Surrey firefighter Dylan Van Rooyen receives the Medal of Citizenship from Minister of Technology

Surrey firefighter Dylan Van Rooyen receives the Medal of Citizenship from Minister of Technology

Residents’ bravery, leadership recognized

Surrey residents among those recognized with medals for ‘outstanding contributions’

A pair of Surrey residents were among more than two dozen B.C. citizens who were celebrated this week for their selfless contributions.

Firefighter Dylan Van Rooyen received the Medal of Good Citizenship Tuesday at Hall 17 in South Surrey.

Monday, at RCMP headquarters in Green Timbers, Yvonne Bernardy-Dearden was among 21 people to receive a Bravery Award from the Royal Canadian Humane Association.

The Medal of Good Citizenship was launched last year to recognize “people who have made an amazing contribution.”

“It’s not about seeking that recognition, it’s just about doing,” Surrey-Tynehead MLA Amrik Virk said Tuesday, prior to pinning the medal on Van Rooyen.

Virk said Van Rooyen was chosen from among “hundreds” of nominees – all people “that make this province strong… make this city what it is.”

While all were deserving, Van Rooyen stood out, Virk said.

Encouraged to volunteer at a young age by his parents, Van Rooyen started with Special Olympics, and went on to give countless hours to the Child Development Foundation of B.C. – where he currently serves as a board director – the Tong Louie Family YWCA and Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society.

CDFBC chief executive officer Gerald Bremault praised Van Rooyen for his leadership, describing him as “a wonderful role model.”

Virk noted that one teacher who supported Van Rooyen’s nomination described the firefighter as “the kind of role model I want for my students.”

Van Rooyen, 31, told attendees – who included his mom Carol Van Rooyen – that he hopes his award inspires others to get involved.

Admittedly “uncomfortable” being in the spotlight, Van Rooyen told Peace Arch News the award also “inspires me.”

“It shows I’m actually having an impact,” he said.

Other Medal of Good Citizenship presentations have been held across the province; Van Rooyen is the first Surrey recipient.

Bernardy-Dearden received her honour – a Bronze Medal for Bravery – from B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, in recognition of her role last year in saving a senior couple from their burning home.

Bernardy-Dearden was on her way to work at the Vancouver airport just before 6 a.m. May 25, 2015 when she spotted flames coming from the side of Andy and Carole Johnston’s house, in the 17000-block of 0 Avenue.

Her quick actions – she called 911 and persisted in trying to alert the residents until she was able to guide them out of the smoke – are credited with saving the couple’s lives.

Others cited for bravery Monday hailed from communities including Wood Lake, Courtenay, West Kelowna, Abbotsford and Crawford Bay.

Yvonne Bernardy-Dearden