It was a night to celebrate the best thing about Niagara-on-the-Lake — the people that live here and help shape our community.
The Spirit of Niagara Awards celebrated some of NOTL’s most outstanding citizens last night at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, in what many people in the audience said was the biggest and best awards ceremony yet.
Each award winner was first given accolades, followed by a big screen video to reveal the winner.
New to the awards this year was the Dan Patterson Youth Leadership Award, which was taken home by Owen Bjorgan, an environmental activist, local entrepreneur of Biophilic Hiking Tours and former Lake Report Nature’s Lens columnist.
The Christopher Newton Award for Extraordinary Vision in Business was presented to Gretzky Estate Winery.
The Peter Ling Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit was given to Paul Harber and Ravine Vineyard.
The Community Leadership Award was given to the Niagara Pumphouse Art Centre.
Company of the Year Award was presented to Niagara Trailers.
The Lord Mayor’s Award of Excellence to the Citizen of the Year Award was given to Debi Pratt.
The Celia Liu Award for excellence in hospitality was given to Leigh Atherton and David Watt of the Garrison House.
The last award of the night, the Chamber of Commerce Chair’s Award Services was given to Niagara-on-the-Lake Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services.
Presenters for the awards included outgoing Niagara College president Dan Patterson (by video), Lord Mayor Betty Disero, Coun. Wendy Cheropita, Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Andrew Niven, Shaw Festival executive director Tim Jennings, Angela Redekopp, Stacey Mulholland, and NOTL Chamber of Commerce chair Paul MacIntyre.
Disero said she appreciates the chamber putting on the awards, because they “encourage everyone in the town to be involved and achieve their best.”
She said each award ceremony gets “better and better.”
This year with a new venue and the addition of film introductions, it was the best yet, Disero said.
“The chamber could not have selected a better Citizen of the Year this year. Debi Pratt is forever giving to individuals, to neighbours, to the town and to charities, and has done so for a number of years. She also helped put Niagara-on-the-Lake on the map with our wine and icewine, and so I really think that Debi is very well deserving of this award.”