“I’m gonna go as long as I can,” says Herb Duncan
At nearly 102-years-old it is hard to imagine being able to walk down to the store let alone being an active member of the community and helping anyone who asks for it.
That is exactly what Herbert Duncan does with his life for the past long while of his life.
“I think it’s been about 40 or 50 years I’ve been volunteering. Maybe 60,” Herb said with a chuckle. “It’s been a long time.”
It was for those many years of volunteering that Herb won the Saskatchewan Senior Volunteer Centenarian Award presented by the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism on Sept. 25 in Regina.
Herb was one of six seniors over the age of 90 who are still an “active volunteer in his or her community” nominated for the Centenarian Award.
Nominations were open to all Saskatchewan residents 55 years or older. A nomination needed to be supported by two letters along with the nomination form.
According to family members of Herb, Barry Elderkin and Doug Haroldson wrote “very complimentary” letters of support for the nomination.
The nomination itself was spearheaded by Shirley Humphries.
“I didn’t know it was happening. It was something I didn’t expect,” said Herb about the nomination.
According to Dorothy Duncan, Herb’s daughter-in-law, there was a video for each of the nominees in the categories. The short video was a minute or two long and summed up the volunteer efforts of the nominees.
“We could not believe it, there had to be over 100 years of volunteering in the one category alone,” said Dorothy over the phone. “For him to be chosen was really something.”
The winner from each category was chosen by a group of judges who reviewed each nominee and their contributions along with the letters of support.
When the name Herbert Duncan was announced as the winner and he went on stage to accept his award, Herb was honoured by a standing ovation from the gathered audience.
“He was the only one to have a standing ovation, it was really amazing,” said Larry, Herb’s son.
“I was really happy,” said Herb about receiving what he said was an unexpected award.
Herb was especially surprised by the amount of support he received. There were 32 people there to support him, many family. He had said he wanted family there, but he didn’t expect all of his family to come.
“My son Neil and his wife Peggy flew in from British Columbia,” said Herb.
Even though his 102nd birthday is in November, Herb is not ready to stay still and ready to continue volunteering and helping those who need it.
If there is something I can do to help, I will. – Herb Duncan
Even at an advanced age, Herb is still seen around town driving his little car to grab the mail and groceries for his neighbours. He also organizes his band to play music for some of the seniors around Maple Creek, playing his fiddle.
Larry even mentioned Herb still does some fiddle repair, and he started making fiddles himself at the tender age of 80. He even went so far as asking this reporter if I wanted one and offered to teach me to play.
“I like music and it’s good for you,” said Herb.
Like it he must, as he still makes time to practice, even though he has been playing the fiddle since his father taught him when he was 12 or 13 years old.
Herb is the primary caregiver for his wife Connie as well, making sure she has everything she needs.
Herb was a Shriner once, and made $10,000 for the organization by selling calendars.
“The most raised by one individual in Saskatchewan,” said Herb with a proud smile.
There was once a time when Herb was looked at as the town’s handyman, fixing anything that needed it when called upon.
“If there is something I can do to help, I will,” he said.
His family can recall his want to help going above and beyond, when one Christmas they received a phone call asking for Herb to come look at their stove because the turkey wasn’t cooked. Sure enough Herb grabbed his coat and went out to help a member of the community in need.
“It is such a wonderful thing to happen and it gives us all a great example to live up to,” said Dorothy.
Herb was awarded a certificate, a statue, a Saskatchewan pin and a letter from the Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield which stated, “This well-deserved recognition shows how much you are appreciated by those whose lives you have impacted.”
“I’m gonna go on as long as I can,” said Herb.