Doreen Kelly spent 30 years in Hay River. Now aged 90, she has just received Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal in Alberta.
The medal recognizes people who have made significant contributions to their communities. Kelly, who lived in Hay River from 1970 to 2000, now lives in Camrose, Alberta.
In Hay River, Kelly – who worked as a nurse at the town’s health centre – spent time as the national president of the Canadian Royal Purple, an organization that describes itself as a “group of dedicated volunteers working to improve towns and cities across Canada, with an emphasis on community and youth.”
Having become one of 7,000 Albertan recipients of the award over the past year, Kelly says she may, at last, take a step back from volunteering.
“I love to do it. It makes me happy,” she told Cabin Radio. “But I’m 90 years old and it’s time for me to stop getting so involved.”
After decades of volunteer work, Kelly says she is left with many memorable stories.
“I was kind-of responsible for putting in the track at the Diamond Jenness high school in Hay River,” she said.
“I got the trees cut down and then, well, they had to do something! But that was a big thing, because there’s now lots of volunteer work that goes into that every year for the kids.”
Kelly also recalled New Year’s Eve gatherings and costume parties she helped to organize, as well as the Lobster Fest held in Hay River for several years. Winning the medal, she said, serves as a reminder of all she has done.
“It’s quite an honour. I really didn’t think it would lead to this,” Kelly said.
“You’re always raising money for a need. Maybe there was a fire or an organization needed money. You raise money and you give it to whoever needs it. Everybody chipped in and did their part.
“It was just what we did. And I got to be a part of that.”