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Paradise celebrates full roster of achievers at annual awards night

Paradise Mayor Dan Bobbett presents Mount Pearl Senior High School student Grace Norris with the Youth of the Year Award. Between volunteerism, sports, and an impressive academic record, Norris was a shoe-in for the honour. Chad Feehan photo

By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Town of Paradise celebrated Volunteer Week last week by acknowledging a number of volunteers, athletes, and businesses at its annual Municipal Awards ceremony held on April 18th at the Double Ice Complex.
Mayor Dan Bobbett used the occasion to remember councillor Elizabeth Laurie, who was an avid volunteer before her loss to cancer earlier this year.
“She left an indelible legacy in our town and I know her legacy lives on as she inspired many of you here tonight to continue on the strong tradition of volunteerism in Paradise,” Bobbett said. “Our volunteers showcase a remarkable dedication to the needs of the community… They are true community leaders, constantly, giving back, making a difference wherever they go.”
Swimmer Felix Sheppard was named Junior Male Athlete of the Year. Sheppard won numerous medals during the 2023 season and coaches with the Mount Pearl Marlins swim club.
The Junior Female Athlete of the Year is Emily Power, who holds a first-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate while also training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In addition to being a two-time Canadian champion and five-time world champion, Power also mentors younger athletes in the Paradise Soccer Club program.
The 19+ Male Athlete of the Year award went to gymnast Gleb Evstingeev, who bagged Team NL’s first medal at the 2023 Canada Winter Games with his first place win in the individual trampoline competition. The Memorial University student is also a certified coach who promotes safety for younger athletes.
Keith Glynn, a long-distance runner and co-founder of the Paradise running club, took home the 50+ Male Athlete of the Year Award.
Glynn ran in 10 NL Athletics Association sanctioned road races in 2023, finding himself on the podium in eight of them. Glynn has also been inducted into the NLAA hall of fame and received the Dr. John Williams Award for encouraging others to enter the Tely 10.
Trampoline coach Steve Nolan was accorded the Coach of the Year award. Nolan was lauded as a respected figure in the trampoline community who willingly shares his expertise with other coaches.
The Youth of the Year award was given to Grace Norris, the student council president at Mount Pearl Senior High. Aside from event coordination at the school, Norris coaches basketball, choreographs musicals, and organizes community fundraisers. Norris’ volunteerism includes work with the Stuff the Bus program which raised $1,600 for families in need last year. Despite all the extra-curriculars, Norris is firmly on the principal’s list and has been awarded a number of scholarships.
The secretary of the Paradise Centennial Lions Club Frank Witherall won the Citizen of the Year award for going “above and beyond” for everything he does. Witherall has helped organize Christmas parade floats, hosted dinners, and taken on the reins of fundraisers.
Fellow Lions Club member Adele Burton won Volunteer of the Year for her “unwavering commitment” to enriching the community of Paradise. Burton was heavily involved in discussions to support a new high school in the town. She also helps raise money for the food bank, volunteers at Ronald McDonald House, and assists the Salvation Army with its Christmas Kettle fundraiser.
The Kin Club of Paradise was awarded Volunteer Group of the Year for its activity in fundraising and cleanups. With the motto “Serving the Community’s Greatest Need,” the members have donated money to the Avalon Dragons, the 905 Viking Air Cadets, and the Paradise/CBS Food Bank.
In the business category, Banished Brewing was awarded the Business Excellence Award for companies with 15 or more employees. In its first 20-months of operation, Banished had the second-largest volume craft brewery in the province, exporting to five Canadian provinces.
The Business Excellence Award for companies under 15 employees went to Avalon Karate for its work both in and outside the dojo. Avalon Karate promotes inclusivity and community engagement with its activities, and is working on a para-karate program, the only one of its kind in the province.
The Innovation and Resiliency Award went to CE23, a 14,000 square foot sports facility in Paradise. The business was described as having an innovative location, taking over the grounds of an old fabrication shop.
Lori Letto of the Provincial Volunteer Week Committee, who helped present the awards, was happy to have a chance to show her support for the community.
“Paradise is my hometown,” said Letto. “It’s truly special to be here each year and celebrate everyone and all the wonderful things that are happening in our town.”

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