One that gives so much to so many should be on the receiving end every once in a while.
That thought is never truer than when it comes to Basil Ludlow of Antigonish, who was inducted into the St. F.X. Hall of Honour earlier this month.
“It was a tremendous surprise – I don’t think this is something that anyone expects,” he said, calling the recognition “beautiful.”
Established by the Class of 1991, as its traditional legacy gift to their alma mater, the St. F.X. Hall of Honour recognizes “deserving alumni who have exemplified the Xaverian commitment throughout their lives.”
“It is just about helping out where you can,” the retired educator said of his volunteer work.
Since its inception, the Hall has welcomed more than 80 alumni members, including many familiar to Ludlow.
“I couldn’t believe it – it really started to sink in,” he said, reflecting on when he saw the names of other honorees during the Oct. 5 induction ceremony.
Ludlow marvelled at the company he was becoming part of, which includes the likes of Reverend Dr. Moses Coady, Father Jimmy Tompkins and Pat Nicholson, whose name adorns Nicholson Hall on campus.
“She was my best friend,” he said of Joan Dillon, another Hall member.
Ludlow reflected fondly on his first meeting with the late founder of X-Project, a student society at St. F.X. that has offered educational assistance, recreational and leadership programs for African Canadian and Mi’kmaw youth in five communities in the region since 1965.
“It was outside the [St. F.X.] Chapel and she asked me what I was doing the next day,” he said of the 1968 encounter.
On that ‘next day,’ the then 19-year-old and other volunteers headed to Lincolnville, one of the communities served by X-Project, which began his now more than half-century association with the initiative.
“It has been a privilege and taught me so much about life,” Ludlow said.
As noted in his Hall of Honour citation, while a St. F.X. student and beyond, he has “worked tirelessly over the years to support its endeavours, from working in communities, to playing his guitar to bring people together, to driving the blue X-Project bus for many years.”
“I have friends – lifelong friends – in each of them,” he said of the communities served by X-Project.
Growing up in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Ludlow learned about the importance of “giving back” at an early age.
His father was not only a coal miner, but also a draegerman – helping rescue comrades from the depths of the pit during disasters.
That focus on service only grew, deepening during his time as a St. F.X. student and over his stellar career as a teacher at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School in Antigonish.
“We had students canvassing for the CNIB, for many years,” Ludlow said, recalling one of the ways in which he helped his school community give back.
In the late 1970s, he and his wife, Dorothy, co-chaired the community campaign that led to construction of the St. Andrews District Fire Department, where he also served as a volunteer firefighter.
The couple also spent many years – Ludlow noted he played back-up on the guitar – as ministers of music for St. Andrew’s Parish.
They also shared their musical gifts at myriad community events, including fundraisers for various projects and organizations.
“We had a lot of fun,” Ludlow said.
He credited Dorothy, along with his children – Maria, Therese, Anna and Peter – for providing unending support for his community work.
“There were times I would be doing stuff with X-Project three or four days a week,” Ludlow said.
Describing her as “an unsung hero,” he said Dorothy is equally deserving of the Hall honour, noting her extensive work in women’s ministries and other initiatives.
He also takes pride in his children’s commitment to “constant service.”
Just like his time with X-Project, Ludlow said he has been extremely fortunate to have formed deep relationships during his volunteer work, including with members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Martha.
“It helped me out quite a bit,” he noted of seeing – first-hand – their dedication to lives of service.
There are also the former classmates, friends and fellow volunteers who have touched his life, including those who nominated him for the St. F.X. Hall of Honour and wrote testimonials, including Marian Beaton Gillis, Sheila Redden, John Sumarah, Jean Nichol, Billy Kiely and Kenneth Stewart.
“I can’t thank them enough,” Ludlow said.
With his continuing work for others and in the community, including as a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus and with Pro-Life causes – not to mention canvassing for a variety of charities, his list of relationships will only expand.
“Basil Ludlow models on a daily basis the ideals and values of St. F.X. He is a champion for those in need and has always desired to help others,” his Hall of Honour citation reads.
“Basil has always found the time to quietly go about helping wherever he is needed. He has inspired many others to ensure the St. F.X. tradition of helping others continues.”
Ludlow said he is “humbled” by receiving such praise.
“I am very blessed and I thank God for that.”