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A gift 50 years in the making: donor honours father’s legacy
Okanagan College Media Release

Cookson donation Dec 2015One of the valley’s longest-running family-owned commercial trucking businesses has come forward with a big gift for trades students at Okanagan College, in honour of its founder who helped pave the way for the industry in Kelowna.

Cookson Motors Ltd., owned by Hugo Cookson Jr., has donated $50,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex under construction at the Kelowna campus.

The donation is being made in honour of Cookson’s father Hugo Cookson Sr., who founded Cookson Motors in Kelowna more than 50 years ago in 1965.

“My dad did his apprenticeship in Kelowna, and had a strong belief in the apprenticeship process,” says Cookson.

The commercial truck sales, leasing, and servicing company has grown from three employees in 1965 to a staff of more than 70 today; a second dealership was purchased in Penticton in 2001.

“As our company has grown there has always been a need for skilled apprentices,” says Cookson. “My dad recognized the importance of investing in the next generation and so this gift is meant to carry on that legacy.”

Cookson Sr. passed away in September at the age of 87. A plaque in his memory will be placed outside of the classroom bearing his name in the College’s newly renovated Heavy Duty Mechanical Trades shop.

“On behalf of Okanagan College I want to express our appreciation to Cookson Motors, and to all the donors helping us build for the future,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“It is particularly inspiring for our trades students to see this kind of support locally from organizations, families, and individuals who have played a role in growing the trades sector in our surrounding communities,” says Hamilton.

Upgrades to the heavy duty shop were completed in summer 2013 as the first phase in the College’s current $33-million renovation and expansion project in Kelowna.

Added to the shop were three new classrooms (including the classroom named in Cookson Sr.’s honour) and a 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space, which is covered by a canopy housing one of the province’s largest arrays of photovoltaic solar panels.

Cookson Jr., an alumnus of the College’s Business Administration program, has been a supporter of the project since early in the renovation. In addition to sitting on the Program Advisory Committee for the Heavy Duty program previously, he joined the Bright Horizons campaign team last year as a volunteer Sector Chair.

“It’s a very worthwhile cause and I hope this gift inspires other people in the community and in the industry to come forward and support students as our company has,” he says.

When doors open next spring, the new Trades complex will accommodate more than 2,600 students, almost doubling capacity for trades training at the Kelowna campus. Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in B.C.

The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project. The Okanagan College Foundation is aiming to raise another $7 million for capital construction and program and student support.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit