An elderly couple from Victoria who were once very active volunteers in the region have each been presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Harold and Beatrice Priddle, both in their 90s, have been married for 68 years and are now residents of Luxury Estates in Carbonear. They were presented with the medals during a special ceremony on Nov. 28.
Surrounded by family, friends and former neighbours, and representatives from the Town of Victoria, Victoria Lions Club and Branch No. 23 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Carbonear, the Priddles proudly accepted their prestigious medals. They are thought to be among the very few married couples to have received the medal, which is being distributed to some 60,000 deserving Canadians.
Looking energetic and upbeat, and with large smiles lighting up their faces, the Priddles seemed overjoyed at being in the company of so many dear friends. The medals, it seemed, were icing on the cake.
And true to form, Harold was witty and charming.
At first, he confessed to being "too rattled to speak," but later added: "We appreciate receiving (the medal). You know we deserve it."
Second World War veteran
The Priddles may have stepped back from the spotlight in recent years, but they remain well-known throughout the region. That was evident by the warm reception they received from the several dozen people gathered in the common room.
They were deluged with warm wishes, hugs and kisses, and many maneuvred for a chance to get a photo with the couple, who were described by Victoria mayor and longtime friend Arthur Burke as "outstanding citizens."
Harold worked his entire career as keeper of the former power station in Victoria, while Beatrice is one of the few remaining veterans of the Second World War.
They married in October 1944 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, where Beatrice was serving with the Women's Royal Naval Service, better known as the Wrens. It was the height of the war, and Beatrice vividly recalls seeing wounded sailors disembarking at the port.
Harold is a longtime member of the Victoria Lions Club, and served as marshall of the annual Christmas parade in the town for many years. And both were once very active with the Legion, with Beatrice often having the honour of raising the flag at Victoria's Canada Day/July 1 ceremonies.
They raised six children, three of whom became law enforcement officers. Two of their grandchildren also serve as police officers, which is a point-of-pride for the couple.
They were avid campers well into their 70s, and travelled extensively throughout the province and Atlantic Canada, and Harold continued to drive an automobile up to last year.
They have been blessed with exceptionally good health, though Harold admits Beatrice is "much smarter than me."
They are proud to say they visited Beaumont Hamel several years ago, and Beatrice likes to joke that she "knew everyone on the plane" by the time they arrived in Europe.
Harold also has a warm sense of humour, and admitted to "lying in bed at night thinking about the old stories."
Both became emotional when it came time to reflect on Beatrice's wartime service. It's obvious that Harold is proud of his wife's standing as a veteran, and Beatrice vividly recalls the day she left her home in Flatrock, an abandoned community near Freshwater, in order to join the navy.
"That's what I wanted to do and the Lord took care of me right through the years," she said.
When asked why she joined the navy, she replied: "I suppose because my father was a fisherman and I lived on the water. I was on the Labrador a lot. I liked the water."
One of her fondest memories occurred on Oct. 5, 1944, when Harold and Beatrice were married in a highly ceremonial military service.
"I married the man I always loved in my younger days," she said.
When asked the secret to such a long life and happy marriage, Harold is not likely to give a straight answer.
"I can't tell secrets," he said while squeezing Beatrice's hand.
Too bad for the rest of us, some might say.
About the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
° A commemorative medal created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. It serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
° Some 60,000 deserving Canadians from across the country and various walks of life will be recognized.
° Eligibility criteria - a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, but need not necessarily reside in Canada; have made a significant contribution to a particular province, territory, region or community within Canada, or an achievement abroad that brings credit to Canada; and be alive on Feb. 6, 2012, the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty's accession to the Throne. The medal can be awarded posthumously, as long as the recipient was alive on that date.
° Description of the medal - the obverse depicts a crowned image of the Sovereign, in whose name the medal is bestowed. The reverse marks the sixtieth, or diamond, anniversary of the accession to the Throne of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The anniversary is expressed by the central diamond shape, by the background composed of a pattern of diamonds, and by the two dates. The Royal Cypher consists of the Royal Crown above the letters EIIR (i.e., Elizabeth II Regina, the latter word meaning Queen in Latin). The maple leaves refer to Canada, while the motto VIVAT REGINA means "Long live The Queen!"
° The ribbon uses a new arrangement of the blue, red and white colours found in the 1953 Coronation Medal, the 1977 Silver Jubilee Medal, and the 2002 Golden Jubilee Medal.
° Desigedn by the Canadian Heraldic Authority.
° Composed of nickel silver and features a proof finish; manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint at its Ottawa facility.
Source: Office of the Secretary to the Governor General