Sunday, October 07, 2007

St John's Brigade awards

Despite a messy start to the day Sunday had a special highlight. After lunch I attended the annual St John's Ambulance Divisional awards ceremony at City Hall. For once I had no part to play, as I had been unable to commit to the event timetable with certainty, due to my need to get away for a service at 4.00pm at Tredegarville school. I was able just to turn up and sit at the back and enjoy proceedings.

About four hundred Brigade members were present to hear speeches and watch presentation of awards to family, friends and colleagues. It was a moment as the Prior said: "To honour those who serve." Two of the senior volunteers were honoured for each having served 52 years since enrolment as St John's Ambulance men. Scores more were honoured for lesser periods of service from a dozen to four dozen years, often spouses and their children.

Among those awarded were three young people honoured as young life savers of the year. All three had newly been trained in First Aid. One fifteen year old had helped save the life of a mate who had gone into toxic shock from a nut allergy on board a cross channel ferry. Another fifteen year old had helped save a mate from drowning who'd been trapped in a sinking canoe in some river rapids.

Most amazing was a ten year old, who had saved his grandmother from choking to death when a pill lodged in her windpipe, just a few weeks after learning what to do in a school First Aid class. Even more amazing was the fact that the child in question suffers from cerebral palsy. St John's has a number of people in its serving ranks who have some measure of disability, but this counts for nothing. Everyone who needs help gets it, and everyone is equally valued, no matter how much or little they are able to give. All involved are valued for having a go, for being willing to be there among the 'first to care' as the organisation's strapline declares.

It's pure Gospel in action - day after day after day.

I'm very proud that our church has such strong links with St John's. And I think it shows in the esprit de corps of the congregation.

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