The Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society announced today that it has received the largest ever private donation to a Lighthouse in Canada.
At a news conference at the Maritime Museum, Society Director John Walls said that the Society will be receiving $550,000 over the next several years from the Westaway Charitable Foundation and its principals Peter and Brigitte Westaway. “The Westaways’ supremely generous donation offers us a beacon to help us navigate through our ambitious restoration project, a gesture that is outstanding in Canada. As the recipients, we are honoured that the Westaways have such confidence in our plans. Their donation allows us to proceed with a major restoration to both the lighthouse and the lighthouse reserve property.”
The relationship between the Westaway Charitable Foundation and the SPLPS started with a smaller donation of $1,000. “We heard about the group and thought it deserved some financial support, so we sent a cheque,” said Foundation President Peter Westaway. “Later when I met the board members and volunteers, I was impressed with the planning expertise and their vision of this site as a coastal asset open to all. I am proud to be able to partner with SPLPS and magnify the substantive community-based financial support they have been given to further this important maritime heritage project.”
Walls explained that the donation is for the restoration of the Lighthouse, and will need to be matched by donations from the community. The Society has been successful in raising local funds so far, and now needs to push hard to ensure the entire project to protect the Lighthouse can be completed.
Several other speakers joined the Society in thanking the Westaway Charitable Foundation for their remarkable gift, and also congratulated the Society on the success they have achieved.
Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan, spoke about how thrilled he was “to be here today to celebrate a foundational contribution, that will be matched by the community, I have no doubt. This is what ‘community’ is all about. This is why we gather together in groups and try to achieve positive outcomes for everyone. And the Shirley community is unparalleled in that regard.”
Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Area Director for the Capital Regional District was next up. “I like to think about legacy projects,” he said, “the ones that are going to still be here long after we’re gone. The Lighthouse is right up there as one of those projects – a fantastic, incredible achievement.”
Retired Senator Pat Carney, a staunch lighthouse protection advocate, has served as an advisor to the Society for a number of years. She said directly to the Westaway Charitable Foundation, how delighted she was to hear of this gift, because “I can’t think of any group that would make better use of the money. They’re committed, they have staying power, they’ve worked together and with all different levels of government. They’ll make good use of it.” And, to the Society volunteers, she said “this only happens because of you!”
Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison could not attend in person, but sent a letter expressing his “congratulations to the Board and volunteers whose efforts and hard work have gotten the SPLPS to where it is today.” He also congratulated and thanked the Westaway Charitable Foundation for their “significant commitment to the Lighthouse and its grounds. I know your contributions will be put to good use by the Society volunteers.”
In closing, Walls referred to the “original six” volunteers who first got together in 2003 to try and protect the Lighthouse. “It just epitomizes, to me, what can happen when a few people come together with a goal and a mission, and they stay with it.”
To view the news release from the press conference: SPLPS website news releaseApril3 (002)
To view a short video from the press conference please click here.