Estevan's Larry Preddy recognized as regional parks volunteer of the year on the provincial level

Larry Preddy, the co-owner of Henders Drugs, a strong community-minded volunteer and great Estevan supporter, was recently recognized by the Saskatchewan Regional Parks Association (SRPA).

For his endless hours and countless contributions to the park that he's done throughout the years, he was named volunteer of the year.

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The announcement was supposed to be made during the Saskatchewan Regional Parks Association’s (SRPA) Convention, which is a provincial networking event originally slated to take place last spring. But like many other events this year, the in-person convention was cancelled, and the SRPA's annual general meeting was held online at the end of October. That's when the great news for the Estevan community was first announced.

"You can nominate people for a volunteer for the year, and so our executive members got together and secretly nominated Larry, who is our current Woodlawn Regional Park Authority chairperson, for the Sask. Regional Parks volunteer of the year award. And he was one of the recipients of that award," shared Maureen Daoust, who is the Woodlawn Regional Park's business manager.

The executives kept the good news a secret for some time, still hoping to find a way to celebrate the great volunteer they have. But since the current situation doesn't allow for any bigger gatherings, they decided to go ahead and share the news with Preddy and the community.

"Not one to seek the limelight, there could not be a more deserving recipient of this award. As the heart and soul of our organization, our park would not be the treasure it has become today without his committed efforts," Daoust said.

Preddy said he was very surprised and also really humbled to learn that he became the award recipient.

"You don't do this stuff for recognition. I do it because I enjoy it," Preddy said. "I work with such terrific people, both on the board and the employees that we have, they are just fabulous to work with."

Preddy always had a lot of knowledge and passion for greenspaces. He explained that this interest draws from his childhood.

"Until Grade 9 we lived in the small town of Tribune. And my grandparents lived here, so we went visiting. We used to go to Woodlawn Park. And I guess my attachment to the park started before we even lived in Estevan," recalled Preddy.

"But what really inspired this, is in 2000 I got a couple of miniature schnauzers that I really enjoyed walking. So I found the park to be a fabulous place to walk them. So I walked them there basically every day, and really got more familiar with the park and so forth."

Preddy went on to suggests some improvements to the park's current authoritu, which they found really valuable, and invited him to come on board.

"They started lobbying me to become a member of the board. It took a lot of lobbying because I was on several other boards. But finally, I entered and the rest is history," Preddy said.

Ever since then, Preddy was heavily involved with the park. He was a big part of rebuilding Woodlawn Regional Park after the 2011 flood.

"He offered a lot of leadership and encouragement, and over the years he has also donated a lot financially to the park," said Daoust.

Preddy explained that as a local businessman he sees donating to the park as a good cause.

"Estevan has been really good to me over the years, and sometimes you'd like to give it back. And this is part of my way of giving back to the community."

He added that over the years he always found joy being outdoors after spending long hours at work. 

"Believe it or not, but being a pharmacist is fairly high-pressure work. And (engagement with the park) gave me the opportunity to actually be outside enjoying nature," Preddy explained.

With Preddy's leadership, encouragement and financial support the park has added new services including an off-leash dog park and an award-winning outdoor fitness area, along with a hiking trail system that is enjoyed by thousands each year. His contributions have also enabled beautiful signature log fences surrounding the entire boundaries of Woodlawn Park. Besides, with Preddy's support, the park has added many new trees over the years.

He has donated memorial benches throughout the park for people to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature or to visit at the play park while watching their children.

Daoust added that on top of the mentioned above significant contributions, efforts and improvements, every summer Preddy also donates hundreds of hours of his time that he spends on a lawnmower at Woodlawn and Boundary Dam parks.

"I don't work in the store as much and I got to be doing something, so it keeps me occupied, plus it helps the park and it helps somebody else," Preddy said.

He also offers on-call oversight of the park on evenings and weekends if needed.  He has orientated and assisted four new managers over the course of the past 12 years. 

"Larry is a wonderful model and mentor for our summer students. He is always very positive with the youth and an authentic participant of ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ He facilitated the creation of our annual winter community event, Woodlawn Regional Park Festival of Lights held each year ... Any activity that we have, Larry is always behind the scenes," said Daoust, but Preddy corrected this statement saying that he was one of the many people involved with setting up this great community event and all other big achievements that the board credited him for.

Daoust said they weren't surprised that the SRPA heard them and decided to award Preddy. They hope that maybe next year they will be able to have some kind of celebration, but for now, they just invite the community to share the great news.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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