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Health of Fergus community was top of mind for Richard Taylor

He was an avid supporter of Groves Memorial Community Hospital and on the Groves Hospital Volunteer Association board

His passion and concern for the well-being of Fergus residents will be missed. 

Richard Taylor was a businessman and philanthropist who is remembered for his generosity within the community and compassion for others. On April 6, he passed away at the age of 67. His mother, Edith Taylor, passed away hours after her son, but did not know he had died. 

"His passion shone through all the time," said Ann Ironside, who volunteered with Richard in the Groves Hospital Volunteer Association. "He will be missed by the community."

Richard Taylor was born in Croydon, England. Before coming to Canada, he spent part of his youth travelling Europe, southeast Asia, south-central Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands. In Canada, Richard settled in Fergus and opened Richlyn Nursery and Garden Centre.

Described as someone with a big heart, Richard used his business as a location for many antique auctions where all proceeds went to Groves Memorial Community Hospital and Theatre on the Grand. For his efforts, Richard was named the Centre Wellington Citizen of the Year in 2001. 

“He was a very caring individual, a very caring individual. Apart from all his endeavours and all the things he was involved in, he cared, he really cared about people and always made time to chat with people," said Ann.

The award wasn’t the end of Richard’s charitable efforts for the community hospital. In 2010, He joined the hospital board and then the Groves Hospital volunteer association board in 2014. During his time on the volunteer association board, Richard was involved in a three-person committee which helped look for a new location for the New to You Thrift Store, a second-hand store which raises proceeds for the hospital. 

Andrew North was part of that board with Richard. He said Richard was a "natural choice" for their work in finding a new location for the store. 

“He was quite enthusiastic and assertive about getting lots done," Andrew also said about Richard. "He also had so many connections in the business community and he seemed to know everybody, and I think it's fair to say that without his involvement in that community, we would not have succeeded the way we did."

With New to You, Richard became an integral part of reconstruction and development once they found a new location for the organization. Ann notes he used the connections he had within the business community to help with the store.

“Richard, who knew an enormous amount of people in the community, got us help from all over the place. If it wasn’t free, it was cheap,” said Ann.

After he had served his time on the board, Ann mentions Richard would visit the store to speak with volunteers. In the last two years when Ann saw him, she adds he would ask her about New to You when they would bump into each other. 

“One of the biggest things I admired about him is whatever he got involved in, he was always passionate about it, and he put his whole effort into whatever it was,” said Ann. "In his mind, he had never lost his enthusiasm for the store."

"It was obvious from his actions that the general health and welfare of the community was at the forefront for him, but most of it seems to have been involved with the hospital in particular," adds Andrew, "so he was always on the lookout for other people's health, even indirectly."

Today, New to You can hold over 120 volunteers who help sift through items to collect donations for the hospital. Ann said the move Richard helped with also allowed the store to increase its profits, leading to more donations for the hospital.

“We wouldn’t have been able to give them as much money, it’s just an enormous difference,” she said. 

A month after Richard's death, the volunteer board paid off its last mortgage payment for the New to You building, now officially owning it. Andrew said he and Richard had negotiated 10 years ago for that mortgage. 

"The agreement that we negotiated and built from scratch has come to full fruition as we hoped it would," said Andrew, adding Richard's passing is a loss to the community and organizations within it. “It was very much too bad, because I was looking forward to having a celebratory dinner with him." 

"He was a good man and a good man to have a beer with."