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Burnaby senior who survived COVID-19 gets wild surprise for 99th birthday

Helen Brown was named a citizen of the year in 1992
helen birthday brown rcmp
Helen Brown receives flowers on her 99th birthday.

A Burnaby resident known for a lifetime of community work got an amazing surprise birthday present on Sunday.

Helen Brown celebrated turning 99 with the help of some Burnaby firefighters and RCMP in Red Serge at St. Michaels Centre long-term care home.

Brown and her husband Don (a former Burnaby councillor who has since passed) were the first couple to be named at Burnaby Citizens of the Year, in 1992.

Brown’s birthday was also special after getting COVID-19 and then recovering. She recently received both doses of the vaccine and is thriving, said daughter Patricia Tochkin, one of six children in the family.

“Mom is doing surprisingly well and is amazing everyone with her positive attitude and said yesterday to me on FaceTime, ‘I cannot believe that I am almost 99 and have no aches or pains and feel so darn good,” Tochkin said days before her mom’s birthday event and has a community policing office named after him. He was on school board, a councillor, and chair of Burnaby’s 100th Centennial and Freeman of Burnaby.

“My mother was at his side helping him out the entire time,” Tochkin said. “Together they were members of the Metro Club, Historical Society, Lawn Bowling Club, Card Club, Burnaby Heritage Museum, Pacific Open Heart Association, and both sat on many committees and devoted countless hours to the community.”

Don sadly passed away just months shy of the couple’s 70th wedding anniversary.

Police and firefighters all made Brown smile when they surprised her at the front door of the care centre with flowers and a bagpiper.