Former Yorkton mayor W. Allan Bailey was one of nine recipients of the 2011 Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal this month.
Bailey, known in the region’s business world as the entrepreneur behind Bailey’s Funeral Homes and in the municipal world as an alderman and mayor in the 1960s and 70s, has dozens of volunteer achievements spanning half a century to his name.
Bailey was presented with his Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal at Government House in Regina on May 1 by Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Schofield.
“I never anticipated being nominated for this volunteer medal and I was very humbled by it, because all I could think of was of dozens of people I know who have done equally as much as I have in different ways and different venues,” says Bailey.
His efforts have been particularly focused on the promotion of arts and culture in the Yorkton area: an interest Bailey attributes to the style of his upbringing and to his late wife Colleen’s enthusiasm for the arts.
“Over the years we traveled all over Saskatchewan visiting artists and craftspeople, getting to know them and encouraging and supporting them any way we could,” he says.
Bailey was chair of the Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival and was the driving force, along with Colleen, behind the festival’s rejuvenation from the brink of death in the late 1960s. He was a key figure behind the application for a cable television license in Yorkton and surrounding communities; a proponent of the construction of facilities such as the Parkland Agriplex, the Yorkton Regional High School, and its Anne Portnuff Theatre; and a supporter of the Yorkton Arts Council, the Saskatchewan Craft Council, and the Moose Jaw Festival of Words.
Bailey considers one of his greatest and most rewarding volunteer challenges to have been the creation of the Parkland Regional Library, an organization he chaired for over 25 years.
“We spent hours visiting rural municipalities and small villages and towns all throughout this area, trying to interest them in forming a regional library system which would benefit everyone in the communities,” Bailey recalls.
His lifetime interest in literacy continues to this day, when he volunteers for the Rotary Club with children who need extra practice at reading.
Bailey’s other titles have included two terms as national Jaycees vice president; director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; and board member for the Yorkton Union Hospital.
Bailey, who still works fulltime at the funeral home he established, says his lifetime of volunteer work has been personally rewarding. He encourages every citizen to find a way to contribute.
“I just believe that if everyone pitches in, it makes for a better community, a better province.
“It does you good to get involved. You get to know people in the community. And it doesn’t really matter what venue you decide to put your emphasis on, but do something to make the community a better place for us all to live in.”