Nora Stinson Recipient of the 2022 OMFA Volunteer of the Year Award

This award was announced at the 2022 Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Music Festivals Association.  This is the citation presented at the time of the award.

Today I have the pleasure of submitting Nora Stinson’s name as the candidate for the 2022 Ontario Music Festivals Association Volunteer of the Year Award. 

She began her music journey in St. Marys, Ontario, when she became interested in vocal singing at an early age.  This led to competitions at the music festivals in Stratford back in the early 1950’s.  Nora was an excellent singer and usually placed first in her competitions.  I remember those days because I was there too.

Nora graduated from St. Marys District Collegiate Institute in June 1957 and continued her studies at Stratford Teachers’ College.  She began her teaching career in September 1958 in London Township Area 2.
She joined the Earle Terry Singers and sang in the choir for 15 years.  It disbanded in 1975.   She sang for several years in the church choir at New St. James Presbyterian Church where Earle Terry was the Organist and Choir Director.  We heard her sing many beautiful solos in our church during those years.

Nora did all her teaching in London schools, elementary for six years and secondary for twenty years.  After her retirement from working a few years in a travel agency, news got around that she wanted to volunteer and do something worthwhile to keep her busy.  The late Frank Barrett, Chairman of the festival at the time, heard about this and made arrangements for a breakfast meeting with Nora, me, Frank and his wife, Pat.  When Nora and I met at the restaurant, we looked at each other and realized that we knew each other from earlier times.  It was not necessary for Frank to do any introductions.  He made the remark, “It appears that you two already know each other.”  We both had married and our last names had changed, but our first names were still the same.  Thus began Nora’s long association with the Kiwanis Music Festival of London.

She has done much computer work for us—every year data entry for the syllabus and program, proofreading of much data for forms, printing of registration forms, etc.  Every year In January, Nora liked to take a winter holiday to Barbados.  When she arrived back, the scheduling for the vocal entries was always waiting for her.  She helped me enter the complete festival schedule into the computer every year.  Nora is a perfectionist and wanted the schedule to be as perfect as I did, so we would have fewer problems and conflicts later. 

She has printed off thousands of sheets for the hall boxes—adjudicators’ report sheets, secretary’s record book sheets for sessions, press releases, 1st, 2nd, 3rd certificates, summary of marks sheets, trophy invitations, signs for halls, hall managers’ timetables, adjudicators’ timetables, and more.  She has helped prepare the hall managers’ boxes for the halls.  She has filled many a pencil case with the necessary equipment, helped fill files with the correct forms and certificates and then helped sort those hundreds of files for classes and put them in the correct hall box. 

Nora has taken her turn as secretary and ticket seller in a hall too.  There have been times when a volunteer forgot to show up for duty.  I would get an emergency phone call for help and Nora was always willing to get in her car and drive to the hall to help or deliver extra certificates or programs.

She entered the festival results on the website every day during the festival, kept track of solo trophy winners, gold prize winners, the over 90 marks file and school trophy winners.  She helped prepare and print the “Thank You” letters for award and trophy winners in preparation for the Stars Concert.

Nora helped us during Covid too.  She volunteered from her home doing similar tasks in Google Drive.

Nora has two sons, six grandchildren and eight going on nine great-grandchildren.  She is very proud of her granddaughter, Laura, who is an accomplished pianist and teaches music to secondary school students at the W. Ross Macdonald School for the blind and visually impaired in Brantford.  Nora attended her piano recitals and drove her to many piano lessons, music festival classes and piano examinations.  Nora gave Laura her piano when she felt that she no longer needed it.

Nora has dedicated her lifetime to help and support people to do their best—26 years teaching young people, 33 years volunteering with the Kiwanis Music Festival of London and a few years in the travel agency in between.  For many reasons, I am pleased and proud to put forward the nomination of Nora Stinson as a winner of the 2022 OMFA Volunteer of the Year Award.

The award was unanimously approved by all music festival representatives present.

Charlotte Cleland
Kiwanis Music Festival of London