Patrick D’Almada of Erin has received many awards for his volunteer work with the Lifesaving Society Canada, but his latest laurel is the crowning achievement.
D’Almada, who is New Tecumseth’s director of parks, recreation and culture, travelled to Buckingham Palace with his wife and two children in November to be honoured at the Royal Lifesaving Society Commonwealth’s 125th-anniversary celebration.
D’Almada was one of 23 Canadians among the 125 recipients of the HRH Prince Michael of Kent 125th anniversary Certificate of Merit.
After receiving his award from the prince, who is the president of the commonwealth organization, D’Almada had the rare opportunity to speak with Queen Elizabeth.
The meeting came as a total surprise to D’Almada, as he wasn’t sure beforehand if she was going to be at the celebration. He said he used the opportunity to talk about his work in the Caribbean, where he has helped develop life-saving programming and associations.
“She was very lovely,” he said. “It was very comfortable. She was interested in the work we are doing and, ultimately, it’s about saving lives in water situations.”
The 53-year-old Erin resident has volunteered with the society since 1988 and is now the international development co-ordinator with the international commission, where he leads development of lifeguarding, life-saving, swim-to-survive and drowning prevention public education in the Americas (Caribbean, Central and South America). He is also heading up the development of sustainable life-saving organizations in the Caribbean.
D’Almada is still qualified as a lifeguard and is also a provincial trainer, which is the highest level one can achieve in the field.
One of the major objectives of the anniversary celebration was to highlight survival swimming and to promote the program across the Commonwealth.
“The focus is really if someone falls into the water, do they have the skills to save themselves?” he said. “We often think people don't know how to swim. It’s not about being a competitive swimmer; it’s about being able to swim well enough to save yourself.”
For more information, visit rlsscommonwealth.org.