Dylan Hamel was busy working and pursuing his passion as a photographer and time-lapse filmmaker in his hometown of Quesnel when a chance visit to the Okanagan prompted him to pursue a new home and a new direction. Recently, Hamel learned he was chosen to receive an award in memory of Okanagan resident Gerry Hastings who had a well-known love for the automotive world, including vintage cars and motorcycles.
Now completing his training in the Automotive Service Technician Foundation program, Hamel is the 2015 recipient of the Gerry Hastings Memorial Award.
“I have always been fascinated with how engines work,” says Hamel. “Rebuilding them, making them better—it’s a great challenge, a fulfilling one.”
Hamel says the creativity required in the shop is no different than the artistry required behind the lens. His timelapse videos have gone on to viral success on YouTube. He was even contacted by the organizers of the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George earlier this year and asked if one of his videos could be shown at the opening ceremonies.
“That was incredible,” he says. “Such a thrill. And I love that I get to put that same creative energy into my automotive career.”
"This award will help me get through this program. I'm living on my own, in a new city, and so having this is really helpful not just for tuition but for food and rent."
Bruce Stevenson, Past-President of the Okanagan British Car Club, presented the award and regaled Hamel and his fellow students with tales of Gerry Hastings, and the classic car racing that to this day continues to fund the award in his honour. Hastings died in 2006 from complications following a tragic motorcycle accident.
A 30+ year veteran of the BC health care community and a former naval officer, Hastings travelled the world following his passion for cars and motorcycles. He was a regular at Telemark Cross Country Ski Club in the winter months.
“Gerry was a very kind, quiet and reserved gentleman,” said Stevenson. “He had a true love for cars and motorcycles and he would be proud to know that this award is helping students like Dylan and Aaron pursue careers in the automotive industry.”
The car club, which boasts about 80 members, hosts car racing in Lot 17 of the Okanagan College Kelowna campus parking lot every Thursday night during the spring and summer months.
“We’re delighted that the money is raised right here and stays right here, going back into the College. Our club is pleased to be able to support the next generation of automotive tradespeople and we’re thrilled that some have even chosen to join the club and share their skills and love for cars with us."
Aaron Schmidt, who received the bursary in 2014, is now working as an automotive service technican at Kal Tire. Schmidt joined the car club after receiving the bursary and has since become one of their top racers.