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Chris and Laurie Lapain crowned Citizens of the Year


Essex Knights of Columbus member and event emcee, Tom Bonneau, Councillor Morley Bowman and his wife, Bev, Rotary Club of Essex President, Stephanie Winger, and Essex Mayor Larry Snively congratulated Chris and Laurie Lapain (pictured centre) on having earned the 2019 Essex Citizen of the Year Award at the banquet held at the Essex Legion on Saturday evening. 

by Sylene Argent

Chris and Laurie Lapain were officially crowned as Essex’s 2019 Citizens of the Year on Saturday evening during the annual banquet held at the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201).

  The Lapains were nominated for the annual award, and later learned they were selected as the recipient of the recognition before the main stage entertainment began on the Saturday evening of the Essex Fun Fest in July.

  Since 1978, community members have nominated and selected a Citizen of the Year for their volunteer contributions. Annually, the Essex Rotary Club, the Essex Knights of Columbus Council, and the Essex Legion, band together to host the event with Heritage Essex. The funds raised are forwarded to Heritage Essex, which maintains the historic Railway Station.

  Essex Knights of Columbus member, Tom Bonneau, stepped up to be the event emcee. He said he has had the privilege to know Chris and Laurie for many years. He said the couple is always willing to lend a hand where needed.

  Chris and Laurie were nominated for the award for their volunteer contributions to their church, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, and to Essex Minor Hockey.

  “We welcome you to the ranks of Citizen of the Year for the Town of Essex,” Bonneau said.

  “I think Chris and Laurie really deserve this. They have worked hard and have contributed to the Town for years,” Mayor Larry Snively said, asking Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche and Councillor Morley Bowman to join him in presenting a token to commemorate the honourees.

  On behalf of the Rotary Club of Essex, President Stephanie Winger said often citizens are hidden gems within a community, and they need to be recognized for their efforts. “Chris and Laurie embody the heart and spirt of our small town,” she said.

  Jamie Paquette from Essex Minor Hockey said he has known Chris for many years. Every time anyone goes to the rink, they could see Chris and Laurie there, making sure everything runs smoothly for the youth athletes. Essex Minor Hockey would not run as it does without their efforts, he noted.

  Wendy Pulleybank-Cunningham of Holy Name of Jesus Parish said the couple volunteers tirelessly and goes above the call of duty. The couple has seven children and six grandchildren, and are very involved with their family, she said.

  She added that Chris and Laurie are great parents and their values have been passed onto their adult children. No doubt those values were learned from their mothers, Margaret Lapain and Cecilia Burling - also a past Citizen of the Year winner.

  Friend of the family, Gary Flewelling, added he has known the couple for many years and said he was grateful for being a part of their lives.

  Chris said he and his wife are humbled by the award. “When I hear the [Citizen of the Year] roll call, it is very humbling. To be mentioned among them is a big honour,” he noted.

  He pointed out former coaches and teachers in the crowd, who he said helped shaped him as he grew up. “So, if you don’t like me, blame them,” he joked.  

  All it takes to make a nomination for the Citizen of the Year program is to write down the name and some notes about someone who has completed good deeds before the middle of June, Bonneau noted. He thanked the Members of the Citizen of the Year Committee for their work on this year’s program.  

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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