A Parksville resident was one of 125 people worldwide to be honoured this year for his contributions to the work of the Royal Life Saving Society — and he got to meet the Queen.
Tony Toriglia, who was the Ravensong Pool’s first manager from 1995-2007, attended the event in November in England at the Royal Over-Seas League, where he was presented with a certificate of merit by the society’s patron, Prince Michael of Kent, Queen Elizabeth’s cousin. The Royal Life Saving Society is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2016.
“To be recognized with many of my peers — it was a real honour,” said Toriglia, who was joined by wife Tammie at the ceremony.
Toriglia, 55 and now retired, started with the society when he became an instructor at the age of 16. He said the society’s goals are to provide people with “judgement, fitness, skill and knowledge” related to safety.
“Drowning is an accidental, preventable injury,” he said.
Toriglia served as president of the B.C. and Yukon branch of the society from 1996 to 1998 and filled many committee and vice-president roles. He is currently assisting in the promotion and delivery of the Water Rescue for First Responders Program designed to train police and fire personnel in water rescue techniques.
On a national level, Toriglia was a major contributor to the ice safety project and he continues to promote and model the society’s principles of safety around the water as well as serving as a volunteer leader on the Arrowsmith Search and Rescue team. In 2003 he was a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. His long term commitment to the society’s work was also recognized with the prestigious status of Commonwealth Honourary Life Member in 2008, according to a news release from the society.
Recipients of the certificate of merit in 2016 came from countries including the U.K., Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and St Lucia.
Members also attended a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Michael of Kent to mark the anniversary. The event was also attended by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Princess Michael of Kent and TRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. A volunteer organization, the Royal Life Saving Society is dedicated to the prevention of drowning and was established in England in 1891.