Kathryn McGill, Rotary PR — Special to

GRAVENHURST — Since COVID-19 first impacted our community in March our first responders have needed to face harrowing circumstances and provide extra measures of safety to their teams and the public.

They have addressed the extra societal challenges that have come with the increased isolation and stress on individuals and families.

In a small, safely-distanced gathering Tuesday, Oct. 13, in the Trinity United Church basement hall — in their first meeting their since last winter — the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst honoured them for their service to the community in how they exemplify Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self.

Rotarian Bryan Graham, a retired Peel police executive officer and member of the Community Services Committee (CSC) headed this year’s initiative with fellow Rotarian John Cooper who provided introductory remarks to open the short ceremony.

Accepting the honours were:

  • Gravenhurst Fire Chief Larry Brassard and firefighter Diane Rubinato;

  • Muskoka Paramedic Services Chief Jeff McWilliams, paramedic Diane O’Neil and administrative support worker Laura Wernham;

  • OPP Insp. Michael Burton, detachment commander at Bracebridge, Const. Natalie Strane and support staff worker Tammy Whitehead.

The committee (CSC) agreed that each responder agency was worthy of recognition for their entire team, including everyone behind the scenes, all staff and volunteers.

The Rotary Club’s president, Pat Bongers, presented special plaques to each agency embellished with Rotary Challenge coins.

Each agency chose a charity to receive a $100 donation made in their name.

Two cheques went to the Andy Potts Foundation/Andy’s House on behalf of the OPP and fire department.

Paramedics asked that their cheque go to the United Way of Simcoe Muskoka.

Brassard, McWilliams and Burton thanks Rotarians and shared their unique experiences.

The event was recorded by videographer Mike Church for Rotarians and the first responders to share.

(Photos by Kathryn McGill, Gravenhurst Rotary Club public relations)

Rotarian John Cooper, left, enjoys a laugh as president Pat Bongers presents a $100 cheque to OPP Insp. Michael Burton, detachment support worker Tammy Whitehead and Const. Natalie Strane for the Andy Potts Foundation/Andy’s House.
Fire Chief Larry Brassard thanked Rotarians as club president Pat Bongers presents a cheque to firefighter Diane Rubinato for the Andy Potts Foundation/Andy’s House.
Rotary president Pat Bongers, left, presents Muskoka Paramedic Services Chief Jeff McWilliams, paramedic Diane O’Neil and administrative support worker Laura Wernham a cheque for the  Simcoe Muskoka United Way.