Two share Bill Thake Award

·3 min read

Two Leeds and Grenville northerners are the winners will share the 2021 Bill Thake Memorial Award for Economic Development Leadership

Cathy Sheppard, from North Grenville, and Ken Watson, from Rideau Lakes, were announced as the winners by United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Warden Roger Haley, during the counties's live-streamed Economic Development Summit on Friday morning.

"Both individuals have shown outstanding commitment to improving and developing their communities," said Haley.

This year's Bill Thake award had four nominees from all across Leeds and Grenville.

Filming from the inside of a stopped car, Sheppard said she was grateful for the award.

Sheppard started her business, the business accounting company Sheppard and Associates, in 1984. When she retired and sold the company earlier this year, she had built a roster of 3,000 corporate, personal and business clients.

Throughout her 37 years in business, she was involved in the Kemptville and greater North Grenville community, an involvement which continues now despite her retirement.

Most recently, she has volunteered with the International Plowing Match in North Grenville scheduled for 2022.

She is an active member of the Kemptville Youth Centre, Jumpstart, Kemptville Walks for Mammography and Kemptville District Hospital. Sheppard is also active with the local business networks, like the North Grenville Chamber of Commerce, North Grenville Business Builders and the BR+E Alliance.

She continues to mentor new entrepreneurs, including women starting up businesses, and has been a contributor to the Leeds Grenville Small Business Centre's annual International Women's Day event. Sheppard also advocates for the Kemptville Women in Business group.

Sheppard is no stranger to awards. In 2018, she was given the Lifetime Achievement Award created to recognize women who have longstanding businesses while showing leadership in their Leeds and Grenville communities.

She also sews toques and mitts for the Ottawa Mission and women's shelters.

"My little municipality is where I was born and raised and I never want to leave, so I was really always motivated to give back and I love my community," said Sheppard. "Thank you for the recognition; I really appreciate it."

Watson began by saying that the nomination for the award came as surprise to him.

"I would like to thank everyone who supported me. Volunteering when you're promoting something as nice as things within our part of old Ontario is really satisfying," added Watson.

Watson is well known for his commitment with many initiatives designed to attracted visitors to the Rideau Lakes area, including creating and maintaining a personal Rideau Canal Information website since 1996, created to attract visitors to the area and provide them with free information about Rideau Lakes. He uses heritage information and contemporary tourism to give visitors a better understanding of the Rideau Lakes region.

Watson has also worked extensively to contribute to the Old Delta Mill in various ways. He contributed to the archive/artefact project for the Delta Mill Society and has been helping set up new displays at the Mill. Most recently he has published a book, Building the 1810 Old Stone Mill in Delta, Ontario.

He has been an active ambassador for many community groups for the last 25 years with the Delta Mill Society and Friends of the Rideau, the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, and the Chaffey's and Area Heritage Society.

David Cybulski, from Augusta Township, and brothers Silvan and Yulrick Fernetich, of Leeds and the Thousands Islands, who are co-owners of Lansdowne Freshmart, were also nominated and recognized for their commitment to Leeds and Grenville.

(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times

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