By Dianne Cornish
Freelton area resident Mary Lamb readily admits that she isn’t often at a loss for words and she “usually knows” what’s going on around her, but she really wasn’t prepared for being awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal last Saturday. Flamborough councillor Judi Partridge made the surprise presentation during the community breakfast at Knox Presbyterian Church, in Waterdown.
Lamb was lured there under the pretense that she and other members of the Flamborough Santa Claus Parade Committee were invited to an appreciation breakfast prepared by members of the men’s church group, which organizes the weekly event. The invitation seemed plausible as the church had recently donated the proceeds of one of its breakfasts to the parade.
“We came up with the perfect setup,” said Lamb’s daughter, Shannon Newell, who was the only member of the family who knew about the medal presentation in advance. With the help of friend and parade committee member, Sharon Kats, a member of Knox Church, Newell was able to put her plan into action.
She also worked with Councillor Partridge to make sure it was a complete surprise.
Lamb’s husband of 44 years, Jim, wasn’t even informed beforehand.
“We kept it under wraps for three weeks,” Partridge said, adding that she nominated Lamb for the medal “in recognition of everything she has done for the community,” including being a founding member of the Santa Claus Parade Committee and its chair for the past 14 years and the founder of Animal Adoptions of Flamborough (AAF), which cares for abandoned and abused pets and runs an animal shelter in Waterdown.
“I was completely and totally surprised,” Lamb said, adding that even when Partridge stood up to address the close to 100 breakfast guests and made reference to a special person who was about to receive an award, she didn’t realize the councillor was talking about her.
“I feel very honoured, but it hasn’t changed my thinking about anything and I’m still the same person I was before (receiving the award),” she said.
Partridge is tickled that she and Newell managed to pull off the surprise without a hitch. “Mary was blown away,” she said. “Very rarely does anyone put anything over on her.”
Lamb said she remembers thinking that it was “odd” that her brother and sister-in-law, John and Barb Parker of Burlington, were at the breakfast, but they’ve helped out at the parade, too, so she still had no inkling about what was about to happen. Also present were her son and daughter-in-law, James and Rebecca, and her four grandchildren, including 14-year-old Hunter who is a member of the parade’s junior committee.
Lamb couldn’t recall what she said in her acceptance speech, although she remembers mentioning that if anyone wants to help out with next year’s Santa parade, they’re welcome to attend the parade committee’s meeting at 8 p.m., Wed. Feb. 20 at The American House.
The medal recipient said there is only one other time in her life that she remembers being totally surprised when presented with an award and that was when she won the Hamilton Status of Women Committee’s Woman of Year Award in June 2005. Coincidentally, Partridge won the same award that night.
Lamb said she plans to display the Queen’s Jubilee medal and plaque in a special place in her home office on her Highway 6 farm.