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Nanaimo Concert Band honours longtime supporters from the community

Columbia Bakery receives Unsung Hero Award for providing treats at Christmas concerts
Nanaimo Concert Band music director Dave Fullerton presents the Unsung Hero Award to Rolf Hesser of Columbia Bakery while band members Shari and John Barker look on. (Photo courtesy Roy Hesser)

For years the Columbia Bakery has been donating baked goods to the Nanaimo Concert Band for its annual Christmas concerts and this week, in a show a gratitude, the band offered the bakery a treat of its own.

On Monday the NCB presented Rolf and Marie Hesser of Columbia Bakery with its Unsung Hero Award, which since 2005 has been conferred upon those the band determines have “quietly and consistently assisted the band to serve the Nanaimo community by providing good musical entertainment for all to enjoy. The purpose of the award is to recognize those good deeds so that they do not go unnoticed.”

Every year the NCB holds its Christmas charity concert, with admission by donation to the Salvation Army food bank, and for as long as Marie can remember the bakery has been proving Christmas cookies, stollen, fruit cake, gingerbread and more. Due to COVID-19, this is the first Christmas in 148 years that the event will not be taking place.

“Like in every organization you get the key people who run things and they’re always getting the thank yous and the praises all the time but there’s always those people in the background that you don’t even know that have been there every night,” said Shari Barker, a member of the NCB executive.

Barker said the Unsung Hero Award has so far recognized people including the volunteers who help the band set up, the lighting crew at the Port Theatre and “the lady who puts out the coffee every Monday night [at rehearsal] and cleans up.”

She said it was an easy decision to add the Columbia Bakery to the list of recipients. She said the band can always rely on the Hessers to provide “huge amounts” of baked goods and they never ask for anything in return.

“It helps out the community and they don’t even question it,” Barker said. “They just bring it for us. It’s extremely generous, really.”

Marie said donating to the NCB concert is a way of giving back to the community and she and her husband appreciate the recognition.

“We’ve had the bakery now 49 years, and in 49 years people of Nanaimo have supported us and Salvation Army has always been there for us when we needed something,” she said.

Although the NCB charity Christmas show is cancelled for this year, those who would have attended can still support the Salvation Army through a link on the band’s website.

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