Jean's father was a British WW2 veteran as was her grandfather.
Her family immigrated to Canada in 1973 and her dad joined the Royal Canadian Legion, Newton Branch #72. Jean and her friend were signed up for cadets by their fathers with the #2827 RCACC Port Moody Corps which was sponsored by The Royal Canadian Legion in Port Moody. After the first few years, Jean's friend quit cadets but Jean kept on. As she rose through the ranks, she "saw the light and moved to 746 Cloverdale Air Cadet Squadron in 1981". And she would keep serving youth in her community for over 19 years.
Jean worked at Vernon Army Cadet Camp during her school vacations growing up. In 1990, she was transferred to the Okanagan from the Lower Mainland by her employer and she made Peachland her home. Jean met some executives of the local Peachland branch during a power outage, and instantly clicked with them. They were looking for new, younger members and Jean felt, with all the change in her life that it was time for something new. Joining the Legion felt like the right thing to do.
Jean's first volunteer role, at the Youth Committee Chair at the Peachland branch opened up when she met more executive members during a power outage. One of the executive's came when they were in the middle of a power cut, and with security of a bank in mind the doors were locked. Members would have to stay home until the power returned. As it was, Jim Hooper knocked on the door. Jean said she couldn't let anyone in and he said, "Mary says you can't say no." That's the way it was it those days. As they were looking for new, younger members, she was nominated partly because of her experience with cadets and subsequently elected the Youth Committee Chair at her branch.
Jean’s first role at Legion Peachland branch was as Youth Committee Chair, taking advantage of all her experience with cadets and youth. Jean Warren was the President at the time and was the first female president of Branch 69. Jean took inspiration from that and worked hard at the branch. She was taken under the wings of Les Sykes, Bob McPherson, Bob Maxwell, and in 1994 she was elected President. “There were plenty of veteran members that taught me how to be Sergeant-at-Arms, offered their expertise in planning parades and Remembrance Day activities,” remembers Jean. “Without their guidance I wouldn't be where I am today.”
Since her election to the post of President in 1994 she served for 6 straight years, took a couple of years as Past President and is now in her 19th consecutive year as President of Peachland Branch 69. Mentors also encouraged her to take on the role of South OK and Sim. Zone Chairman, a role she still holds to this day.
Recently, Jean has joined with other community groups to form the Peachland Recovery Task Force who’s mandate is to help Peachland residents manage the COVID-19 situation. She has been part of planning a virtual gala and raising money through silent auctions. This money was donated to worthwhile organizations here in Peachland.
Honors and Awards
- 1978 met the Duke of Edinburgh when she received his Gold Award as a cadet (pictured above).
- 1981 qualified for the Queen's Commission Medal.
- 1996 selected by Pacific Command as the representative to the Youth Pilgrimage of Remembrance, just one of ten in Canada. Off she went to England, France, Holland, Belgium and Germany. She stood on the Vimy Memorial and visited many other Monuments and Cemeteries over the two weeks period.
- 2003 awarded Life Membership
- 2010 carried the Olympic Torch in Oliver, BC
- 2014 awarded an MSM
- 2014 presented with the Peachland Citizen of the Year Award
- Recipient of the Queen's Gold and Diamond Jubilee medals from her service in the cadets.
Jean is extremely thankful to the people she has met along the way, especially Legion members who have guided her Legion career and community service. If you are ever in the area drop in to the Peachland Legion to say hello and experience their hospitality.