The Observer presents Hometown Heroes, a feature celebrating unsung heroes, individuals who go above and beyond for their community.
Gee Cleverley considers White Lake neighbour Alan Cook to be a hometown hero.
“There is literally nothing he won’t do to help,” said Cleverley.
“From snow clearing, looking after homes of…snowbirds, taking a look at a tired lawn mower, fixing pretty much anything you bring his way, no charge!”
Cook is also a captain with the White Lake Fire Department. He’s been a Legion member for close to 40 years and organizes the Remembrance Day ceremony in Sorrento.
“Yup! He’s that guy!,” said Cleverley.
The Observer reached Cook by phone as he was on his way to help fix a neighbour’s door. He gave a short laugh when informed he’d been nominated as a Hometown Hero.
“The things that I do, I do because it’s community and it’s the neighbours and that’s the way I am,” said Cook. “My 20 years in the military taught me lots.”
Cook has been a firefighter for 16 years, 11 of them with the Shuswap Fire Department.
“Heavy duty mechanic and millwright are my two trade tickets so that helps,” said Cook. “I’m a captain up at the hall so I look after the equipment and I’m one of the two drivers we have in our hall, so every call I have to go because we’re short of drivers and we’re short of people…
“We’re a small community and getting 30 to 40 year olds that are reasonably fit that can learn quickly is kind of difficult. So the old fellas, I’m 77 – I’m supposed to be ‘retired’ but it’s worked out to be just a word.”
Cook said he served close to 20 years with the British Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, first as a mechanic and later as an engineer. He immigrated to Canada in 1982 and lived in Alberta until 2003, when he and his spouse discovered the Shuswap.
“We were coerced into coming down on a house boat trip in 2003… Five months later we were living in Sorrento,” said Cook.
Five years ago the Cooks moved to White Lake and Alan, a fishing enthusiast, loves it there.
“I have two or three neighbours that own properties on the lake opposite of me on Wilho (Road) and they have acres of grass and they’re rarely there…So I cut the grass and use their docks with my boat,” said Alan. “I work on the barter system which works really well for me.”
Alan explained when he helps people by fixing things, it’s not just about giving back to community, but also because he has the skills to do it.
“Gratitude is something I don’t take too well to,” said Alan, “because a lot of the stuff I do is so easy for me. I’m not bragging; I’ve been doing it for 60 years. I guess it’s kind of a form of giving back.”
If you know someone who is a Hometown Hero, please send their name, email, phone number and a brief write-up about them to firstname.lastname@example.org.