Jim and Inga Lamont have helped their fellow citizens with community initiatives for more than 60 years.

Jim and Inga Lamont have helped their fellow citizens with community initiatives for more than 60 years.

A power couple of Castlegar community caring

Jim and Inga Lamont have been honoured as the 2017 Citizens of the Year

A Castlegar couple that has spent decades helping others in dozens of ways have been named the city’s Citizens of the Year.

Jim and Inga Lamont were awarded the honour by the Knights of Columbus at a ceremony on May 30.

“Both of us were gobsmacked” on hearing the news he and his wife were receiving the award, Jim Lamont told the crowd in an acceptance speech.

“I was going to hang up on the caller at first,” Lamont recalled, thinking it was a scam caller. “Then I listened for a bit, and thought, he must have the wrong number, it had to be someone else.”

Lamont shouldn’t have been so demur.

The couple have been at the centre of charity drives, social welfare initiatives and community citizenship for nearly 60 years.

“They touched many lives, both directly and indirectly,” said the master of ceremonies for the evening, Bill Jankola, in introducing the couple.

The list of the Lamont’s achievements is long, both individually and together.

Inga Lamont was president and member of the Hospital Auxiliary for 15 years; one of three original women to form the Castlegar chapter of the BC Learning Disabilities Association, and was president of the provincial organization; was a superintendent at the pentecostal church the family attended; helped organize the first Easter Seals campaign in Castlegar in 1968; was chair of the project that developed the low-income housing complex Maranatha court; a member of Rotary; chair of the Children’s festival, a Christmas event at Selkirk College; a facilitator and coordinator for the Castlegar and district Justice Forum, as well as an elementary school teacher and mother of four.

Jim Lamont was a local businessman, running Castlegar Motors dealership and gas station; a charter member of the Castlegar Rotary Club; helped on the committee that built the Castlegar Health Unit; was on the local school board, and helped push for the construction of Kinnaird Junior Secondary School. He was on the BC School Trustees Association; sat on the municipal tax appeal board and was a member of the Sentinel Masonic Lodge.

Both were involved in the Red Cross Disaster Response and Disaster Assistance programs, helping with floods in Manitoba, the response to the 9-11 terror attacks in New York, and forest fire disaster in Kelowna, just naming a few. They also help feed and clothe poor and homeless people through an initiative of their local church.

There are many other smaller, personal acts of giving and support the crowd heard about during an open-mic session honouring the couple.

But Inga Lamont told the crowd the honour doesn’t just belong to them.

“It’s not me and Jim only, it’s everybody else who has helped us,” she said in her acceptance speech. “Because you can’t do things by yourself. “You have to have support, you have to have people who will back you up and people you can count on. And it doesn’t matter what we have done, there has always been a large group of people to help.

“I want to thank everyone, the Knights for honouring us, but I want to accept the honour on behalf of all the volunteers who have worked with us.”

Her husband echoed the sentiments, and while they are entering their senior years, he said their commitment to help others would continue.

“We have never done anything in the assistance of others for the benefit of ourselves,” Jim Lamont said in his acceptance speech. “That is just not the way we work. And when we have completed the good act and returned to the multitude with no further ceremony, we are content with what has happened.”

“We shall continue to do whatever is asked of us to improve the plight of others, until the time is no more.”

The couple will be honoured on a float on the weekend during the Sun Fest parade.