Long time Shaunavon Standard employee Fred Farnworth has attended numerous Shaunavon Citizen of the Year banquets in the past, either covering the events for the newspaper, making presentations to award recipients or just supporting those selected for the honour.
But this year’s event will be a little bit different as the veteran local journalist will be the guest of honour at the annual celebration.
The Shaunavon Chamber of Commerce announced that Farnworth has been named Citizen of the Year for 2017.
“It’s a very humbling experience to receive such a prestigious honour,” said Farnworth. “I have to admit, it caught me completely off guard. It definitely wasn’t anything I expected to win. Volunteer work is a way of giving back and you don’t do it for the accolades.”
The Citizen of the Year award has turned into an honour to recognize some extraordinary volunteer accomplishments in the community.
But in terms of pure volume, there are few that can match Farnworth’s record of volunteer contributions.
He has served as the public address announcer and scorekeeper for the Shaunavon Badgers Senior Hockey team since the 1978/79 season (39 years).
He has performed the same volunteer duties for many minor hockey teams as well over the past four decades.
Averaging about 40 hockey games a season, at roughly three hours per contest, that works out to almost 5,000 hours of volunteer contributions.
But that represents only a fraction of his volunteer involvement.
Farnworth also worked as the PA announcer and scorekeeper for the Shaunavon Senior Baseball Badgers in both the South River Baseball League and SaskAlta Baseball League. His involvement with the team began in 1974 and continued until 2002 when the team folded before resuming again in 2015.
“No one ever grows up wanting to be a future scorekeeper,” laughed Farnworth. “That wasn’t exactly in my future plans growing up.”
He has also served as scorekeeper and PA announcer for many youth ball teams, the local ladies fastball team, the Shaunavon Slammers, as well as two of its men’s fastball teams (Shaunavon Wallbangers and Shaunavon Cyclones). Farnworth estimates that he has averaged about 30 games a year between his baseball and fastball commitments. That’s another 3,500 hours of volunteer work.
And that still doesn’t paint a complete picture of his volunteer contributions.
His involvement dates as far back as 1974 when he joined the CJSN team as a broadcaster. He spent two stints with the radio station (1974-1979 and 1986-1990) before going to work for The Shaunavon Standard where he has spent the last 27 years (1990 to 2017). He also spent two years working at the Shaunavon Credit Union (1972-74) and the Saskatchewan Liquor Board (1979-1986).
Along with his volunteer duties as a PA announcer and scorekeeper, Farnworth has covered local sports teams for the past 43 years.
He has provided media coverage, broadcasting coverage, and some PA announcing for the Shaunavon Shadows football team – as well as the Gull Lake Lions – since 1974, and guessing that he has averaged 10 football games per season during his career.
He’s done curling commentary (when the Grand Challenge, Men’s A and Ladies A finals were broadcast), covered basketball games, announced snowmobile races (in the 1970s), and assisted Joe Braniff for several years in the booth doing the PA announcing of the rodeo sponsors.
He has also emceed countless community events since 1974 including such functions as the year-end bowling banquets, Darkhorse Theatre, Elks events, amateur talent nights, and the SHS Wall of Fame luncheon.
He was also involved with the Kinsmen Radiothons for a number of years including the Jail ‘N Bail fundraisers.
He called Elk’s bingo during the 1990s and 2000s (as a back up to main caller Andy Cox) and also called the Grand Coteau Street Bingos for a number of years.
He did a number of radio parade broadcasts even after leaving the station and did colour commentary on a handful of television parade telecasts for CJFB-TV Swift Current as a volunteer. He also did a half dozen interviews on CJFB-TV’S “Meet the Guest” program on behalf of the local Chamber of Commerce.
The 62 year-old Farnworth is a life-long Shaunavon resident.
He grew up in the community and attended Shaunavon Public and High Schools from 1960-1972.
He is a history buff who enjoys reading sports books, newspapers and political books. He has a special interest in U.S. president John Kennedy.
“I’ve also enjoyed playing sports, like hockey, baseball, golf, curling, tennis and ping-pong,” said Farnworth.
He very conservatively estimates that he has attended roughly 3,500 games – whether it was writing stories, providing broadcast coverage, or working as a PA announcer/scorekeeper – during the past 43 years.
“You definitely don’t think about it when you are doing it, but it starts to add up,” said Farnworth. “I guess I never really thought about it before or realized how many games I had done. I was surprised by the number myself.”
“Fred’s impressive resume of volunteerism in our community makes him an ideal choice for this year’s award,” said Chamber of Commerce president Joanne Gregoire.
The Citizen of the Year Award is presented annually by the Shaunavon Chamber of Commerce to recognize the importance of volunteers in our community.
The Citizen of the Year selection committee (consisting of anonymous volunteers) take many factors – such as longevity and diversity of the volunteers’ contributions to the community – into account when making the selection.
“Once again all nominations submitted this year were for very worthy candidates and the decision was difficult as always,” said Chamber of Commerce president Joanne Gregoire. “The Chamber of Commerce encourages all nominators to continue to submit their nominations each year so that in time all of these worthy citizens will be honoured.”
Farnworth will be honoured at a Gala Banquet which will take place Saturday, May 6.