Governor General recognizes Stittsville’s Larry Matschke for his volunteerism

(Larry Matschke of Stittsville received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from Governor General Mary Simon at Rideau Hall on December 13, 2021. Photo credit: Sgt Mathieu St-Amour, Rideau Hall, OSGG-BSGG)

On December 13, 2021, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, presented honours to 22 exceptional individuals – one of those honourees being Larry Matschke. The ceremony was attended by a small gathering of family and friends who joined in celebrating the recipients and their accomplishments. Passion, dedication and a commitment to community are the driving forces behind the volunteers who receive the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers and Larry Matschke of Stittsville has been an exceptional volunteer throughout the years.

For more than 15 years, Larry made Christmas a little brighter as Barrhaven’s own Santa Claus. His specialized home visits with sick children helped families enjoy and celebrate the holidays, and his fundraising efforts have supported a variety of causes, including the local food bank and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He makes Stittsville his home.

When the Governor General’s office reached out to Stittsville Central to share the news that Larry was to be recognized for his volunteerism by the Governor General, we were honoured. The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers recognizes Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields as they embody the caring country we aspire to build. A true honour for those receiving the awards.

Upon receiving his award Larry humbly told us, “I was caught totally by surprise with this award and it makes me very proud to have received it.” It is an honour to have Larry in our community. He has given so much of himself to others.

Knowing that Larry portrayed Santa for 24 years, we wanted to know what spurred him to begin. It all started Larry tells us, “I saw an inexpensive Santa suit and a shop in Manotick. I thought what a novel idea to do – show up at work with a Santa suit during Christmas week. I was subsequently invited to appear as Santa at a Lions Club children’s party and did so for a few years. Out of those appearances I was invited to appear for a couple different organizations. This eventually grew into many appearances by word of mouth. I decided that this would be a good opportunity to raise money for charity.”

(Larry portrayed Santa for 24 years visiting many organizations and private homes bringing the spirit of Christmas everywhere he travelled. Photo: provided by Larry)

Over the years, Larry has appeared at family gatherings and at those of friends, as well as home daycare settings, always dressed as Santa with donations being graciously accepted. He had been invited to visit a couple of homes where people were ill. “I really enjoyed my visits and it made my month of December,” Larry said. He made between 40 to 44 visits each December and at the end of the month would select three different youth charities to split his donations among them. He has raised $12,000 in donations over the years. Unfortunately, due to some health issues, Larry is no longer able to perform his specialty – playing Santa.

Larry was also a member of the Capital City Men’s Chorus for six years, “out of my love for singing,” he told us. But due to a chronic cough has also had to let this past-time go.

Larry has been a generous donor to many youth charities across Ottawa for years – Children at Risk; Big Brothers and Sisters; The Ottawa Boys & Girls Club; the Make-a-Wish Foundation; and a few other organizations for children with developmental disabilities.

When health concerns arose, Larry moved to Stittsville two years ago. He said, “Prior to moving to Stittsville I lived in a two-story home and out of necessity I needed to find a bungalow. I hit the jackpot when I found a home in Stittsville among a mostly adult community. I have never been happier.” He added, “Being a senior in my 70s I now live a quiet life with my wife.”

The Medal for Volunteers consists of a silver circular medal that is 36 mm in diameter with a suspension ring. The obverse depicts a contemporary effigy of the Sovereign, circumscribed with the inscription in capital letters of the Canadian Royal Title and the word “CANADA”, separated by two maple leaves.

The reverse indicates the ideas of caring and generosity, represented by two interlaced hearts. The sunburst pattern of the rim symbolizes the time that volunteers are giving and their actions. The ribbon uses the viceregal colours of blue and gold. The five gold stripes evoke the fingers of a hand, present in the Caring Canadian Award emblem, while the deep red colour is associated with royalty.

The design of medal was created by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, based on a concept by Darcy DeMarsico of the Chancellery of Honours. The medal is manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint at its Ottawa facility.

Photo credit: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall, OSGG.

The Canadian Honours System recognizes extraordinary people and their remarkable contributions to Canada. Larry Matschke represents the definition of volunteerism and this recognition from the Governor General is so well-deserved for a gentleman who has always thought of others. Congratulations Larry!


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