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Three locals receive Character in Action Awards in Abbotsford

Annual awards recognize ‘worthy and inspiring’ citizens
Character Abbotsford Society presented its annual Character in Action Awards on May 9 at the Ag-Rec Building. (Submitted photo)

The Character Abbotsford Society recognized three locals at their council meeting on May 9.

The recipients of the 2024 Character in Action Awards are Diane Turner, Craig Toews and Kezia Holtvluwer.

Character Abbotsford chair Vijay Manuel said the Character Council is honoured to recognize the three “worthy and inspiring” recipients.

“Each individual is symbolic of tens of thousands of individuals who live out respect, responsibility, integrity, empathy, courage and service in their everyday lives,” he said.

Turner was recognized for her three decades of service with the Abbotsford Soccer Association.

She was nominated by Ian Knight, who said Turner would often spend “her own resources to purchase cleats and shin pads, ensuring that every child had the opportunity to experience the joy of soccer.”

By doing so, she made “it her personal mission to secure equipment for newcomers and low-income families.”

RELATED: Retired police chief honoured by Character Abbotsford

Mayor Ross Siemens honoured Turner for her “spirit of community and selflessness.”

Toews was recognized by Shirley Wilson as “a man with character overflowing.”

He served with the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce for eight years, including as interim CEO during the economic downturn.

Current chamber CEO Alex Mitchell said Toews’ actions exemplify “true character – the willingness to step up and lead, and to offer service without hesitation.

“The organization would not be where it is today without Craig’s exemplary leadership.”

Holtvluwer, a pediatric nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, is the youth recipient.

Nominated by Naomi Stewart, Holtvluwer began her career at Maplewood Care Home and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice because she “wanted to walk with families through their hardest moments, to hold their hands and their children’s hands.”

This care extends to her interactions with the community, where Holtvluwer “is always ready with an encouraging message or a phone call for others having a hard time – or dropping off something thoughtful and homemade.”

Vice-chair Jory Smallenberg said Holtvluwer’s “purposeful actions and steadfast compassion are an example to us all.”

The Character Abbotsford Society presents three awards to residents every year. Learn more at or on Instagram and X (@characterabby).

Mayor Ross Siemens presented Diane Turner with the Character in Action Award on May 9. (Submitted photo) Mayor Ross Siemens presented Diane Turner with the Character in Action Award on May 9. (Submitted photo)
Craig Toews, shown here during a past event at University of the Fraser Valley, is a recipient of the Character in Action Award. He was unable to attend the awards event on May 9, but his wife, Eleanore, accepted it on his behalf. (Darren McDonald/UFV)

Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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