By JARRETT ARSENAULT
NORRIS ARM – Residents of Norris Arm may know the most recent recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal as the humble and giving “Nan Purchase.”
Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Minister Peter Penashue awarded Elizabeth Purchase the medal in Gander on Sept. 13. Each minister is given a certain number of medals to present to residents who show devotion to the betterment of their respective communities.
“I think all that day I did mostly was laugh to myself,” said Ms. Purchase.
Ms. Purchase’s dedication to her community spans over half a century, always giving and never expecting anything in return for her hard work. Her involvement with the church, and community events paint the picture of a model citizen. Evelyn Hollett, Ms. Purchase’s daughter, recalls her childhood view of her mother’s dedication to Norris Arm.
“Our house was the hairdressing place, when she’d do people’s hair with the perms back then it was Prom or Toni,” said Evelyn Hollett.
As a multitalented mother of three girls, Ms. Purchase also used her gifts in the kitchen and in sewing to help wherever she was needed, but it is the gift of caring that shines even now. During her time as a custodian at Hillview Academy, Ms. Purchase became a mom away from home to the students there.
“When it came recess time, I made sure they were ok, and when it came dinner time, just before dinner I get their dinner ready. I had a kitchen, and some had to have their soup warmed, some wanted a cup of coffee or a cup of coco,” she said.
Ms. Purchase said she would do it all again if she could, and some of those students still visit her to this day.
Dedication and Baking
Through her work with the church and in the community, there wasn’t an event or gathering Ms. Purchase would turn down. She would gladly lend a hand in any way she could, said Ms. Hollett.
“Wedding cakes or sewing and whatever needed to be done. If some committee wanted rolls (or pies) made they knew who to come to, to get them made,” said Ms. Hollett.
There was no shortage of baked goods for the community, added Ms. Purchase.
“Anniversary cakes, birthday cakes, cakes for the school, graduation,” said Ms. Purchase. “I do a lot of sewing I put in, a lot of baking I put in. I’m known for my marmalade.”
To the anonymous person who nominated Ms. Purchase, she wished to extend her appreciation, but is still surprised she was nominated.
“Whoever did it, bless their hearts, but I’m just one behind the scene, that’s all,” she said.