“Simon, you put out the fires,” Christine Vanlerberg sang to retired fire chief Simon Grypma during the Osprey Foundation’s fundraiser at the Prestige last Wednesday, which raised $11,800. She was accompanied by Roger Luscombe and deputy police chief Paul Burkart, who jammed out on his guitar.
“It was a take on The Doors’ ‘Come on, baby, light my fire’,” organizer Vivien Bowers told the Star, in recounting her favourite moments from the evening. “I thought all the musical tributes were fantastic, and there were some really great speeches.”
The evening included a lively performance from a brass quintet as well as speeches from prominent members of the community such as Mayor Deb Kozak and Grypma himself. In total 45 businesses and individuals contributed.
“One of Simon’s friends for over 40 years, John Monk, showed up from out of town and gave a great surprise speech,” said Bowers. She was also moved by the tribute given by David Sprague.
“David told the room how Simon was the one who helped him turn his life around so he could become a contributing member to society. He was a former alcoholic, not in great shape, and Simon saw the potential in him.”
Sprague said it was because of Grypma’s personal intervention he was able to sound the alarm the night the Kerr block burned down.
The night was intended as a celebration of first responders. Grypma retired as chief last year.
“Not only were there an incredible number of first responders there, but we had amazing contributions from all over the community,” said Bowers. “This was a big tribute and the community came out because Simon is such a beloved and revered figure here in Nelson.”
Grypma poses with his brother Case (left), sister Wilma Champlin and brother George Grypma.
City councillor Anna Purcell and her partner Gary Ockenden were in attendance.
Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak was in attendance with her husband Peter.Grypma spends some time with current fire chief Len MacCharles (left). Grypma poses with police chief Wayne Holland (above) and Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall (below).