Sills honoured as Whistler's Citizen of the Year 

Six awards given out at first Excellence Awards

click to enlarge CITIZEN OF THE YEAR (Left) Brad Sills was honoured with the award and he acknowledged his wife, Pixie, and all spouses of emergency services volunteers for their support and patience.
  • CITIZEN OF THE YEAR (Left) Brad Sills was honoured with the award and he acknowledged his wife, Pixie, and all spouses of emergency services volunteers for their support and patience.

A man who has spent a lifetime risking his own life to save the lives of others was named Whistler's Citizen of the Year at a Friday evening gala.

The award, sponsored by Pique Newsmagazine, was given to Brad Sills.

The humble man best known as the head of Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) was acknowledged with a standing ovation after 2011 Citizen of the Year Joan Richoz called his name.

Sills acknowledged his wife, Pixie, and his mentor after he was named as the recipient of the honour.

"In accepting this award tonight I do want to recognize a number of people, the first of course being my wife," Sills said. "Not just because she's my wife but for all the spouses of emergency services volunteers."

As well as Pixie, Sills also acknowledged other spouses that have to pick up the pieces after the phone rings. When the call comes, said Sills, the spouses of emergency services volunteers take over things like painting houses, renegotiating mortgages and raising children.

"These people need to be recognized for their patience, their innovativeness and their understanding because it is only with their support that these services are provided.

"I have one other person that I truly do want to recognize tonight," said Sills with a hint of emotion in his voice. "He's a long-time friend and he is my own personal mentor and if he was here tonight I would enjoy nothing better than to focus the attention on him."

Sills was thinking of Dave Cathers, another past citizen of the year and WSAR leader. According to Sills, Cathers showed him the true rewards of volunteer service.

Also nominated for Citizen of the Year Awards were Sue Adams and Alix Nicoll.

Paul Mathews of Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners was named Business Person of the Year at the first ever awards evening presented by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Community Foundation of Whistler, the Whistler Arts Council and the Whistler Centre for Sustainability.

Mathews said he launched his business in 1975 even before Whistler had status as a municipality.

"We've done 380 resorts now in 39 countries of the world," said Mathews. "Someone in Switzerland told me last Friday that represents about 20 per cent of the world's ski resorts."

He went on to say that his company learned some things in Whistler that they have exported worldwide. Ecosign now employs roughly 20 staffers.

"Not up to municipal standards, of course," joked Mathews.

The other nominees for the Business Person of the Year were Wayne Katz and Danielle Kristmanson.

Gala attendees chose RTown Communications as the Innovative Business of the Year through an interactive vote. Three nominees up for the award were given four minutes to tell their story. Norm Strim of Nonna Pia's Gourmet Sauces spoke along with Chris Prior of Prior Skis and Snowboards along with Don McQuade of RTown.

The other award recipients at the event hosted by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler were:

• Sundial Boutique Hotel — Service Excellence award

• Whistler Community Services Society — Sustainability in Action Business Award

• TD Canada Trust — Business and the Arts Award

Chamber president Fiona Famulak said the evening was a success.

"It was a true community event, a true community celebration," she said adding that an event debrief will take place with the partners who put on the party. With high praise coming in from attendees it is highly likely the event will happen again next year.

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