By Steve Hubrecht

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Panorama Mountain Resort resident Bruce Hamstead has been named Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Area F volunteer of the year (VOTY).

Hamstead earned the accolade for his decades of volunteering with Panorama’s ski racing program and with the Panorama Subdivision Owners Association. He was formally recognized during an Area F town hall meeting in Windermere on Monday, Oct. 23.

He told the Pioneer the award was unexpected.

“My reaction was, number one, surprise. And, number two, humbled,” said Hamstead. “When you think of all the people who are volunteers helping the valley, from firefighters to the Health Care Auxiliary Society, and how much they do, well, how it is that I am being grouped with them is a bit of a mystery to me, and it is certainly humbling.”

Hamstead first came to the Columbia Valley more than 55 years ago, when he bought a home at Panorama in 1967. Not long after arriving here, he started volunteering with Panorama’s youth ski racing program. He became a national and international level ski racing coach, was a delegate for Canadian groups and global ski conferences, and has been acknowledged in particular for his efforts to help improve the quality, performance and reliability of the safety netting used in ski races. Hamstead also was deputy chairman of the organizing committee when Panorama recently hosted the World Junior Alpine Ski Championships. 

He told the Pioneer that skiing has always appealed to him because he loves “just being out in the mountains.” Hamstead explained he’s been very lucky to be able to ski around the world and “all over, the people who you meet in the mountains, who you meet skiing, tend to be interesting, free-thinking people. It’s a wonderful sport in that way.”

The start structure for races at Panorama  — the Hammer Hut —  was dedicated in Hamstead’s name several years ago.

Hamstead served as president of the Panorama Subdivision Owners Association for years, a role in which he interacted with provincial agencies and helped provide services to the resort community. Asked about that role, Hamstead was modest, trying to pass off his volunteer dedication as “self interest” since the services he was working to help provide were ones that he benefited from as a Panorama homeowner. He did concede, however, that even if started from self-interest “it did become more inclusive, trying to make sure the interests of the resort at Panorama were looked after, dealing with the highways department and water rights boards and things like that.”

In a speech at the Windermere town hall meeting, RDEK Area F director Susan Clovechok said Hamstead has worked to ensure the growth and sustainability of Panorama’s ski racing program, and that “he was always at the forefront, ensuring Panorama was a venue that enjoyed global acclaim.”

Clovechok continued that “Bruce has volunteered countless hours that have benefited and will benefit young athletes from our communities, his neighbourhood and the tourism sector for many years to come.” She also passed on comments from Panorama Mountain Resort chief executive officer Steve Paccagnan, who described Bruce as “the heart and soul of our local community” and that “his selflessness shines through in the countless hours he dedicates to helping others.”