Doherty named Tidnish community’s volunteer of the year

Melissa Doherty should have known something was up when the area’s municipal councillor asked her if she could meet him at the community’s recreation complex.

The community volunteer agreed and was surprised to learn she’d been named its volunteer of the year.

The presentation was made on Saturday, July 31, during the 40th Tidnish Festival.

“It was a bit of a surprise. I always think there is someone else a lot more deserving and there are probably people who have been here longer than me and do just as much, if not more, than me, but I know I do appreciate it,” Doherty said. “It was a big surprise.”

Doherty wasn’t planning on being involved in this year’s festival, but area councillor and festival supporter Rod Gilroy called to ask he could talk to her about the annual community celebration that was twice sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I told him I couldn’t come for the whole weekend because I have three kids I have to look after,” she said. “Normally, I would come from first thing in the morning and stay until the end of the day. Somehow he talked me into staying.”

Doherty has been on the community association’s board for several years and co-chaired it with Gilroy. She said it was nice to bring the event back for 2022.

“We were really disappointed it got cancelled last year and in 2020, and we were so excited to bring it back this year,” she said. “We weren’t as organized until before because we didn’t start planning until May. We normally start planning in November.”

While the plan was for a smaller festival this year, she said the response was so overwhelming on Saturday that they ran out of food at the canteen and had to go order more.She said Tidnish is a wonderful community and the people care so much about everyone. She also gives a lot of credit to Gilroy for the time he puts into it.

“I moved but I want to see it do OK,” she said. “It’s a great area.”

Gilroy said it was easy to present the award to Doherty.

"She does a lot of work for us. She’s the type of person you can ask something of and 10 minutes later it’s done,” Gilroy said. “She’s someone every community needs.”

Having the festival return is so important, he said, adding the community association has lost thousands of dollars in revenue because COVID-19 cancelled events such as the last two community festivals.

“For an organization like ours that’s a mountain of money,” Gilroy said. “The 40th one had been stalled for a couple of years because of the pandemic, so we had to have it, plus you worry that once something is stopped, it’s hard to get it going again.”

Gilroy said the festival had its strongest turnout ever and the canteen sales were a lot higher than expected. Gilroy is also thankful for the support of its sponsors who help make the festival one of the last free festivals in Nova Scotia.

“We want this to be a family event all the way around,” Gilroy said.