2017 Community Volunteer Award Recipients



Volunteer of the Year: Bill Gilkes

Bill, who with a team of Pender Harbour Fire Department volunteers were first on scene at a traffic accident involving an SUV which went off the road, plunging over a waterfall and into a creek just south of Madeira Park. Although the rescue was a joint effort of the Pender Harbour Fire Department and the Sechelt Fire Department, Bill was the one to rush down to the vehicle, ignoring the personal risk involve, and secure the SUV so that it would not plummet farther into the water. After being huddled for 3.5 hours, outside her vehicle in the cold water, the driver, Carolynne Drane of Surrey, was pulled to safety and attended to by paramedics, before being taken to a waiting air ambulance. Carolynne spent nearly a week in hospital being treated for hypothermia, a broken nose, a concussion and soft tissue damage. Sunshine Coast RCMP, members of Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue, BC Ambulance Service, and the Sechelt Volunteer Fire Department also took part in rescue efforts, with the Sechelt Fire Department using their ladder truck to lower one of their members down to the vehicle, as well. As the Deputy Fire Chief, Bill Gilkes is a leader in our community. He maintains his training and ensures the other members of the Department do the same. He is an excellent mentor to the younger members of the Department promotes the values of self-respect and professionalism. He is also well-known around the community as a volunteer for the set-up of complex events like May Day, the Serendipity Craft Fair and hanging and maintaining the community Christmas tree lights. On the 50th anniversary of the Pender Harbour Fire Protection District, this award also honours all Pender Harbour Fire Fighters.



Lifetime Achievement Award: Doreen Lee

On page 174 of the book The Women of Pender Harbour, authors Dorothy Faulkner and Kathy Jenks wrote:

            “Thanks to the vision of Doreen and Ray Lee, community groups that got underway in the sixties matured into the harbour’s key cultural institutions. Rooted into the enthusiasm for that first community band and community choir, there later arose the vibrant harbour musical culture that grew to include the Harbour Lights Dance Band, the Pender Harbour Music Society, the School of Music, the Jazz Festival and the Blues Festival, the Chamber Music Festival and the Pender Harbour Pipe Band. As well as turning their … home into an impromptu community cultural centre ….”

            With Jo Benjafield, she formed a Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1963 and became the Club’s first secretary. She was also secretary of the Pender Harbour Chamber of Commerce. In 1966—with Joan Rae and Elna Warnock—Doreen began to organize the harbour’s first community library, collecting books door to door, and launching the project from a room in the Community Hall. This ultimately led to the founding of the Pender Harbour Reading Centre, a volunteer run institution that continues to flourish in Pender Harbour today.

Doreen was also a founding member of the Health Centre Board in the 1970s, serving on the Board for the first three years of its existence. Doreen was also a founder of the Bargain Barn thrift store, which has raised many thousands of dollars over the last 40 years for the benefit of the PH Health Centre. She retired as a volunteer just last year.



Lifetime Achievement Award: Barrie Wilbee

Barrie Wilbee came to Pender Harbour in 1971 as one of the new co-owners of Lowe’s Resort.  Almost immediately he became a volunteer firefighter and in 1995 he joined the Fire Protection District Board, which he has chaired since 2001. This year the Pender Harbour Fire Protection District celebrates its 50th Anniversary. His past contributions are numerous: Member of the Area A Planning Commission from 1985 to 2005, Member of the Official Community Plan Committee for Area A from 2000 to 2005, Member of the Area A Incorporation Planning Committee from 2000 to 2002, Member of the Area A Water Master Plan Committee  from 2005 to 2006, Founder of the Sunshine Coast Economic Development Commission; Member from 1981 to 1995 (sat as Chairman during restructuring), Founder of the Sunshine Coast Employment Development Society where he was a member and chair from 1985 to 1995, Member of the Board of Directors of the Sunshine Coast Salmon Enhancement Society from 2005 to 2007, Member of the Sakinaw Lake Sockeye Salmon Recovery Team from 2004 to 2006. He was also the area A Alternate Director from 2005-2015,

            Currently he makes the following contributions: Founder and Board member of Sunshine Coast Community Futures, Chair from 2007 to 2010. He has been on the board of the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation since 2008. He was on the Sport Fishing Advisory Board (Advisor to Minister of Fisheries & Oceans) from 1981 to 2016 and continues as the alternate. He was a founding member of the Pender Harbour Advisory Council in 2012 to today (renamed in 2018 as the Pender Harbour and Area Resident’s Association). He was also a founding Board member of the Diener Cultural Foundation.

            In 2016, Community Futures Sunshine Coast, in partnership with the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation and Barrie and Bev, created an endowment to honour Barrie Wilbee in the form of a scholarship to be awarded annually to Sunshine Coast residents who require funding to further their education and knowledge in community economic development, entrepreneurship and business skills development.