An Armstrong man has been recognized nationally for his commitment to helping those in need.
Don Blakely, a member of Vernon Search and Rescue, has been presented with the award for exemplary service from the National Search and Rescue Secretariat, which is part of the federal government.
“It came as a surprise because awards are not the motivation for doing this,” said Blakely, a lawyer.
“Helping people is the motivation.”
Blakely has volunteered with SAR for 24 years, including search responses, leading strategic planning through numerous committees and panels, developing teaching and revising training courses and assisting in the development of the national SAR insurance program.
“Without Mr. Blakely’s energetic, determined, thoughtful and detailed approach, the SAR service throughout Canada and particularly in B.C. would not be what it is today,” states a secretariat release.
Blakely has earned the respect of his local colleagues.
“Don is more than deserving of this award. He puts thousands of hours into SAR locally, provincially and nationally,” said Pete Wise, Vernon SAR president.
“I don’t know where he finds the time to do all of this.”
Blakely credits his parents for instilling community service in him, and he insists that he gets far more out of volunteering than those he assists.
“You have no idea of the feeling you get when you bring someone back alive and their mom gives you a big hug,” he said.
“And in the worst cases and a person is not alive, bringing them back to their family is valuable too.”