Kimberley’s Rotary Club doesn’t give out Paul Harris Awards every year. They wait until they feel they have two worthy recipients. They certainly found that this year.
Rotarians gathered at Centre 64 on Tuesday, March 9, 2016 to present Paul Harris Awards to two community volunteers; Clarence Uhll and Jim Webster.
Mr. Uhll is well known to Kimberley residents, likely having taught either them or their children during his long teaching career in Kimberley. He began at Watkins School, then Blarchmont and Chapman Camp, as well as McKIm and then Marysville.
Music was always his first love and it is how he gives back to the community he loves. After retiring, Mr. Uhll began volunteering and became a frequent sight in the old Platzl bandstand, playing his accordion for tourists, often while Adi Unterburger sang and yodelled along. When a friend, Red Foster, was moved to The Pines, Mr. Uhll began to go up and play for him. That evolved into weekly and now-twice weekly concerts for all the residents, which have continued for 20 years. Mr. Uhll also plays for Garden View residents and in the summer plays at the downtown railway station, as well as many community events such as Oktoberfest.
Kimberley resident Gerda Mann said that her mother lives at The Pines and Mr. Uhll’s concerts are the highlights of her week, as he always plays her favourite song and she sings along. Ms. Mann thanked him on behalf of all Pines residents.
“I am surprised to see so many people here,” said Mr. Uhll as he accepted his award. “I really enjoy music. I am happy to play for people because I like it. If people like it too, that’s double enjoyment. It’s quite an honour to be recognized for something you enjoy.”
Jim Webster has been around Kimberley a much shorter time, having moved here in 2004, but he has had a great impact on community events since then.
Webster was involved in the 2007 and 2014 BC Orienteering Championships, the 2010 North American Orienteering Championships, dozens of local trail running and local orienteering events, 6 years of Round the Mountain, the Turkey Run-off, the Dusty Downhill, Symphony on the Mountain, trail mapping and map making.
Mr. Webster told the crowd on Tuesday that he had always liked planning events.
“I actually like to organize events and get people to get involved. I don’t actually like to do a lot of work, but I do get excited about ideas. Then I get in too far to go back because I haven’t learned to keep my mouth shut.”
Carol Fergus of the Kimberley Arts Council said that the not working part was certainly not true. She had never met anyone with more of an ability to get things done than Jim Webster, she said.
“Coming up this year is Round the Mountain 2016 which already has 225 of a projected 500 participants,” Webster said. “Never have I been involved in an event that has had such a following both from volunteers and participants. Each year we have over 100 volunteers and without the continued efforts of so many, it wouldn’t happen but in particular, Toni Kitto is truly the driving force behind its continued success. It’s her passion for the event that keeps it going.”
Webster will also be planning a new event for first Saturday, bed races, and is looking forward to helping with the Kimberley Pipe Band 90th Anniversary Tattoo in 2017.
“If all my volunteering friends don’t all run or move away and as long as people support the events, I’ll probably be organizing something,” Webster said.
Rotary has previously honoured Bob McWhinnie, Heather Smith, Jim Ogilvie, Jean Irvin, Carol Fergus, Shirley Rossi and Jack Ratcliffe with Paul Harris Community Service Awards.