Ed Dickins jokes that the extent of his volunteering these days is showing up at meetings and complaining if the coffee’s not ready.
But at age 96, with a lifetime of fighting in war, raising a family, a career and volunteering behind him, the Kelowna resident can be forgiven for slowing down.
On Tuesday, Dickins was awarded the Medal of Good Citizenship, bestowed on only a handful of British Columbians annually, in a ceremony at the Okanagan Military Museum.
The venue was apropos because Dickins is a founding director of the Okanagan Military Museum Society, the organization that runs the museum honouring those that didn’t return from the First and Second World Wars.
As recently as 2016, Dickins, at 93, helped the museum refurbish a rare First World War field gun.
With advanced age and poor eyesight, Dickins has had to scale back his volunteering, but he still attends museum planning and funding meetings.
“I had no idea I’d get a Medal of Good Citizenship,” said Dickins after the ceremony.
“I didn’t work on the museum for myself. It was a team effort to have a great facility to recognize the sacrifice of soldiers who went off to war and never returned.”
Dickins will have to find room for the Medal of Good Citizenship on the chest of his navy-blue blazer, which is already crowded with medals. There are the stars for serving in every year of the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, the Italy, France and Germany stars for fighting in those countries, the Defence of Britain Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.
Dickins’ family moved to Kelowna when he was 14.
“Two years later, I joined the Army and went overseas for the entire war (as part of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps tank crew).”
He served defending Britain, but also saw tank action in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany and North Africa.
On returning to Kelowna, he married, raised a family and started his own business, Dickins Delivery Service.
Also on his return to Kelowna in 1945, he became commanding officer with the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, a post he held until 1975.
Dickins was also president of Branch 26 of the Royal Canadian Legion, president of the B.C. Dragoons Regimental Association, president and founder of the Kelowna Veendam Sister City Association, co-chair of the Kelowna Cenotaph Improvement Project and provincial president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
“Ed didn’t do all this because he needs more medals,” said Tom Wolf of the B.C. Dragoons, who nominated Dickins for the Medal of Good Citizenship.
“He did it because because it’s important work and volunteers make things happen. In fact, Ed is part of the 1% of volunteers who really make things happen. He deserves the recognition.”
Provincial Minister of Labour Harry Bains, MLA for Surrey-Newton, was in town to present Dickins with the Medal of Good Citizenship.
“Ed Dickins epitomizes the definition of volunteer,” said Bains.
“Dickins defines good citizenship. He has spent the last eight decades of his life doing good deeds on behalf of the citizens of this country and this province. Dickins’ hard work, entailing thousands of hours of volunteer time, is demonstrated by results.”
Dickins is the only Okanagan recipient among the 19 winners of Medals of Good Citizenship this year.
Since the awards program was launched in 2015, only 55 B.C. citizens have been deemed worthy of the honour.