I joined St John in 1989 at 13, following my brother and various friends into my local Division, after they were all inspired by their primary school teacher and St John Member, who taught them the school’s first aid programme, the Three Cross Award. During my 30 year membership I’ve found it highly interesting and lots of fun; it can be hard work but is very rewarding.
I have many great memories from that time. I remember attending to my first emergency at the Royal Welsh Show, a diabetic with low blood sugar. Back then you recognised it just in signs and symptoms and not by using any form of machine. I gave him a couple of sugar sachets I had been taught to carry in my first aid kit, and looked after him whilst they kicked in; thankfully he made a full recovery.
I remember taking over my Division’s Cadet section and over six years helping six of them become Grand Prior Cadets, the first in the Division’s history. One of my proudest moments was watching them being presented. During those six years I thoroughly enjoyed helping Cadets and young members access the incredible range of experiences and development opportunities across Wales that St John offered. Since then those six have gone to do amazing things including A&E Registrar, a Nurse on air ambulance, Head Teacher and Community Nursing Sister.
On a glorious summer day I remember standing on parade in Llangollen with hundreds of others, then marching into the Pavilion to a rousing tune, to be one of many receiving an award. I was part of this Wales-wide family, being recognised for my volunteering. I didn’t need it as I loved what I was doing as a volunteer, but it was a great boost to my personal morale that I was able to make a difference to ordinary lives.
On a colder and wetter weekend I remember directing a Cadet NCO Course where half the staff couldn’t make it for one reason or another, including my lead trainer and the cook! The amazing team I had pulled together and the Cadets didn’t notice and I proudly watched (mostly from the kitchen!) 24 of them thoroughly enjoy themselves on my favourite youth course.
My best friend and I started a new Division from scratch and saw it flourish into one of the largest ever. So many great people were part of this experience and we gave a deprived community something to be proud of.
I’m delighted my most recent memories include recruiting fellow A&E nurses to the organisation to help with our work at the award winning Help Point, and other events. St. John has helped me with my career in emergency nursing and nursing management, and I’m pleased my career can give back to St. John.
More recently I’ve been honoured to become a County Commissioner. I am humbled everyday by how dedicated so many volunteers are in increasingly challenging times, and feel privileged to lead them. I see my role as giving them the best environment I can, so that they may continue to provide the excellent services our organisation, my organisation, can deliver. I strive to make it better for them and allow them to enjoy volunteering as much as I have.
I thank my brother for believing in me and encouraging me to give St John a second go, my parents for supporting me, my partner for her tolerance of how much I do, and all those wonderful friends and colleagues who have made St John a family. I am delighted to continue being involved with St John Cymru today.