Premier Furey and Minister Abbott Present 2022 Seniors of Distinction Awards
September 16, 2022
Today at a ceremony in Deer Lake, the Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Honourable John G. Abbott, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, presented the 2022 Seniors of Distinction Awards.
This year’s recipients are:
- George M. Doyle of St. Lawrence (posthumous award)
- Barbara Ellis of St. John’s
- Rosie Lucy of Hopedale
- Elizabeth Murphy of St. John’s
- Wayne Noel of St. Anthony
- Eldon Swyer of Little Rapids
- Bryson Webb of Port aux Basques
Details on each of this year’s Seniors of Distinction can be found in the backgrounder below.
From being experts in their field and caring for individuals across the lifespan to sharing their culture and talents and volunteering as coaches, fundraisers and organizers, seniors give so much of themselves each and every day to their communities.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Seniors of Distinction Awards celebrate the achievements, contributions and diversity of older persons and seniors throughout the province. This initiative aligns with the recommendations of the Health Accord, and the Provincial Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting seniors and building an inclusive and age-friendly province.
“Congratulations to this year’s impressive line-up of Seniors of Distinction. Each of the seven recipients are remarkable leaders who have dedicated their time, talents and wisdom to help make the province and its communities a better place for seniors and future generations.”
Honourable Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
“Today, we celebrate seven incredible seniors that have shown tremendous character and exemplify an ethic of service to others. The 2022 Seniors of Distinction are outstanding role models whose efforts truly inspire us all.”
Honourable John G. Abbott
Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development
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Seniors of Distinction Awards
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Children, Seniors and Social Development
Recipient Biographies for the 2022 Seniors of Distinction Award
George M. Doyle
For over four decades, George M Doyle of St. Lawrence demonstrated leadership, commitment and volunteered his time to municipal council as a community activist. He served four years as Mayor, four years as Deputy Mayor, and over 23 years as a Councillor. During his years of service, he was very active in the Joint Town and Community Council and the Greater Lamaline Area Development Association. George was an advocate for employees of the St. Lawrence Fluorspar mine, and was an advocate for the construction of the St. Lawrence Miner’s Museum. He was president of the St. Lawrence Workers Protective Union from 1964 to 1976.
Mr. Doyle was an active member of the St. Lawrence Harbour Authority and Fish Plant committees. He worked tirelessly with the harbour authority committee and was instrumental in acquiring funding for the development of a 350-foot wharf and state of the art Fishermen’s Rest building. The building serves fishers with amenities such as washers, dryers and WIFI. He was described as a man of great character, perseverance and strength.
Mr. Doyle passed away on September 20, 2019.
Barbara Ellis of St. John’s has dedicated most of her life to improving the well-being of others. As a retired physiotherapist, Barbara’s working career was fueled by a passion for helping people strengthen their minds and bodies and keep as active as possible. In retirement, she has continued to keep people fit and active in mind and body as a volunteer. She teaches aqua fitness in Florida during the winter and, when at home in Newfoundland and Labrador, is a volunteer aquafit and group strength training instructor at the Ches Penney Family YMCA in St. John’s. In these roles, Barbara motivates and coaches other seniors and older adults to stay active through activities that support strength, balance and movement, which provide benefits for everyday activities. Barbara first joined the YMCA as a member at the age of 13 and has been a YMCA volunteer for the past 10 years.
Barbara is a strong believer in keeping your mind sharp and in trying new things, and endeavours to instill these values in all those she encounters, particularly seniors and older adults. Barbara is also a volunteer at her church and a Rotarian. Throughout her lifetime, she has also volunteered with the Newfoundland and Labrador Lung Association, Girl Guides of Canada, Canadian Physiotherapy Association, Ronald McDonald House, and The Gathering Place. Leading by example, Barbara provides inspiration to others that you can be fit and active in your community at any age.
Rosie Lucy (Grammy)
Rosie Lucy of Hopedale has worked much of her life as a public health aide. She is an Inuit Elder who has been gifted with the art of sewing. She created Inuit crafts such as moose hide slippers and mittens. She is recognized for her contributions to Inuit people, particularly as a foster parent for almost 40 years. Rosie raised nine of her own children, as well as grandchildren and other children in care. She has helped parents who were challenged with responsibilities of parenthood. Rosie has helped many children grow into independent individuals who now contribute to the community of Hopedale.
Rosie is described as a role model and true example of the positive impact that one person can have on the lives of so many. Even through a 2011 cancer diagnosis, Rosie continued as a foster mother. In 2020, she reluctantly closed her foster home following a second cancer diagnosis. Rosie has devoted her life to raising children and instilling them with pride – pride of what it means to be an Indigenous person and embrace their uniqueness. She is described as very humble and kind. Her profound impact on the lives of the people of the north coast of Labrador, and beyond, will be felt for generations to come.
Elizabeth (Bette) Murphy
Bette Murphy of St. John’s has been a volunteer for most of her life. She has gone door to door for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Kidney Foundation and Christmas Seals Campaign, and shared her sewing skills with children at Our Lady of Mercy School during the late 1970s. Most would agree however, that her most significant mark has been left on the sport of softball in Newfoundland and Labrador and female softball in particular. In 1966, Bette served as Secretary of the inaugural St. John’s Ladies Softball League and was appointed by the City of St. John’s to the inaugural St. John’s Recreation Commission. She contributed immensely to the growth of softball in Newfoundland and Labrador as a player, coach, manager and executive at the municipal, provincial and national levels. She even served as Chair of the Media Committee for the 1994 Women’s World Softball Championship at the Caribou Complex in St. John’s, extending her influence into the international sphere.
Bette is a member of the St. John’s Hall of Fame and is an honorary life member of Softball Newfoundland and Labrador. Beyond softball, Bette served on the National Advisory Board for Fitness and Amateur Sport from 1974 to 1976, and was selected as a judge for the 1984 Miss Teen St. John’s pageant. She has also made significant contributions to youth bowling, soccer and the Peter Pan Lawn Bowling League. At 85, Bette remains active in five-pin and lawn bowling and is admired for her flawless fashion sense, humble demeanor and understanding of others and their unique situations.
Wayne Noel of St. Anthony has spent a lifetime contributing to making life better for others. Born and raised in Goose Cove East on the Great Northern Peninsula, he lost his father at the age of 17 while attending university. He made the decision to move back home to be there for his mother and family. Shortly after his family moved to St. Anthony and Wayne began work for the Grenfell Mission. His career in health care spanned more than forty years of service where he advanced to a leadership role in materials management.
A believer in building strong and healthy communities, Wayne was instrumental in the re-establishment of an ice rink and the creation of the first indoor swimming pool for the community in the 1970s. In the 1980s and 90s, he was instrumental in economic development in St. Anthony, including the creation of St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc., a social enterprise which supports community development initiatives within the region.
Through the decades, he has served on Town Council, the Grenfell Historical Society and has been heavily involved in many other community organizations and events including the longest snowmobile ride in the world as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003. Wayne continues to be involved in community and economic development to this day.
Eldon Swyer of Little Rapids played a very active role in the School Administrators’ Council both locally and provincially and was a member of the Advisory Council of Grenfell College for a number of years. He also served as Chairman of the Labrador City Public Library Board and was instrumental in the building of a new town library. He was also founding Chairman of the Labrador-Northern Newfoundland Regional Library Board and served as a member of the Provincial Library Board for several years. In recognition of his contribution to the betterment of the community, the Town of Labrador City presented Eldon with a Builders Award.
Upon his retirement in June 1988, Mr. Swyer received many accolades from staff, students, community groups and others at large. His Holiness, John Paul II cordially granted a special Apostolic Blessing as follows: “to Mr. Eldon Swyer, Principal of Labrador City Collegiate, for his many years in education, his dedication, his ecumenical spirit and his wisdom in promoting human, cultural and religious values, invoking constant grace and divine protection upon his family and all his future projects.” Eldon will be 91 in November and continues to be an active volunteer with the Corner Brook Lions Club.
Bryson Webb of Port-aux-Basques has served as Board Chair of the Western Regional Health Authority since October 2017. This is a volunteer position that carries significant responsibility. In this role, Bryson is the voice of the board to staff, stakeholder groups and the community at large. Bryson’s other duties include recruitment, orientation and board mentoring and development. Most recently, Bryson has led Western Health through a community consultation process whereby seven communities were engaged.
Some of Bryson’s other volunteer experience includes: the Canadian Nurses Association; Ministerial Advisory Committee on Primary Healthcare Enhancement Project; the Community Employment Corporation; and the Dr. Charles LeGrow Health Centre Foundation. Bryson is described as a prime example of someone who has unselfishly devoted his time, knowledge and talent to volunteerism, particularly in the area of health care. He has done so for many years since his retirement in 1996.