Family, friends and fellow veterans gathered at an acreage west of Airdrie to recognize the service of 100-year-old veteran Bill Ward.
“[It was] wonderful,” Ward said. “A much bigger deal than expected.”
Ward was honoured with a Quilts of Valour (QOV) ceremony Sept. 21. Lana Butcher, a QOV representative, led the presentation and gave some background on the organization, which she said has provided more than 15,000 quilts to veterans across Canada.
During the presentation, Ward told those gathered about his service during the Second World War. He said he originally joined the military in Calgary as a butcher and a mechanic. Later, he attended a trade school in London, Ont. before he was shipped overseas.
“I got to Aldershot [outside London, England]. and wound up in the butcher shop there,” Ward said. “I was there for two months. They came to me and said they formed this new thing called the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).”
After joining REME, Ward worked on tanks in Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium and Holland during the war, which came to an end while he was in Holland. He stayed in the country for two additional months to prepare trucks to be sold and tanks to return to Canada.
After the war, he worked as a mechanic in Calgary. He raised a family that has produced eight great-grandchildren. At 100-years-old, he is healthy enough to live alone on his acreage. His daughter lives on the same property.
Ward’s wife Winnie passed away in 2006. Having married in 1946, their union lasted nearly 60 years.
The Veterans Brotherhood Canada (VBC) joined QOV’s presentation and arrived at Ward’s acreage in a convoy. They then marched for Ward and gifted him a comfort doll.
"The Izzy doll is more to give [veterans] comfort than anything else,” VBC president Ron Collins said.
QOV initially launched in 2009 with the goal of showing veterans appreciation for the sacrifices they have made. Volunteers make the quilts, which Butcher said can take between 40 to 60 hours to complete.
Ward said although he wasn’t previously aware of the VBC or QOV until two months ago, he was happy with the ceremony.
“For these times now, it seems out of the ordinary that so many are involved and giving up their time,” he said.