Debbie Fawcett

Debbie Fawcett, a longtime municipal politician, championed the restoration of Horning’s Mills community hall.

June 19, 2018 | | Over the Next Hill

Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder

At 75, Debbie Fawcett is convinced she has the volunteer gene in her DNA. She is front and centre whenever an opportunity to improve her community presents itself.

When she and her husband Bob, a cattle farmer now retired, were raising their five children, Debbie drove each of them to 4-H meetings, then continued as leader long after the couple’s youngest had moved on to other things. During that time Debbie’s vehicle, always a Nissan and usually a pickup, was a familiar sight on the roads of Melancthon and Mulmur where she was a rural mail carrier for 20 years.

She is a life member of the Women’s Institute and an active member of Knox Presbyterian Church in Dunedin. In addition, she has always quilted and sewed, and on occasion even taught needlework to young neighbours.

A perpetual learner, Debbie took university courses by correspondence, an evening course to learn woodworking, and art classes on her way to becoming a commercial artist.

She did a stint selling real estate, ran a catering business and, in 1992, launched a 19-year career in local politics, serving as councillor, deputy mayor and mayor of Melancthon. As deputy mayor and mayor, she also represented the township on Dufferin County council, sitting over the years on every council committee.

During her time on the local political scene, Debbie learned the Horning’s Mills community hall was at risk of being condemned. As part of a group who rallied support to save the building, she was at the forefront throughout, doing everything from preparing funding applications and organizing volunteer work crews to co-ordinating the potluck dinners, euchre nights and raffles to finance the project. With the help of private donations and provincial grants, the building has gradually been brought back to code: the washrooms and septic system have been upgraded, parking added, and an elevator installed to make the building accessible.

Debbie Fawcett, a longtime municipal politician, championed the restoration of Horning’s Mills community hall. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Debbie Fawcett, a longtime municipal politician, championed the restoration of Horning’s Mills community hall. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Though she still sits on the hall’s board of management and dreams of more upgrades to the building, she happily reports that younger members of the community are stepping up to carry on the vision.

Debbie’s motivation for a lifetime of volunteering? “If it needs fixing, I want to fix it,” she says.

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

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