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Local Women's Institute honours 'remarkable' efforts of volunteers

Leila Lloyd, Grace Elliott, Shirley Brown, Dianne van Voorst and Alice Lloyd were celebrated for their contributions to the Women’s Institute and Bradford West Gwillimbury

The Bond Head Women’s Institute honoured five of the most prolific members in its 103-year history on Monday. Combined, they have more than 250 years of volunteerism.

Leila Lloyd, Grace Elliott, Shirley Brown, Dianne van Voorst and Alice Lloyd were celebrated for their contributions to both the Bond Head Women’s Institute and Bradford West Gwillimbury as a whole.

“Today I’m honoured to stand here with you to reflect on the years of service by our five amazing women,” said Liz Moore, President of the Bond Head Women’s Institute.

“Their passion, devotion, commitment, and focus to foster a stronger, healthier, and more vibrant community in Bradford West Gwillimbury is exceptional.”

Lloyd has served for 63 years, Elliott for 65 years, Brown for 64 years, van Voorst for 25 years, and Lloyd for 65 years. In that time Lloyd held the position of president for more than 25 years, while Elliott was secretary for more than 25 years, and van Voorst served as treasurer for 25 years.

“That’s just remarkable. I’ve had the pleasure of working with you for many years and your passion and enthusiasm to ensure this branch continues to make a meaningful impact is obvious, intentional, and appreciated," said Moore.

"I’ve always felt your guiding hand and your interest in moving forward in a progressive and involved manner. Martin Luther King once said, ‘volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.’ Leila, Grace, Shirley, Dianne, and Alice, your volunteering has definitely been a strong vote towards an enriched, healthy, and vibrant community," said Moore.

The core values of the women’s institute are developing and honing leadership, contributing to the community, educating on the history of the community, inspiring those in the community, and advocating on behalf of the community.

“At the heart of volunteering is to know that we have touched lives in a small way,” said Moore. “Leila, Grace, Shirley, Dianne, and Alice, you have made a huge difference in our community. Today, we celebrate your ripple of kindness for over 60 years. You’ve always found the energy to do more and give in ways that make a difference. We’ll forever remember you and your contributions, for you have made a difference.”

Each of the five women received certificates signed by Premier Doug Ford for their contributions to the community. 

“Your commitment and hard work have helped to build a better Ontario,” the certificate read. “I wish you all the best.”

Among those in attendance were Federated Women’s Institute of Ontario President Michelle Phillippi, President-Elect Linda Zelem, and Simcoe area rep Twyla Banbury-Campbell.

“From my heart, I know the dedication you’ve shown for over 60 years,” said Phillippi. “It’s amazing and I’m honoured to be in your presence. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

“Your community is much richer because of the things you’ve done for your community,” added Banbury-Campbell. “This is a sisterhood and thank you for all you’ve done.”

Also in attendance were Mayor James Leduc and councillors Cheraldean Duhaney, Jonathan Scott, Ben Verkaik, Peter Ferragine, and Peter Dykie to present the women with certificates of achievement from the town.

“The Bond Head Women’s Institute has been in operation for 103 years, that’s over a century of volunteerism and dedication to our community,” said Leduc. “The institute has always been and continues to be a valued group within the town of BWG.

"We’re proud to see the legacy continue and celebrate these women who have put in countless hours and years of giving back to their community. Leila, Grace, Shirley, Dianne, and Alice, thank you for sharing your gift of volunteerism for the last several decades.”

A lifelong Bradford resident, Scott spoke to the interconnectedness of the Bradford community.

“These women have been teachers and role models to people throughout this community for decades, including myself,” he said. “They have nearly 300 years of volunteering between them, that’s almost as long as the last time the Leafs won a playoff game. We cannot thank them enough for their contributions. They’ve all been like family to me and my family.”

Former Mayor Rob Keffer, whose grandmother was a member of the Bond Head Women’s Institute for years, brought a group photo of the 1967 Bond Head Women’s Institute.

“There were 32 members and they were a dynamic group of ladies who did so much for our area,” he said. “We’re lucky in Bradford West Gwillimbury to have both the Bond Head Women’s Institute and Tec-We-Gwill Women’s Institute. They do so much for our community and I’d like to congratulate the incredible women being honoured here today. I’d like to say how important you are to this community and how important the women’s institute is to Bradford.”