KAGAWONG – From his first taste of volunteering, joining the air cadets when he was younger to his work in helping to develop, renovate and improve the outdoor rink in Kagawong, Andrew Preyde has always liked to help out others.
“I guess my first taste of volunteering came when I joined the air cadets at 14 years old,” Mr. Preyde, told the Recorder. “I learned a lot from the cadets, in society and helping people out.”
“So, I learned at a young age how important it is to help people,” said Mr. Preyde.
As a youngster he was an altar boy in church, and was pulled out of school several times to help with funerals, weddings etc.
“And being on the Island I want to give back to the community, and help to make things easier for people.”
Mr. Preyde has been on Manitoulin Island for 29 years and has been a member of the Billings Township Volunteer Fire Department for 27 years; having also served on the Central Manitoulin Volunteer Fire Department for eight years as well.”
“I am originally from Oakville, Ontario, and married an Island girl,” said Mr. Preyde. After four years of marriage the couple split up and, “she left the Island, but I stayed. But, we had two beautiful kids.”
He has had various jobs while on the Island, but after his father passed away he opened Preyde’s Handy Andy lawn maintenance business in 2004 and has been working independently at this business for the past 17 years.
“I have lived on Newburn Street in Kagawong for the past 23 years,” said Mr. Preyde. “I’ve been together with Tracy Paris for 11 years as of this upcoming May 24th weekend.”
He has been a minor hockey referee for the past eight years, and while he gets paid a minimal amount for working league games (he also officiates at sportsman tournaments, for example), he also helps out by mentoring new officials. He officiates not only on Manitoulin, but Espanola and on the North Shore.
Another program that Mr. Preyde has enjoyed being a part of is the First Shift hockey program through Bauer, which provides an opportunity for kids who have never skated or played hockey to learn how. “This program, which has to be sponsored by a local hockey association, was first started by the Gore Bay hockey association, and it was held in M’Chigeeng about four years ago. An application has to be made every year for funding to hold the program, but we couldn’t apply last year (because of the pandemic). I’m not sure at this point if anyone has applied for next season (2021-2022).
Recently, Mr. Preyde was appointed as a member of the Billings township parks, recreation and wellness committee. “The biggest thing on our plate is the outdoor rink in Kagawong. I’ve helped out with the rink (getting it ready every season, and helping to clean and maintain it) for about 18-19 years.”
“During COVID when arenas weren’t open, it was important to have this rink here, and a lot of people, but adults and kids can’t afford to rent ice in an arena. So it’s important to have this outdoor rink, for everyone,” continued Mr. Preyde. “I help out for the kids and adults, to help them have an activity they can enjoy outdoors. When a little kid smiles at you for and thanks you for helping to have the arena, it means the world.”
When he first moved to Manitoulin, Mr. Preyde tried to bring the Air Cadets program. Although this wasn’t to be “I’m so glad to see the Sea Cadets being formed on the Island. It provides young people a great opportunity to learn about, and help the community.”