Former fire chief Simon Grypma retired last year as one of Nelson’s most popular and longest serving firefighters. On Dec. 2 the Osprey Foundation is honouring him with a fundraiser at the Prestige.
But according to Grympa, “it’s not all about me.”
“First of all, I’m quite honoured that the Osprey Foundation chose me to be recognized this year,” Grypma told the Star, noting he’s among good company — last year the night was dedicated to outgoing city councillor Donna Macdonald. “But really this dinner is about the first responders in our community.”
Grypma, who has also worked as a paramedic, said the co-operation between police, fire and ambulance services in Nelson is unique. He’s intensely proud of the work they did together.
“There was never a real turf war here, because we’re a small enough community that we know we have to work together. Whether it was the police helping pull fire hose or the paramedics providing oxygen and helping carry patients, it’s a real working effort by all the members, and that’s what I want to celebrate.”
Grypma was thrilled to learn an anonymous donor has agreed to match all local money raised by 50 per cent, bumping every $10 donation to $15.
“The money will boost Osprey’s Community Fund,” said executive director Vivien Bowers. “Mostly, though, this is a community tribute to Simon, and we’d like everyone to come out and join us as we celebrate the chief.”
Osprey’s P’nina Shames said a number of “quirky” auction items have been donated.
“The fire department is donating a chance to operate the jaws of life (under the direction of Nelson Fire Rescue) to remove doors in seconds, turn a hardtop into a convertible and break windows safely.”
Attendees also have an opportunity to see the city from the top of the fire department’s 85-foot ladder truck.
“And a romantic CPR training course for two. Nothing sets the mood like chocolates, Barry White on the stereo, and perfecting the Heimlich maneuver on your partner,” she said.
There will be spoken and musical tributes, snacks, a no host bar, and a special Nelson Firehouse blend of Oso Negro coffee.
“This is our second annual community tribute,” said Bowers. “We urge everyone to come out and raise a glass in Simon’s honour. He’s done an amazing amount for this community.”
Bowers called Grypma a “good sport” for fronting the fundraiser.
“I accepted the offer because it’s a community-driven fundraiser and the money remains in our community,” said Grypma. “All the money donated is going to stay right here in Nelson.”
The gala begins at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2.
Correction – An earlier version of this story erroneously called the gala a “dinner”.