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Two pioneer winners highlight 19th Ethels

Jennifer Larsen is shocked to learn she was honoured Friday afternoon with the Ethel Tibbits Women of Distinction Pioneer award, along with good friend Olive Bassett. Touchstone
Jennifer Larsen is shocked to learn she was honoured Friday afternoon with the Ethel Tibbits Women of Distinction Pioneer award, along with good friend Olive Bassett. Touchstone's Michael McCoy helped organizers stage the surprise, which earned them a standing ovation.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

It was a doubly great ending to the 19th annual Ethel Tibbits Women of Distinction Awards on Friday afternoon, as Olive Bassett and Jennifer Larsen were acknowledged for their decades of volunteer work in the community with the Pioneer award and a standing ovation.

A volunteer in Richmond since the 1970s, and a champion for those with mental health issues, Larsen earned high praise from her peers for her dedication and hard work.

Bassett recalled how her first volunteer job was folding newspapers back in the 1930s for then Richmond Review publisher and editor Ethel Tibbits, after whom the Ethels are named.

In a video produced by RF Productions and cinematographer Desy Cheng, Eva Busich-Veloso, coordinator of Seniors Services for the City of Richmond, was effusive in her praise for Bassett.

And Belinda Boyd, a community engagement leader for Vancouver Coastal Health, was equally complimentary of Larsen.

The winners were also named in five categories, with Richmond East MLA Linda Reid winning in the community category for her more than two decades of work as a political and community leader.

"I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award. Linda has touched so many lives and is a remarkable community leader, as well as an inspiration to women," said her nominator.

Winning in the sports category was Denise Coutts.

While her health concerns have proven to be an incredible challenge, Coutts continues to overcome them and devotes her energy towards empowering others with her passion and love of sport.

In the youth category, Maggie Kong came away as the winner.

"She is an avid volunteer, leader and a true role model for the youth of today," one person wrote of Kong, who is chair of Financial Literacy for Youth and who co-chaired Zenith in Action.

Tiffany Kirk, a student at UBC who runs her own physical fitness company Four Shapes Training, was selected in the business category.

A former competitive dancer, Kirk gives presentations in local schools, showing young girls they can be any shape they want through regular fitness and healthy eating.

Adrienne Moore's decades of work championing the arts earned her the win in the arts category.

A retired teacher who realized the power of arts to inspire while in working in Northern Ireland, she developed arts programs for children with special needs.

The Ethels has raised more than $200,000 for local women's charities, including primary beneficiary Nova House, a shelter for women and their children escaping domestic violence.

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