OLDS — A woman who grew up in Olds and is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces got the thrill of a lifetime when she spoke to Queen Elizabeth II virtually.
Maj. Angela Orme has been working with the Canadian Navy in Bahrain.
A post on the web generated for the Royal Family also notes that the Canadian Armed Forces has provided medical assistance in the clinics and long-term care facilities as well as delivering vaccinations to remote areas.
Orme’s efforts impressed Queen Elizabeth II. She was perhaps even more impressed when Orme described how she explained her job to her very young children.
The Queen asked Orme how long she had been in Bahrain and was told at that time that it had been almost seven months.
Orme said that’s been rather difficult because she has two very young children ages 3 and 2.
"You must miss them very much,” the Queen said.
"I do miss them," Orme replied. “I do miss them very, very much, but I hope that one day, when they understand why mom was gone, that they’ll be proud of me."
“And they actually do think I’m pretty cool right now because I didn’t know how to explain it to my three-year-old son what mom was doing, so I just told him that I was away fighting pirates and he thought that was pretty neat,” she added with a short laugh.
"That’s a very good answer because that’s ... true, isn’t it? Oh, that’s very interesting to hear it,” the Queen replied.
Orme joined Olds town council via Zoom on June 28.
“Olds is incredibly proud of you. And what a great moment. That’s going to be a story to tell your grandchildren for years,” mayor Michael Muzycka said during her appearance.
“It’s been a bit mind blowing, because I kind of feel like I’ve lived Groundhog Day in the Middle East for the last six months and then all of a sudden I got an audience with the Queen and this came two weeks before I’m coming home,” she said.
“So you know, the onset of me coming home and then me ending it in such a spectacular way was really great.
“Everything feels a little surreal right now. It always does when you’re coming home from an overseas deployment, but especially when you speak with the Queen shortly before.”
Orme said she’s being posted to Edmonton.
She noted she and her husband Shawn Orme, formerly of Calgary, intend to live near Olds, having bought a farm in the area.
Orme said Shawn is “one of the highest decorated snipers in Canadian history.” He spent six years as a sniper in the Canadian special operations regiment, which she said is “the most elite regiment in Canada.”
She said he hopes to eventually land a job in Olds or Sundre.
Muzychka noted Orme has addressed Remembrance Day services in the past. Councillors wondered if she would like to promote the armed forces to local youth as a possible career option.
Orme said she would indeed like to do that. She said she and Shawn want to become involved in the community an any way they can.
Another passion is to promote the fact that Olds has a proud military history.
Orme said she grew up near Vic Morrison who was in a tank at Dieppe.
“We’ve lost a lot of our veterans, but Olds has a strong military past. Olds doesn’t necessarily have a good representation of that past in the present day,” Orme said.
“And what I’m really hoping to do is just draw your attention to the fact that there is a military presence in our community that can hopefully inspire, excite, the youth of the town.”
Orme said many youth likely don’t know that as a reservist, for example, the Canadian Armed Forces will pay part of your education.
She took advantage of that by studying at the University of Calgary while still serving in the reserves. She later joined the Armed Forces full-time.
“For me, it was the challenge. It was seeing the world. But it all kind of brings you back to your roots. So you know, it has that draw – see the world. You know, travel to crappy foreign countries,” Orme said.
“And then full circle, it makes you really proud of where you come from, because you do go to these countries and you’re serving your country.
"I joined when I was in my mid 20s and maybe a little bit of discipline was probably beneficial for me. You know, the physical challenge the mental challenge. And then really ultimately realizing that you’re representing one of the most amazing countries on earth.”
Coun. Mitch Thomson said, "I don’t know if you could sound any cooler than telling your kids that you fight pirates and that you’re backed up by one of the most decorated snipers around.
“I would just say ‘welcome to Olds Mrs. Orme and thank you for serving.”