Longtime Wilberforce resident honoured for volunteer work 0
Roberta Walsh has long known the power of volunteering.
For decades, the cheery owner of the Bostonian Motel has been pitching in, flipping burgers, installing playground equipment and organizing fundraisers to better her community.
To recognize that work, MPP Laurie Scott awarded the Wilberforce resident with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal on Oct. 9.
“I’m pleased to be here in Wilberforce this morning for the presentation of a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal to Roberta Walsh. The community has benefited from Roberta’s longstanding, unselfish commitment to making Wilberforce a better place for everyone,” she said in a speech at the Lloyd Watson Centre.
Walsh, 66, has been active in the local Legion branch, with the volunteer firefighters, the curling club and in Brownies.
She moved to the area in 1955 from the States when her mother married a Canadian.
Her mother built the Bostonian, which Walsh and her husband Max bought in 1981.
Widowed five years ago, Walsh has continued to run the motel and keep up her community activity, which she says keeps her connected and happy.
“To be able to sit back and see all the accomplishments the money raised has made to the community is fantastic,” she said in an interview.
The award recipient was out playing bingo when the call from Scott came in that Walsh was to be honoured.
Returning that night, she was alone at home when she heard the good news.
“She left me a message on my answering machine and I sat here and bawled because I didn’t know who else I could call at 10 o’clock at night,” Walsh said.
Walsh’s family attended the ceremony Tuesday, which was an emotional and joyous event. “It’s a pretty proud, proud moment,” she said.
Of all the volunteering Walsh has done, the most rewarding was her 20 years as a Brown Owl, or Brownie leader.
“I still have girls that come up to me and call me Brown Owl,” Walsh said.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal was a great honour, but one that must be shared, the volunteer said.
“I couldn’t have done all I did without all of my volunteer friends,” she said.
Especially since Walsh doesn’t drive.
Max used to call it driving Miss Daisy, for all the rides his wife had to arrange to do her community work.
“There was a lot of people involved in driving Miss Daisy,” Walsh laughs.
The medal will occupy a place of honour in Walsh’s home, in the cabinet beside her husband’s 25-year pin for volunteering on the fire department.
Her advice to fellow community members who haven’t yet signed up to pitch in: “Get out there and work for your community. The rewards will come.”