our awards

Lorne Heycock Memorial trophy

Oakridge Optimist Club Outstanding Member

This award is awarded to a member of the club at the discretion of the President to recognize that member's contribution to the club. The list of recipients is below.


Life Members

The President has the discretion to award Life Membership to Optimist International to members of the club that make exceptional and continued contributions to their club over an extended period of time. Optimists Jane Antoniak, Randy Brewe, Jim Easton, Ron Fisher, Rick Gillespie, Doug Mackay, Eric Riley and Norm Smith have all attained that status.

Optimist Bruce Pope was awarded Life Membership at our dinner meeting on March 31, 2022. Congratulations Optimist Bruce.

Past Presidents

It is an honour to be elected to lead this organization. The following is a list of those members who stood for election to the post and carried out their duties to benefit the youth of our community.

2022 London West Community Service Award - Rick Gillespie

Rick has been a tireless volunteer with the Optimist Club for over 25 years; lending a hand at the board and with the many club outreach programs in the community. Rick is a key part of the planning and execution of countless community BBQ events, community days, fundraising events, golf tournaments, and Ronald McDonald House meals. Rick was a key organizer of the club’s 50th and 60th year celebrations where Oakridge Park improvement initiatives accompanied celebration events. Although focused on the Optimist Club of London – Oakridge Acres, Rick also led the building of, and is a sitting member of the new Fanshawe club. In addition, Rick is the current Lieutenant Governor for the Optimist district; leading major joint city of London and club initiatives. Rick’s volunteerism goes well beyond the Optimist club, with involvement with CP Open, CN Open, Special Olympics and the Canadian University/College golf championships. A true friend of youth, Rick has made London West a better place.

2021 Association of Fundraising Professionals Recognition

Our club has been recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals London & Region Chapter as a result of a nomination from Ronald McDonald House Southwest Ontario. You may follow this link to the AFP website or read the article below. Thank you to the staff and volunteers at Ronald McDonald House for nominating us for this recognition.

2020 London West Community Service Award - Jim Easton

Jim has exemplified volunteerism during his 35 years as an Optimist. His service to the community has inspired many others to join in, making his club one of the largest in Southwestern Ontario. Jim is also a dedicated volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, giving his time to make life better for families dealing with serious childhood illness.

2019 London West Community Service Award - Randy Brewe

Randy has dedicated over 30 years to volunteerism as a coach and through his involvement with Knights of Columbus, St. Joseph's Health Care and the London Jet Museum. During his 24 years on the board of the Oakridge Optimist Club, he has served in many roles - from Treasurer to chief barbequer - and is always ready to help.


2019 - Bob Stark Memorial Field Dedication

On Saturday, July 6th, 2019 our club joined with our Baseball association to dedicate the lower diamond at Oakridge Optimist Community Park to Optimist Bob Stark. The ceremony occurred at 9:00 am during the annual Bob Stark Rookie Ball Tournament. The ceremony was attended by Optimists, Baseball Association members, Bob's family and members of the community. Optimist Jim Easton gave a thoughtful overview of what Bob meant to our club and community.

I am an Oakridge Optimist.

Bob Stark was an Optimist and member of our club for 47 years. He served with the honour of Life Member for almost 30 years.

Bob had only just joined the club when in 1972 he called me to come to his house for a meeting. Something about help was needed in the baseball program. It would be the first of many meetings in the Stark living room. Within two seasons I was coaching a team, convening the PeeWee house league, umpiring and helping out with the T-Ball tournament. It was easy to do because Bob supported you and he led by a committed and enthusiastic example.

In 1978 Bob became President of the Oakridge Optimists and he invited me to an Optimist dinner meeting. Members certainly picked on Bob especially kidding him about his height. But Bob could take it and give it back equally as well. My career took me to Toronto and Ottawa so I did not join at that time but I returned to London in 1981 and Bob got me actively involved on the Optimist hockey committee and later he sponsored me in to the club.

Bob served as chair of both the Optimist baseball and hockey programs and spent many years on both committees. Through his various club roles Bob was able to ensure that the sports programs maintained fairness, quality and continuity. He was a baseball and hockey leader but he also helped recruit our first soccer chair and ensured that the program got off the ground and was a success.

As an Optimist Bob’s priorities certainly were our sports programs but he supported club events whether of a social or fundraising nature. I have memories of his participation in the Bunny Bundle canoe race, skate-a-thons and car rallies back in the 90’s. More recently when our Trivia Night fundraiser began Bob was one of the first to purchase tickets in support. Not 2 tickets, but 2 full tables, 16 tickets and he gave them to his coaching colleagues.

Bob passed along many legacies to Oakridge but perhaps the most valuable was his dedication to membership. Bob introduced the Optimist club to many coaches and parents. He sponsored many of these fine people in to our club. The genealogy of Bob’s recruitment is cherished to this day as over half of the current members in our club can trace their tie and introduction to optimism back to a sponsorship initiated by Bob Stark.

Each meeting Optimists recite the Optimist Creed. I could pick many of the lines from the creed and say - “That was Bob Stark”, but perhaps the most fitting testament is the motto of Optimist International which is “Friend of Youth”. The youth of Oakridge sports could not have ever had a better friend than Bob Stark.

So each time you come by this sign remember Bob, a true Optimist. A selfless and dedicated person who reached out in his community and made a world of difference.

From left to right: Gary Shawyer, Rick Gillespie, Jim Easton, Kevin Heslop, Don Lucas, Doug Mackay, Mike Miletich

London Blizzard sledge hockey recognition

On June 22, 2018 seven members represented our club at the 20th anniversary banquet of the London Blizzards Sledge Hockey Club, hosted at the Polish Combatants hall on Ann Street. Our club has been a supporter of sledge hockey since 2002 and has led annual fundraising efforts among Optimist Clubs in and around London. The club was recognized at the banquet as a longtime friend and supporter of the London Blizzards, and presented with an appreciation plaque. Special thanks to Optimist Jim Easton for speaking at the banquet, and bringing greetings and congratulations on behalf of our club.

Joe league plaque of appreciation

London Police presented the Oakridge Optimist Club with a plaque depicting the 2017-2018 Joe League teams at their awards ceremony at Budweiser Gardens on Sunday, February 11th, 2018. Our club donated $3000 to cover the costs of transportation of the kids to and from games each week.

Distinguished Club

Our club was designated as a Distinguished Club for the 2017 to 2018 Optimist year. The award is given to clubs that meet all of the administrative necessities, achieve membership targets and build or assist in the building of a new optimist club. Congratulations to Optimist President Rick Gillespie and his board for this achievement.

Honour Club

Our club was designated as an Honour Club for the 2016 to 2017 Optimist year. The award is given to clubs that meet all of the administrative necessities as well as achieving membership and other targets. Congratulations to Optimist President Bill Adams and his board for this achievement.

2018 London West Community recognition award - bill adams

Congratulations to Optimist Bill on being nominated and awarded with the Community Recognition Award from London West MPP Peggy Sattler on Thursday, January 18, 2018. Optimist Bill has been a member of the Optimist Club of Oakridge Acres since 2011. He has served on the board of directors for five years as Director, Secretary, President and is currently the Past President. He continues to serve on our Trivia Night, Charity Golf Tournament, 60th Anniversary and Youth Volunteer Recognition Program committees. He is a committed volunteer for each and every Optimist event. Outside the club, he is a member of the Racing Against Drugs London committee and is the Neighbourhood Watch coordinator in the area of his home.

2017 London West community recognition award - don lucas

January 19, 2017

Congratulations to Optimist Don Lucas who was honoured last night with a Community Recognition Award from London West MPP Peggy Sattler. Don was recognized for his volunteer efforts on behalf of our club and in particular his many years of dedication to our Oratorical. His hard work has given young people in Oakridge a stage and the confidence to become excellent public speakers.

Women's Community House Awards

June 9th, 2015

Our club was presented with this "Gold" level award in recognition of its contributions and donations over the past year. The award reads, "In recognition of your commitment to help provide safe places and services for abused women and their children."

mayor's featured community organization

June 15th, 2009

The United Way co-ordinates this program, on behalf of the Mayor, through a volunteer selection committee. Recognition consists of a mounted certificate presented by Mayor DeCicco-Best at the beginning of the Council meeting to representatives of the community organization. The program has been in place since 2003 and recognizes the important contributions of non-profit organizations and their volunteer members to the community.

Easter Seals Ontario Spirit of Giving Award

June 16th, 2009

The Spirit of Giving Award is granted annually to corporations or community groups that exhibit long-standing commitment to Easter Seals. This provincial award was shared by the Optimist Club of Oakridge Acres and the Optimist Club of Komoka-Kilworth for a $60,000 commitment to build a Sledge Hockey Rink at Camp Woodeden in London, Ontario.

2022 Rick Gillespie

Rick has been a tireless volunteer with the Optimist Club for over 25 years; lending a hand at the board and with the many club outreach programs in the community. Rick is a key part of the planning and execution of countless community BBQ events, community days, fundraising events, golf tournaments, and Ronald McDonald House meals. Rick was a key organizer of the club’s 50th and 60th year celebrations where Oakridge Park improvement initiatives accompanied celebration events. Although focused on the Optimist Club of London – Oakridge Acres, Rick also led the building of, and is a sitting member of the new Fanshawe club. In addition, Rick is the current Lieutenant Governor for the Optimist district; leading major joint city of London and club initiatives. Rick’s volunteerism goes well beyond the Optimist club, with involvement with CP Open, CN Open, Special Olympics and the Canadian University/College golf championships. A true friend of youth, Rick has made London West a better place.