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Newmarket school head among 14 Portraits of Giving honourees

13th annual Portraits of Giving exhibit launched at Pickering College today, June 21, in recognition of residents and workers who contribute to the community

Longtime head of school at Newmarket's Pickering College is one of the honourees in the 2022 Portraits of Giving awards that recognize contributions to the community. 

Peter Sturrup was the recipient for the town of Newmarket in the 13th annual initiative founded by York Region photographer Karen Merk. The annual exhibition highlights individuals in each municipality across the region, as well as representatives of different sectors who are giving back to their community. 

"It was humbling. I think there are some amazing honourees this year, as there are every year, doing some amazing things in our various communities. And so I really felt honoured to be a part of it," Sturrup told NewmarketToday. 

He has been in Newmarket and at Pickering College for more than 30 years. During that time he has given a lot back to the community, in particular the Relay for Life fundraiser for the Cancer Society.

“He’s just an outstanding person in the community in Newmarket who has given back for many years. He is known as a leader in the community,” Merk said. 

Sturrup fit the criteria for recipients this year, which Merk said included showing strength and resilience as we come out of the pandemic. She highlighted one line from his biography that will accompany his portrait that stood out to her. 

“He said, to him, leadership is not about personality, it’s about character. It’s not about skills, but actions. Distinct, fleeting actions that collectively define our lives and thus become our legacy. It’s not about rules, it’s about relationships like extending a hand or heart at the right moment to someone in your presence.

"That’s just so profound and impactful,” she said. 

It was especially important, Merk said, to recognize Sturrup this year as it will be his last at Pickering College. However, she said, "I’m sure he’ll keep doing many wonderful things as he has a new path." 

The headmaster confirmed he is retiring this June after 27 years in his role. 

It was at the school on June 21 that the Portraits of Giving exhibit for 2022 was launched, which Sturrup said was extra special to show attendees the school and to have some of his staff attend the event. 

This is the 13th year of Portraits of Giving and the first since the pandemic that there has been an opening reception in person. 

The project started when Merk was working as a photographer covering events and meeting a number of people who she said were doing amazing work in their communities. 

“They inspired me to start giving back back then and I thought 'Well, if they’re inspiring me, how can I inspire others?' The idea to do the Portraits of Giving initiative just kind of grew,” she said. 

Now every year she and a volunteer committee choose a number of recipients to highlight in hopes that their stories will have a ripple effect of giving. 

“The goal has always been to inspire our community to start or keep giving back,” she said. 

Here are the 2022 Portraits of Giving honourees: 

  • Lifetime achievement: Linda Dennis 
  • Paramedic: Helen Galanis
  • York Regional Police: Sgt. Mina Rahravan and Susan Gibbs
  • Sports: Mitch Marner 
  • Young Adult: Saraj Bansal 
  • East Gwillimbury : Marjorie Niemi 
  • Georgina: Beth Cowper-Fung 
  • Newmarket: Peter Sturrup 
  • Aurora: Marco Iacovetta 
  • Richmond Hill: Pamela and Harry Harakh 
  • Stouffville: Dean and Karen Woods 
  • King: Susan Heslop-Porter 
  • Markham: Shanta Sundarason 
  • Vaughan: Julia Suppa