Crook wins Citizen of the Year

Lillian Crook, holding art by Diamond Jenness Secondary School student Jackie Strong, gives a speech after being named Alfred Mansell Citizen of the Year for 2012.
— Myles Dolphin/NNSL photo

Minutes after winning the Alfred Mansell Citizen of the Year Award for 2012, Lillian Crook went right back to what she does best – helping out. She wasted no time in resuming her rounds and picking up empty plastic glasses from tables.
The tireless Crook, who describes the recognition as “overwhelming,” was presented with the award by the person who nominated her, close friend (and last year’s winner) Georgina Bassett.
“I’ve known Lillian forever and I’ve come to know what type of person she is,” Bassett said. “She is the kindest person you can get to know, willing to do anything for anyone. When I decided to nominate her for the award, I was thinking about all her accomplishments in the community, especially in the last little while with the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities.”
Crook’s work with the committee stems from a strong desire to provide services and programs to Hay Riverites with disabilities.
“It’s a big challenge for someone to take on, especially someone who is retired from their government job,” Bassett said. “She is a modest person, but it’s people like her who deserve to be recognized for the things they do.”
Bassett and Crook used to be on the same bowling team and would often travel to competitions together. Nowadays they both volunteer at the Hay River Thrift Shop.
Crook, who was visibly surprised when she accepted her award, said people don’t often realize the amount of support those in the limelight receive.
“A lot of the times the people whose names appear in the paper are helped by so many people who are making us look good!” she said.
“It’s such an honour to receive this from your community. We do things because it’s something we love to do, and to be recognized for doing something I love is just overwhelming.
“It’s a very humbling experience to receive this award, but there are a lot of people in this community who are just as worthy of this award as I am.”
Steve Campbell, who works at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre, was the Customer Service Excellence Award winner for 2012. He is was nominated by Heather Coakwell, who read a passionate statement about her friend’s involvement in her life, and in the life of her kids.
“Having kids who are involved in so many activities at the recreation centre, I come across this person all the time,” she said of Campbell.
“I am never worried about leaving my kids there with him, and almost feel silly to ask if I can. He always knows how my daughters are progressing in their activities.
“On Valentine’s Day, we knew we had to save a valentine for him.”
Campbell, who was also visibly overwhelmed by the award, said he started recognizing himself as Coakwell was giving her speech. They hugged before walking off stage.
The gala also featured presentations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals to nine recipients: Pat Bobinski, Andrew Cassidy, Darm Crook, Paul Delorey, Brendan Green, Vicky Latour, Joe McBryan (Buffalo Joe), Ross Potter and Jill Taylor.
Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister David Ramsay, who gave the opening speech, praised Hay River for its entrepreneurial spirit and commended the town for having so many successful businesses.

— Myles Dolphin