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Johnette Bell, Camille and Peter Ruddick -- Volunteers of the Year

Three different people were named "Volunteers of The Year" during the 37th Annual Banquet of the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce held Tuesday night at Belle Meade Country Club.

The recipients were Johnette Bell along with Camille and Peter Ruddick - all of Thomson.

"I was flabbergasted for lack of a better word," said Mrs. Bell. "This award really means a lot to me, but I couldn't do what I do if it wasn't for so many other people who work as volunteers to help me."

Mrs. Bell, owner of the Brier Patch, was bestowed the honor for her years of work in decorating downtown Thomson at Christmas, as well as her efforts in organizing the annual Festival off Main. The latter event draws thousands of people to the Camellia City of the South.

"Christmas has always been a special time in my life," said Mrs. Bell, noting that her late mother, Dot Wiggins, of Sandersville, instilled that into her as a young girl growing up. "Through the years, I've tried to make that time of the year in Thomson a very special time of the year for everyone that lives here or passes through our town."

Peter Ruddick, meanwhile, who serves as public works director for the City of Thomson, spoke on behalf of himself and his wife, Camille, who wasn't able to attend the banquet.

"This is really a shared award," said Mr. Ruddick. "I had no idea we were getting honored for what we do as volunteers. We love doing it. It's fun; even though there's a lot of work involved."

Web posted on Thursday, January 29, 2009

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