April 6, 2017
Posted by Nick Aroutzidis on Apr 06, 2017
April 12, 2017: Rural Urban Night. Keynote speaker Jennifer Christie.
This Week: Al Wakelin presented his classification talk to members today, as one who grew up in Stratford but spent his working career across Canada and overseas and who has now returned to his home town in retirement.
Alan Wakelin presenting his classification talk as main speaker.
Mr. Wakelin spoke of his early days in Stratford and his career goal of wanting to help others. It was in Grade 13 that he realized that he could best do that as a policeman. He applied to the RCMP (he admits to being beguiled by the Musical Ride), but was encouraged to complete university first. So off to Western for a degree in Political Science and then on to RCMP training in 1980 in Regina. While a tough and demanding course, Mr. Wakelin obviously enjoyed his time there and the comradeship; and he expressed his feeling that a sense of humour is so important in both facing challenges and enjoying what you are doing. All this, of course, helped by the presence of his “blue-eyed blonde” wife, with whom he has shared so much.
His first posting was to Nipawin, Saskatchewan where he acquired a wide experience with all aspects of policing, including a knowledge of sometimes bizarre laws, attended his first autopsy – a suicide (which it seems made quite an impression on him) and worked with detectives on investigations.
But other challenges awaited and Mr. Wakelin had the opportunity to do training in specialized security work which led to employment in counter-intelligence, surveillance, direct contact with agents among other aspects. Indeed, he is proud of his involvement in the first defection of a Chinese diplomat to Canada. In 1988, Mr. Wakelin returned to the RCMP and was posted to Prince George – which was a much bigger office (and had a disparate, almost frontier, populace) where he had to deal with Saturday night booze-ups involving lumberjacks, miners, farm labourers and other youth. But his time in Prince George also convinced him of the critical difference that a “community policing” approach in securing law and order and a respect for the police.
In 1991, Mr. Wakelin moved to White Rock and was posted to the Vancouver Airport – a whole new set of challenges. This included providing security for celebrities, rock stars, politicians, and hauling drunks off planes.
While he enjoyed that work, he had an even more interesting opportunity to go as part of a UN security team to Sarajevo, Serbia. After a year he was asked to stay on for a further 6 months but declined as he missed his family, and despite some PTSD effects, for which he received counselling, he was able to rejoin the RCMP and be posted to Langley, BC. There he worked with drug enforcement and serious & organized crime units among others. Fulfilling, fascinating but certainly not without its stresses and dangers.
Finally, Mr. Wakelin left the RCMP and joined McDonalds in 2003 as their security manager for Western Canada. In that role, he conducted investigations, assisted with restaurant design and security planning, provided consultation to franchisees, participated in security for the Olympic Games (McDonalds was an official sponsor), and again worked with senior executives and celebrities at corporate events.
This all led to his retirement back to Stratford in 2014, where he is enjoying community volunteering, his involvement with Rotary and spending time with his wife and family. A welcome addition to the Stratford Rotary family.
Scribe : Guy Chadsey
Our new Sargent at Arms for next 3 months Katelyn Aitcheson.
Guests: Today we welcomed David Knoppert - London Hyde Park, Stuart Arkett – Stratford, Montana Wilson – Stratford, Kelly Williams – Stratford, Charles Ryde – Stratford, Jean Aitcheson - Festival City Rotary Club, Pat Redshaw - Stratford Libro.
David Knoppert from London Hyde Park Rotary Club talking about combined London Rotary Clubs project in Haiti and Hundred Holes for Haiti golf marathon on June 14.
Draw: The draw prize today was donated by a Anonymous donor and was won by Walt Bathe.
Make-ups: No report
April’s Attendance Committee: Patty Riehl (I/C), Geeza Wordofa, Sarah Hamza, Gary Morris, Pat Shewen, Ron Shaw, Roger Black, Mark Smith, Tony Carter