Gala celebrates Service on the Sea
By Paul Gowan
A unique set of awards was handed out in October in Vancouver, with the
Disabled Sailing Association the beneficiary. The first-ever Service on
the Sea awards, held at the Sheraton Wall Centre on October 16, honoured
individuals demonstrating extraordinary commitment to B.C.'s marine
The awards were launched this year by B.C.'s
Pacific Yachting Magazine with aid from a variety of sponsors. They
recognized outstanding contribution in four categories: heroism,
environmental contribution, long-time service, and creativity and
In addition, DSA presented it's own award,
Commodore of the Year, to one of its own: disabled sailor and retired
Air Force veteran John Lyons of White Rock. DSA honoured Lyons for his
exemplary spirit and his contribution to improving opportunities for
people who would otherwise have limited access to sailing.
In two short summers since donning sailing gear,
Lyons has been a constant source of support and guidance to others, in
addition to developing the skills to sail solo.
"I've learned a lot of things and met a lot
of great people," Lyons says of his experiences. He enjoys teaching
others the sport or just taking them out for a little sun and a ride.
Lyons, a quadriplegic, first injured his back
more than 40 years ago during a rough airplane landing while serving as
a radio navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Later, as an Air
Force reservist, he suffered further spinal damage when a jeep in which
he was riding overturned. Within the last 10 years, doctors have been
able to insert titanium rods in his back, giving him some limited
Other award winners spanned the marine
community. Retired lighthouse keepers Ed and Pat Kidder, lately of
Qualicum Beach, but formerly keepers for 34 years of the lighthouse on
remote Nootka Sound off Vancouver Island, were recognized for their
long-time marine service. Though by nature private people, Ed and Pat
occasionally faced the glare of publicity as principal spokespersons
defending the invaluable work performed by lighthouse keepers across the
province and across the country.
Sharing long-time service recognition with the
Kidders was Surrey's Don Rose, a towboat captain on the largest tug on
the West Coast of Canada, and a B.C. Rivtow Marine employee for 38
Rose says of his profession: "If you don't
like it, you'll be miserable." Rose and his tugboat crew spend most
of their time hauling barges on long trips up and down the Coast. While
on duty they live on the tug and operate continuously. Rose, 59, tried a
shore job once but didn't warm up to the 9-5 routine.
The award for heroism went to a team, rather
than an individual. For their courageous volunteer service, the Canadian
Coast Guard Auxiliary, Pacific Region garnered this honour. The
auxiliary, with 1,400 volunteers and 53 units in B.C. and the Yukon,
responds to an average of three incidents a day and 1,000 a year in
support of the regular Canadian Coast Guard.
Sabine Jessen of North Vancouver, a tireless
worker and champion of ocean conservation and an unbending advocate for
special Canadian marine protected areas, picked up an award for her
environmental contribution to B.C. waters.
The creativity and innovation award went to Phil
Nuytten, also of North Vancouver. The B.C.-born-and-bred technological
pioneer, responsible for several creations that have put B.C. on the
world's underwater map, has been consulted by organizations such as the
Canadian Space Agency and NASA, among others.
For more information on Service on the Sea or
DSA, visit www.disabilityfoundation.org/dsa,
or phone 604-688-6464.