Richard Watson Laird – ACA Volunteer Award

Merivale’s declining enrolment has prevented the Steel Drum option from being offered as a credit course in the school timetable. In spite of this, it has thrived as a club. There are however significant obstacles to running the Sticks and Steels club and bringing this unique music to community events. This has been made possible largely through the efforts of Richard Watson-Laird who has volunteered many hours to the success of the program. Transporting steel pans is a considerable task. The drums are large and spite of their robust appearance, they are very sensitive instruments that must be kept from trauma that would compromise their fine tuning. To that end, Richard carefully measured our steel pan inventory and designed a series of carts that can transport the steel drums with ease. He was able to get much of the raw material donated through appeals to industry, and built all of the carts himself. Watson-Laird also secured an arrangement with realtor Paul Rushforth that allows us to transport the steel pans to community events free of charge. For Richard, this often means an evening beginning in Kanata or Orleans to borrow the cube van— driving to Merivale High School to load the instruments,and then to the venue concerned. After the gig, it is back to Merivale to unload the pans, and then returning the Rushforth vehicle (often personally paying for gas enroute) to a suburban depot before returning home.  In the past year, our Sticks and Steel ensemble performed at Multicultural Shows, Ottawa Senators games, senior citizen homes, at Ottawa’s International Airport for the Junos as well as for the school’s Christmas and Spring concerts.  All of this has been made possible due to Richard’s extraordinary efforts. He is a most deserving winner of the 2017 Arts Volunteer Award — Secondary Division.