He couldn’t stay away. Almost until his last day, Tom Cameron was giving his time and energy helping people.
Cameron, 74, died Saturday in Ridge Meadows Hospital after a nine-month fight with leukemia.
He was taken to hospital the after spending Friday at the Albion fairgrounds, helping the Christmas Hamper Society wind up the season.
“He was exhausted and very weak,” said friend Lorraine Bates, who worked with Cameron for more than two decades, producing Country Fest, working to ensure that Ghost Ridge Haunted House scared people in aid of a good cause, and that the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society helped out the needy at Christmas time.
“It’s a huge loss. He’ll be watching us,” she added.
Cameron had recently received the Canadian Fair Champion award, presented by the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. He wasn’t able to make it to the convention in New Brunswick for the presentation, but was presented with the award Dec. 9 at the Maple Ridge branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“That was one of his goals, was to get to that, so he did it.”
Cameron had known for while that he was running out of time and was reliant on transfusions. He felt guilty about the blood he used during that time. But Bates assured him that a blood drive will be organized in his honour, to more than replenish what he used.
Bates said the e-mails that have come in just reinforce how the community feels about him.
“Our community has lost a tremendous champion. A very sad day indeed,” Heather Treleaven, with the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie Seniors Network, said on Facebook.
“So sad to hear this. Tom was a wonderful man who made such a difference,” added Pitt Meadows Coun. Tracy Miyashita.
When he received his award, Cameron was described as “tireless when it comes to Country Fest, from building livestock pens to hauling livestock to farmers markets, schools and community events, to helping to build a float to taking requests from the many sections of the fair for his creative woodwork projects for display purposes.”
Cameron got Bates involved with Country Fest. His favourite charity was Cops for Cancer.
The evening when he received the award, he got three ovations, said Bates.
It was almost like a funeral, only he was there, she added.
Cameron started working with Country Fest 25 years ago, when it was called the Ridge Meadows Fair.
“I got sucked in here. I came down here to be the announcer for a Musical Ride show and that was in 1992. And I just never left,” he had said earlier.
Bates said a celebration of Cameron’s life will take place on Earth Day in April. A memorial tree – mountain ash – will be planted in his honour beside the stage at the Albion fairgrounds.