Clement stands from his chair, taking the arm of an old colleague to do so. The two served together as firemen for 24 years, today they walk down the runway of a fashion show held in Clement’s honour.
“Thirty years is a long time to dedicate to selflessly helping others, with many risks involved,” said Caroline Casey, activation aide at Fox Ridge Care Community in Brantford, which is where the fashion show was held. “We wanted to find a way to recognize Clement’s commitment to the community of Brantford.”
Clement became a fire fighter as a compromise. Initially, he’d wanted to serve with the police, but his wife told him it was too dangerous.
“She got her way. I became a fireman and never looked back,” Clement said. He particularly enjoyed driving the trucks, but said that “saving and rescuing people made [him] happy.”
The fashion show opened with Bryan, a resident at Fox Ridge, playing the guitar while everyone got seated. Many team members came in especially for the event, filling the room, which was beautifully decorated. Once everyone had settled in, Leonard, another resident, and Sandy Croley, executive director at Fox Ridge, introduced the first models: Tammy Smith, the director of dietary services, and Bill Vaughan, the director of environmental services, who strutted down the fashion runway to thunderous applause.
The fashion models, who were all residents, followed them. Each one had had their hair and makeup done earlier, and wore their finest clothing. Eight firemen came in their dress uniform to the event to walk the models down the runway.
“It's hard to say who smiled more, the residents or the firefighters as they walked down the runway,” said Anne Whittingham, a program aide at Fox Ridge. “We were happy to be able to showcase residents’ beauty, personality and talents.”
Team members at Fox Ridge also arranged a special surprise for one of the models, arranging for her son, who is a fireman, to attend the fashion show to walk her down the runway.
“She was over the moon,” Caroline said. “When he walked down the hallway she had a big smile on her face. She couldn’t believe we went through the effort of having him come in to walk alongside her.”
All of the models received beautiful certificates from Dave Levac, the MPP for Brantford. Caroline said the models were very honoured to receive these certificates.
"It was such a fun opportunity from beginning to end to see our ladies shine," said Auburn Anger, a program aide at Fox Ridge.
At the end of the fashion show, Clement and his past colleague walked up to the front of the runway, where the firemen were seated. Two of the models presented them with a thank-you card and carnations, while a small speech was made thanking all of the firemen for their service to the community.
“I was very proud of [my father],” said Michelle, Clement’s daughter. "We had a really good time, [and] he was so happy to see his fellow firemen."