Chatham-Kent looking to honour seniors

Do you know any local senior residents who goes out of their way to volunteer their time to make life better for others?

If you do, consider nominating them for the 36th annual Senior Achievement Awards. The nomination period for the 2023 senior awards is now open and runs to April 5.

All nominees will be recognized, and the 2023 Senior of the Year will be announced during the live broadcast of the Chatham-Kent Celebration of Older Adults on June 1 on Facebook and YourTV.

The senior awards are a tradition that goes back to 1988 when they were first presented as part of the Blenheim and Area Seniors Fair.

Since then, more than 1,000 seniors have been honoured for their contributions to the community.

The awards program allows the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Mayor Darrin Canniff and Chatham-Kent Council to thank older adults and celebrate their achievements during Seniors’ Month in June.

The awards recognize and honour older adults aged 60-and-over who have achieved significant goals and have made outstanding contributions as volunteers in Chatham-Kent.

“We are requesting the public’s assistance,” said Mayor Darrin Canniff. “Everyone knows someone who has lent a helping hand, whether it be as part of a group or as an individual. Here is your chance to let us know about that person so we can recognize their contributions.”

Nomination forms are available at the Ridgetown Municipal Centre, Ridgetown & Area Adult Activity Centre, Ridgetown Library, Morpeth Heritage Club, and all other Municipal Centres, public libraries and Seniors’ Centres in the municipality. Nominations can also be submitted on the Let’s Talk CK website – A PDF version can also be requested by sending an email to

The senior awards were first presented in 1988, one year after the inaugural Blenheim and Area Seniors Fair.

Opal Rocheleau of Ridgetown was one of three residents who shared the honour of being the first senior award recipient.

The event name was changed to the Chatham-Kent Senior Fair with amalgamation in 1998. It became known as the Chatham-Kent Senior Expo & Achievement Awards, as the event was held annually at the Blenheim Memorial Arena on the second Friday of June.

The 2020 and ‘21 Senior Expo & Achievement Awards were cancelled by the pandemic and were instead conducted virtually.

In the fall of 2021, the municipality announced a change in format by creating the Chatham-Kent Celebration of Older Adults, which was supposed to be a live event in Chatham to replace the awards presentations that had been held in Blenheim since 1988.

However, the 2022 senior awards presentation was held virtually, while the Blenheim Senior Fair returned as an in-person event last June.

The Chatham-Kent Celebration of Older Adults committee has opted to maintain the virtual broadcast for this year’s awards on June 1.

“The virtual broadcast was so successful last year with over 5,000 viewings, we decided to continue with the virtual format,” said Mary Clare Latimer, co-chair of the organizing committee.

The broadcast will include an educational presentation targeting older adults, followed by the annual Senior of the Year Award winner announcement.

Josephine Richardson, a retired teacher from Chatham, was the 2022 Chatham-Kent Senior of the Year.

Elizabeth Brown, of Ridgetown, was the only local nominee who was recognized with a Senior Achievement Award.

The Chatham-Kent Senior of the Year Award was first awarded in 2012 to Erieau’s George Prins. Merlin’s Suzanne Drew was the winner in 2013. Dixie Peters of Morpeth was the 2014 winner, as she was recognized for her bereavement programs. Bothwell’s Marion Matt was 2015 Senior of the Year, followed by Chatham’s Ann Gooch in 2016, JoAnn Dale of Chatham in 2017, John Lawrence of Chatham in 2018, co-winners Cleata Morris of Merlin, and Bob Hamilton, of Bothwell, in 2019, and Carolyn Powers, of Chatham, in 2020. The 2021 Senior of the Year award was presented to 126 seniors who volunteered at the Chatham-Kent Vaccination Clinic.

Ridgetown’s Valerie Gough was among the 126 honourees.

Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News