Recipients of TMHC Local Hero Award
WILLIAM FINDLEY - Gunner Wm. G. Findley served overseas under active duty conditions with the Canadian Army from 1941-1946 and was a D Day veteran. Co-founder of The Tillsonburg Military History Club, Bill was the Youth Education co-chairman for the Royal Canadian Legion Br. #153. He volunteered at local schools with the Memory project and at various student/military events at Robin Barker-James farm (near Tillsonburg). Bill volunteered as a Senior Veteran peer support worker with the Operational Stress Injury Social Support group at Parkwood Veterans Hospital, working with fellow veterans to cope with PTSD.
GEORGE H. BURGESS - served with the British Army from 1939 to 1946, primarily as a dispatch rider. Proud World War ll Normandy D-Day veteran. George moved to Tillsonburg in 1998. He was a regular volunteer in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 153's poppy campaign and longtime volunteer at T.D.M.H.
DAVE SAUNDERS - Along with Grant McKillop organized the Military Historical Society of London. The society was established by and run by veteran volunteers for the purpose of preserving history and teaching youth about our Canadian heritage. They promoted remembrance and awareness of Canadian sacrifice during all conflicts through book tours and sales, mall displays, artifact collections.
BRYAN GOUTOUSKI - Retired Major Canadian Armed Forces, Bryan had over 34 years of Military Service including his tour in Afghanistan in 2008. His Dedicated Military Career was Proud having Served with the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and Royal Canadian Regiments in Stratford, London and Elgin. Bryan, as a soldier who had served, wanted to help the public understand what soldiers experience during conflicts.
LAUREL BEECHEY - For her contribution to understanding all aspects of Tillsonburg's history. She has done extensive research into the military history of the men and women who served in all wars. Her video presentations/lectures/newspaper articles on Tillsonburg nurses (Nightingales) in WWl, Tillsonburg in WWl and Soldiers Stories, the Tillson family founders, Prominent citizens, Cemetery Tours, and regular Tillsonburg News articles are well received. Her services as a volunteer historian at Annandale Museum and Theatre Tillsonburg have enriched our knowledge of this town and its citizens.
BOB MARSDEN - Bob was awarded Tillsonburg 2013 Senior of the Year. As a zone commander of the Royal Canadian Legion, he has raised funds and promoted many events towards remembrance. Bob has played an active role and been involved in many parts of the community. He has been a long-standing member of the Tillsonburg Rotary Club for over 35 years, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, served on the Tillsonburg Cemetery and Heritage Advisory Committee, the Annandale Museum Advisory Committee, the Tillsonburg Historical Society, and the Pioneer Cemetery Committee.
GRANT McKILLOP - Along with Dave Saunders he organized The Military Historical Society of London. Grant has spent many years promoting military history to the entire area of Southwestern Ontario. He has attended countless shows related to military collecting and has always displayed reminders of remembrance and sacrifice where ever he goes. He is always happy to share his extensive knowledge of military history with anyone.
HARRY SAELENS - Harry had a deep lifetime interest in military history. Harry served in the Canadian infantry from 1944 – 1945 in Petawawa and Camp Borden. He retired from the military as Commanding Officer. He was a founding member and instructor of the Air Cadets Branch 153 in Tillsonburg. Harry became an avid Canadian Historian of WW11 events and collected military artifacts from jeeps to cannons to trench art. He travelled many times to the battlefields of Europe and was enthusiastic to share his stories and photos of these trips. He promoted remembrance and was a lifetime member of the Royal Canadian Legion.
ROBIN BARKER-JAMES - Robin grew up in an armed forces family with 3 generations of service. He lived on bases out west, in Nova Scotia, in Marville, France, and in Trenton Ontario. Robin was a well-known and respected history teacher in Tillsonburg. He had a special ability to connect with the youth and got them to participate in many ways to remember and respect the sacrifices of soldiers through history. He brought history alive and had a contagious enthusiasm that would encourage anyone to participate. He touched the lives of so many students both in the classroom and on the outdoor/trenches site at the farm near Tillsonburg. He was the founder of The Tillsonburg Military History Club. He was awarded the Diamond Jubilee medal in 2013 for his work in education and Remembrance.
FRANK MOORE - Frank has a deep interest in military history and has been responsible for bringing many interesting speakers to the area to promote remembrance and our military past and present. His biggest project was to bring alive the story of Alex McCracken and his crew on the ill-fated Halifax bomber "M for MOTHER". This project led to a trip to Ten Boer Holland to the site of the crash and a memorial to the fallen crew.
JERRY TURNER - Jerry has worked tirelessly to promote the remembrance of fallen soldiers in the Tillsonburg area. Recording the fallen individuals and their personal history in both World War 1 and World War 2. All of the information gathered by him is on permanent display in Annandale Museum - Military room.
RANDY WALLIS - Randy is passionate about the need to remember our veterans. He has been instrumental in the Remembrance Week display at the Station Arts for several years. Randy has readily displayed his artifact collections at Legion and Historical Society events as well as school classrooms. His efforts to restore the graveside memorial for Octavius Wallace, an American Civil War veteran, in a St. Thomas cemetery were successful.
DIANE HODGES - current President of Legion Branch 153 in Tillsonburg. She has provided care and compassion for many veterans and has represented their cause through the Legion. She is an avid supporter of several organizations representing veterans and the need for remembrance. Diane has been our Legion representative at many Canadian and oversea memorial services / anniversaries.
DON BURTON - Don Burton has been a long time member of the Tillsonburg Legion and has been the Poppy chairman for the Legion for many years. His commitment to Remembrance has been an inspiration to all. His outstanding effort to refurbish the 1943 Mk.IX 40mm anti aircraft gun monument has provided the Tillsonburg Legion with an amazing tribute to Canadian veterans.
CARRIANNE HALL - The owner of Trinkets Gift Shop in Tillsonburg, Carrianne has been a great contributor toward the recognition of local military service and remembrance. Her annual window displays of remembrance for the whole town to see at her shop on Broadway are a wonderful tribute to the fallen and those who have served in Canadian conflicts.
JASON PANKRATZ - Dr. Pankratz is dedicated to the history of his Tillsonburg community. As a life member of the Tillsonburg Historical Society, he is a regular speaker and participant at meetings and events. As a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Tillsonburg Varnavair Branch 153, he has held a number of executive offices including Vice-President. He regularly acts as host for Legion community events as well as the annual Remembrance Day banquet. His educational and community activities focus on civil and cultural opportunities. His passion for history and telling stories motivates him to continue the work of others who have supported and influenced him. In return, he hopes to inspire others to research and disseminate narratives for the sheer pleasure of storytelling and to perpetuate the memory of people, places, and events. His book “ Six Graves In The Village” published in 2021 chronicles the loss of the aircrew of Halifax bomber “M for Mother” and the journey to discover the full story of their fateful mission.
CHRIS JEZOVNIK - As a military veteran himself, Chris has devoted compassionate and dedicated care to his fellow veterans in need of help. Many veterans suffering from PTSD have been assisted by Chris to find help in their time of need and not knowing where to turn. Chris has been instrumental in getting them to hospital for physical and psychological assistance and for just being there if they need someone to talk to. Undoubtedly, he has saved lives and has made a significant contribution to the well-being of many veterans locally. Thank you Chris for all that you do.