Thanks go out to the Trail Times for running the picture of my nephew, Robert Richards, accepting his Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award (Trail Native Honoured, Trail Times Feb. 19).
I was dismayed to see the Raeside cartoon (Free Diamond Jubilee Medal With Fill Up, Trail Times Feb. 19) run in the same edition; it diminishes the significance of his award.
While there may be some questionable presentations of the medal in some areas, medals have been presented to some very deserving people in our community and my nephew is one of them. Please allow me to explain.
Robert was born in Trail and grew up in the area. After graduating from high school, he joined the Canadian Army. Rob actively served in Bosnia and had some scary moments and close calls. During the Gulf war he re-mustered into the Medical Corp and served as a medic in an American Army Hospital in Germany. During a UN Forces exercise, he received an injury that eventually resulted in a full medical discharge from the Army.
Rob returned to Canada and went back to school, earning a degree in computer programing. He was hired by the Red Cross in Burnaby, where he utilized his medical and computer knowledge working on computerized medical equipment. He especially enjoyed working with and helping disabled veterans and children.
The Variety Club approached the Red Cross in 2011 to ask if they could help a young quadriplegic boy. Rob designed and built a mouthpiece joystick for this child’s wheelchair, so he could play video games; one of the few things he is able to do. This boy was featured in the Variety Club Telethon of 2011.
While working for the Red Cross, Rob was also approached by a non-profit organization working in Guatemala and asked if he could please help them fix up donated electric wheelchairs for the disabled in that country. He gladly agreed and volunteered two weeks of his time to go down with them to Guatemala. He returned to Guatemala again the next year for another two weeks.
These are just two examples of the volunteer work Rob has done. He once said to me that if he didn’t need to earn a living, he would volunteer all his time for projects such as these.
Currently, he is trying to figure out if he will be able to return to Guatemala to volunteer again this fall, as he has been asked if he could please come again.