Metchosin's Ron Aubrey. left

Metchosin's Ron Aubrey. left

Metchosin resident reflects on reception with Queen

A lifetime of lifesaving led a reluctant recipient of a volunteer award to a royal reception.

A lifetime of lifesaving led a reluctant recipient of a volunteer award to a royal reception.

Metchosin resident Ron Aubrey was “absolutely shocked” when he received an e-mail from London in September inviting him to a reception at Buckingham Palace to receive a Certificate of Merit from the Royal Life Saving Society in recognition of more than 40 years of volunteer service.

“I had no idea that I’d been nominated,” said Aubrey, who ironically has chaired the committee that makes the nominations for the past 15 years. “I initially said no, but friends and family talked me into going.”

Each year the Royal Life Saving Society honours worthy candidates within and outside the organization for their service. With this year marking the organization’s 125th anniversary, His Royal Highness, Prince Michael of Kent, approved the issue of a special Certificate of Merit for 125 volunteers from countries that included the United Kingdom, Canada, Lesotho, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa and Saint Lucia. Twenty of the recipients this year are from Canada, with seven of those from B.C.

The certificates were issued on Nov. 22, with recipients attending a reception at Buckingham Palace later that day hosted by Queen Elizabeth and other dignitaries.

“To be recognized is a hell of an honour,” noted Aubrey, who began volunteering with the society more than 40 years ago. He was instrumental in convincing the society that it needed a presence on Vancouver Island, which led to his appointment to the board of the B.C.-Yukon branch. “I like the fact that they not only honour the work of their volunteers, but also ordinary citizens who have stepped up in a time of crisis. I don’t know many other organizations that do that,” he said.

He cited as examples a Canadian dentist who saved two boys caught in a rip tide in Mexico, and a woman from B.C. who helped with the rescue of passengers after the Costa Concordia cruise ship capsized off the coast of Italy in 2012.

Aubrey began a career at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre in 1967 and worked in the operation of aquatic, skating and curling facilities in the Capital Region for 36 years before retiring in 2003. He became involved with the life saving society to qualify as an examiner for people taking life saving courses at higher levels.

“My organizational roots are in aquatic rescue and lifeguard training, “ he explained.

Aubrey, who had never travelled outside of North America before his trip to London, said he appreciated the opportunity to take his son, Langford Assistant Fire Chief Chris Aubrey, along as his guest.

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” Ron said. “We got to see Buckingham Palace from the inside, I was presented an award by Prince Michael of Kent and we attended a reception hosted by the Queen. I’m still digesting the honour and the ceremony … it was overwhelming in so many ways that are hard to describe.

“I like to tell my friends that they can address me as Sir Ron, now that I’ve met the Queen,” he added with a laugh.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

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