The late Albert Sheppard, affectionately known as Shepp, was recognized as a man who gave back to his community.
In 1967, he was one of the first officers in St. Anthony and was responsible for starting the “bugle and drum band.” When the cadet squadron was ready to expand its band in the 1980s, it was Sheppard they asked to lead the brass section.
He was also a leader in the Salvation Army church and its band, and, as a member of the militia himself, was an ideal authority figure for the cadet program. He was already highly appreciated for his relationship with youth in the community through efforts such as his dedication to hockey and refereeing. He was inducted into the St. Anthony Recreation Hall of Fame in 2011.
This year, the air cadet squadron remembered and celebrated the effort Sheppard gave to them and their band by naming the most improved band member award after him.
“I think we should honour everybody who came before,” said Lt. Louise Reid, current band officer. “I want the kids to understand that before now, there was a whole network of folks that worked really hard to get the squadron to the 50th anniversary point.”
The squadron is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Alongside the late Dr. James Messer, who worked with the woodwinds, Sheppard worked hard to establish and strengthen the air cadet band. Under his guidance, some of the members went on to play for the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.
“He was a valuable resource to the kids, to give them a good musical foundation,” Reid said. “That is a pretty big honour for kids from northern Newfoundland. He was great with the kids.”
Sheppard died in 2012 at the age of 85, leaving behind his wife Ruby, five daughters, and their extended families.
It was a mixture of emotions for family members upon hearing about the homage being bestowed upon a man they are extremely proud of.
“I think it is wonderful he is being remembered for this,” said his youngest daughter, Brenda McGrath, who now lives in Ontario. “It was something he was passionate about and, although he did not express it, I think that he was proud of his accomplishments with cadets.”
She said there was not a lot to do for youth in the rural town, so she believes her father took pleasure in helping them find something productive.
His daughter, Becky Biles, said she was happy to learn the cadets were recognizing her father in such a way.
“It was so nice to see that they remembered dad for all the years he spent with the cadets, especially when it comes to the band,” she said. “He loved music and enjoyed teaching people how to play different instruments.”
Sheppard’s daughters Cathy, Becky and Brenda were all members of the 774 St. Anthony and Area Air Cadet Squadron.
The first ever Mr. Albert Sheppard Memorial Award for most improved band member went to Shannon Carroll. It was presented at their 50th annual ceremonial review held May 31.