Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards presented long-time Airdrie volunteer Wendy Contant with Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee Award to honour more than 15 years of serving the community.
Richards surprised Contant with the commemorative medal while she was volunteering to make smile cookies as part of the Tim Horton's Smile Cookie campaign at the Veterans Boulevard location on Sept. 21.
"To be able to present her with this award, we had to show up where she's volunteering, because that's what she's always doing," Richards joked following the award presentation. "That tells you everything about how deserving [Contant] is."
The commemorative medal was created to mark the Queen's 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne in 1952 as Queen of Canada.
The award was introduced in the Legislature of Alberta on Feb. 22 this year and received royal assent on Mar. 24. The act included the creation of a medal to be awarded to 7,000 Albertans who have made significant contributions to society, according to the government's website.
"The Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal is a tangible way for Alberta to honour Her Majesty’s service to Canada," read the website. "The Medal program will be part of the Platinum Jubilee year celebrations, organized by the Government of Alberta."
Minimum criteria were set for the medal recipients including Canadian citizenship or permanent residency with a link to Alberta, and recipients were to have made a significant contribution to their community. The program is continuing despite the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and will conclude on Feb. 5 next year.
Contant stated she was very much surprised by the award, which comes on the heels of also winning the 'Best Citizen' award in this year's Best of Airdrie Readers' Choice Awards, hosted by the Airdrie City View.
"My heart is pounding right now and I'm still so surprised from what I got last week," Contant said about the double-win. "This is too much. I can't believe it."
Contant is currently working to help decorate Tim Hortons smile cookies until Sept. 25 to help raise funds for the Airdrie Health Foundation. Last year, the campaign raised approximately $35,000 towards the non-profit in support of local health initiatives.
The longtime volunteer said her favourite part about volunteering is getting to see members of the community and enjoying the social aspect of it.
"I love being able to help people because a lot of these organizations need the assistance for all the events they're doing and everything," she said. "And I get hugs from everybody – that's the best part."
She said the hardest part of the COVID-19 pandemic was not being able to volunteer at local events.
"There was no hugs. As soon as events started, I started collecting [hugs] again," she said.