Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins and his brother Andrew Hutchins were two of 75 British Columbians recognized by B.C. Premier Christy Clark at a ceremony hosted at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Premier Clark awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals (QE2 medals) to the Hutchins brothers and their fellow recipients “in recognition of their service to their fellow citizens,” stated a government press release. The awards ceremony was intended to celebrate the accomplishments of individuals in the fields of business, public service, law enforcement, education, sports and volunteerism.
Hutchins first learned of his award January 27 when a package containing a medal, an official certificate and a message from Governor General David Johnston arrived at his office, he wrote.
“It was both a surprise and a mystery,” Hutchins added, “as there was no indication of the nominee.”
Two days later, Hutchins received an email from Karen Leibovici, an Edmonton city councilor and the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) informing him of the fact that FCM had selected him for the award.
“Mystery solved,” Hutchins added.
In her January 29 email, Leibovici wrote: “FCM chose you to receive this distinction for your exemplary efforts to make your community a great place to live…We sincerely appreciate your municipality’s affiliation with FCM, and its support of strong communities and good government.”
Hutchins said he was pondering over what to do next when he shared the news with one of his children. As the news trickled through the family grapevine, it was revealed that Hutchins’ brother Andrew ― a director at the Cowichan Sportsplex in Duncan ― had also been nominated for a QE2 medal and was due to receive his at a ceremony presided over by Premier Clark Feb. 26.
“It appeared that it was unusual that two siblings received the medal and we wanted to share the occasion,” Hutchins wrote. “I contacted the Provincial Protocol office and asked if I could join the ceremony…and the pictures show the outcome.”
Andrew Hutchins earned his nod for a lengthy service career. Via email, Andrew wrote: “I have been a member of the Maple Bay Fire Dept for 41 years with 22 of those years as chief. I also helped found the Maple Bay Rowing Club in 1975. I am on the Sportsplex Board as well as Kidsport.”
A spokesperson with the FCM’s head office in Ottawa said 4,000 of the 60,000 medals minted to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne were allocated by the federal government to the FCM. The FCM, in turn, distributed those 4,000 medals to 3,800 municipalities across the country.
“The vast majority of our medals were allocated through municipal governments to recognize local people for their merit and their contributions,” the spokesperson said.
The remaining medals were reserved for mayors and heads of council from communities whose municipal governments had been active with the FCM for five years or more, the spokesperson added.