A familiar face at the HOPE Centre in Yarmouth for many years is leaving town and she will be greatly missed, says the chairman of HOPE’s board of directors.
Loretta Pilkington was involved in HOPE for 35 years, but she is moving to New Brunswick, so HOPE is losing one of its longest-serving and most dedicated people.
“Loretta’s been around a long time and we all respected her knowledge, her experience,” said Doug Thistle, chairman of the HOPE board.
Prior to a Sept. 10 meeting, Thistle presented Pilkington with a framed photograph of the HOPE Centre taken by Percy Cottreau.
“Just some recognition,” Thistle said. “It’s well-deserved.”
HOPE was fortunate to have Pilkington, who always was prepared to lend a hand, Thistle said.
“Around the HOPE Centre, she’d do anything,” he said. “As a board member and a volunteer, you didn’t have to ask her. She was more than willing to pitch in.”
Pilkington was born and raised in Halifax. She and her late husband, Bob Pilkington, came to Yarmouth in 1977. Bob, who died 19 years ago, worked for the CNIB for four decades and he was involved in the establishment of HOPE.
The group’s name is an acronym for Handicapped Organization Promoting Equality. Over the years, HOPE has offered a variety of programs and services for people with disabilities.
Pilkington says she has made a lot of friends during her time in Yarmouth, including people she got to know through HOPE, and leaving them behind is the hardest thing about leaving.
She also says she will miss simply being able to help out at HOPE the way she did for so many years. She’s glad to have had the chance to do her part for the organization.
“I did what I could do and that’s what counts,” she said.
Pilkington was active in the local community in other ways too. She was, for instance, involved in the Lionettes for 22 years and then joined the Lions. (Her husband had been a Lion too.) She also was involved in the Yarmouth area’s ground search and rescue team for 20 years. She would contact team members to let them know when they were needed for a search.
Pilkington is modest about her volunteer work. She recalls how surprised she was when the Yarmouth Lions Club honoured her as its citizen of the year.
“I sat at that (Lions Club) meeting and I listened to them talk about this volunteer that was getting citizen of the year,” she said. “It never dawned on me it was me ... They said, ‘this person is here tonight at the supper’ and they mentioned my name to go up and get the plaque. And I never moved because it still didn’t sink in. And one of the Lions said, ‘you have to go up and get that.’”
The 85-year-old Pilkington is slated to leave Yarmouth Sept. 27. She’s moving to Grand Bay, N.B., where her son, Peter, lives.
“I’m not going to live with him, but in part of his house,” she said. “He’s got a granny suite.”
Pilkington also has a daughter, Patricia, who lives in London, England.
Pilkington – who for many years volunteered with the CNIB – is visually impaired, but it didn’t stop her from being active in many ways, including everything she did at HOPE.
Said Thistle, “She didn’t let her disability – her lack of sight – hold her back. She didn’t want that to be a barrier. She just dug in and did whatever was to be done.”
Said Pilkington, “People will say, ‘how can you do that when you can’t see?’ I say, ‘well, I don’t have to see everything.’”