and what forgiveness can do.
She died when he was seven.
“Many, many years ago.”
Thompson is 53 now. He has lived in Pitt Meadows for 19 years, since his biological daughter Christine was two.
She is now 21, a former Lynn Papp Award winner and one of the 100 Pitt Meadows citizens of the century picked in 2014 as part of its centennial celebration.
Thompson and his wife Sheryl, a Girl Guide leader for 12 years, have been foster parents for 26. In that time, they have taken in more than 100 children.
“We lost count at over 100,” Andrew Thompson said.
Some were only with them for days, others for years.
Thompson said they try to take in long-term kids and siblings, two or more.
The work involves dealing with all sorts of professionals, from ministry staff to speech therapists, counsellors, social and resource workers, pediatricians.
It’s rewarding work, Thompson said.
“I wouldn’t keep doing it if it wasn’t.”
Thompson ran for Pitt Meadows council in 2014 and also found that a rewarding and eye-opening experience.
There is more to running a community – dealing with taxes and bylaws, even streams – than most people know, he said, and the learning curve is steep.
“It was a great experience to see what there is to learn and what they have to deal with on a daily basis.”
He would consider running again.
In the meantime, Thompson will be honoured as Citizen of the Year on Pitt Meadows Day, Saturday, June 4.
He doesn’t know who nominated him, but is proud to have been selected given the calibre of people who have won the award before him.
The Citizen of the Year is presented annually to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to the community through volunteer work, community leadership and active community involvement. The Pitt Meadows Community Foundation solicits nominations, evaluates and presents the award.
Thompson was previously a director with the community foundation, as well as master of ceremonies at Pitt Meadows Day, and is in charge of food and beverages for a Pitt Meadows Christmas – securing hot dogs, hot chocolate and cookies. His wife if also a volunteer with the Christmas celebration, as well as the disability games in Pitt Meadows and the shoreline clean-up.
“She is my inspiration, and our children, to volunteer more in the community,” said Thompson, who has also been a Scouts and Cubs leader in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, as well as a volunteer with the Friends in Need Food Bank. And last year, he taught an effective speaking program for air cadets in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Thompson is proud to call Pitt Meadows home.
“It’s a beautiful community. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” he said.
“It’s a great place to raise kids, too.”
An award-winning children’s musician will be starting off the entertainment on the Main Stage for Pitt Meadows Day.
Will Stroet sings in both English and French and inspires children to be active, healthy, creative and engaged in the world through his music.
He has five albums out that have received international recognition, including a 2011 Kids Music Award, a 2011 West Coast Songwriters Award and multiple nominations from the Western Canadian Music Awards.
Stroet has performed at more than 1,000 shows across the country and stars in a pre-school television series that airs on CBC, called Will’s Jams.
Does Your Monkey Bite? will take to the stage next. The band has been entertaining western Canada for over 20 years, performing disco, rock, ’80s, new country, chart toppers and everything in between.
Headlining the stage will be country singer and songwriter DaniElle, who was born and raised in Pitt Meadows.
Most recently she won the grand prize of $10,000 in the Chevy Tailgate contest hosted by Country Music Television Canada and was selected as a finalist in the CCMA Discovery Program.
Currently, she is working on her debut EP with fellow musician Dan Swinimer.
Pitt Meadows Day events
Schedule of events for Saturday.
• 7-10 a.m.: Bring your whole family to enjoy pancakes at the Pitt Meadows Lions Breakfast at Heritage Hall: $4/ adult, $2/ children 12 and under.
• 9- 10:30 a.m.: Parade participants check-in
• 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.: The parade starts at Blakely and Hammond roads, goes west on Hammond and north on Harris Road to end at the Harris Road Park (watch for road closures).
• 12-5 p.m.: Free activities at Harris park, including sports activities, bouncy castles, rock wall climbing, and stage entertainment.
• 1:30 p.m.: Opening Ceremonies, crowning of Miss Pitt Meadows and the Royal Party, Pitt Meadows Foundation Citizen of the Year recognition and Lynn Papp awards at the Centennial Stage in Harris Road Park.
• 12-7 p.m.: Centennial Stage at Harris Road Park featuring free concerts by local performers.
• 2 p.m.: Youth Scooter Contest at the Youth Action Park, open to ages 13-18. Register on-site.
• 5-7:00 p.m.: “World Famous in Pitt Meadows” salmon and chicken barbeque dinners in Heritage Hall. The Pitt Meadows fire department has been preparing and cooking the salmon for at least 40 years; $10/ plate.
• 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Family dance at Heritage Hall. Everyone is welcome to join; many family favourites, including the chicken dance, the Macarena, and YMCA.
• After sunset: Gather at the Pitt Meadows Athletic Park (South Bonson and Airport Way) for fireworks, put on by the Pitt Meadows fire department.