You could say that giving back is ingrained in Bill Spiller’s DNA.
Although Spiller’s grandchildren moved on from Wishart Elementary to Dunsmuir Middle School a couple of years ago, he still helps out at the Colwood school in a variety of ways.
Stuart McLatchie, who teaches Grade 4 and 5 at Wishart and taught Spiller’s grandchildren, said Spiller’s volunteer efforts and those of his wife, Trudy, have not gone unnoticed by the students and staff. One example of Spiller’s commitment to volunteering is that he cooks hotdogs and makes hot chocolate for Wishart classes during the school’s annual trip to Goldstream Provincial Park in the fall for the salmon run, McLatchie said.
“Bill’s a member of the South Vancouver Island Rangers and has opened up the club grounds and barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs for my classes’ annual bike trip along the Galloping Goose Trail as well,” McLatchie noted. “This year he provided bicycles for two of my students. He’s a very unassuming gentleman and a big part of what makes our school community so successful. Everyone at Wishart is so grateful for his support.” Spiller said he plans to continue his efforts at Wishart after McLatchie retires as long as the new teacher is interested.
Supporting the community and the school his grandchildren no longer attend is all part of the pledge attached to being an S.V.I. Ranger that Spiller takes seriously.
“We’re a men’s social club with a long history of giving back, being ready to serve,” he said regarding the group that has been a fixture on the West Shore since 1953. The club has a large bucolic piece of property in the Happy Valley and Luxton area of Langford that includes trap and skeet shooting facilities, and a covered area for cooking and dining. The Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, Help Fill a Dream, The Goldstream Food Bank and Christmas hamper funds, and Triangle Baseball receive contributions from the S.V.I. Rangers annually. Memorials held on the grounds contribute to heart and cancer research. Proceeds from an annual fishing derby are donated to the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society, and the club provides a bursary every year for a Belmont Secondary student pursuing a career in the trades.
“We filled two and a half pickup loads with $3,700 worth of toys for the Christmas hamper program alone last year,” Spiller added. “We make our property available to Cubs and Scouts for free as well.”
The facility is also a designated meeting area in the event of a disaster. “It could serve as a helicopter landing and takeoff area if necessary in the event of a forest fire,” he explained.
“I grew up here at the corner of Latoria and Happy Valley and played on the Rangers grounds a lot when I was a kid. We used to have Cubs and Scouts father and son banquets here,” Spiller added. The club, which also puts a strong focus on maintaining its reputation as a good neighbour, held its annual meet and greet and picnic in May. “More than 300 people showed up for games and activities for families, hot dogs, burgers, corn on the cob and ice cream. It was a great time.”