St John Ambulance in Hertfordshire
PUBLISHED: 13:31 12 October 2010 | UPDATED: 14:53 20 February 2013
Across Hertfordshire, more than 600 men, women and children are part of the leading first aid organisation that is St John Ambulance. Here, Dr Chris Lund, who lives in Welwyn Garden City, tells why he is a devoted member of the charity
I JOINED St John Ambulance the day after my eighth birthday and remain as passionate and enthusiastic about the organisation as I was back then.
In my opinion it is an exceptional charity which achieves a great deal for people around the UK and is driven by very dedicated volunteers. We are particularly lucky here in Hertfordshire to have so many volunteers who will give up their weekends or evenings - come rain or shine - to make sure they are providing the vital first aid presence at concerts, sports events, community fetes and all manner of activities.
St John Ambulance has something of a family tie for me, given that my father set up a cadet division and was largely the reason I first became part of the youth element. I went on to run a junior section when I was 17, before leaving for medical school. Without doubt, it was being involved in St John Ambulance that persuaded me I wanted to pursue a medical career.
It's a misconception that St John Ambulance is all about teaching and carrying out first aid, particularly with the variety of activities available to the young people, but it certainly does have a record for people heading into medical professions or coming to us via those careers. In fact, we have a large number of nurses, doctors and paramedics in Hertfordshire who have their day-jobs and then give their time to us on their weekends off as volunteers. I'm proud of that generosity of spirit and it's what keeps us thriving.
After medical school I returned to St John Ambulance as a volunteer in London, and then joined Hertfordshire again when I became a GP in Welwyn Garden City. I have enjoyed being involved in so many events as an on-duty member - from pop concerts to Wimbledon. My personal belief is that a lot of people who see us at these events have absolutely no idea how the organisation works and the types of individuals we are. It is seen as a very old institution and a large percentage of the population probably wrongly assumes we are part of the NHS or funded by the government.
Actually, we rely on donations and the goodwill of our volunteers. We run things like community first aid courses for businesses and the community as a means of funding the work we do. My hope is that the perception will start to change now that the corporate identity has been revised this year to create a modernised look for St John Ambulance on a national level.
People need to constantly be reminded that we are actually a very forward-thinking organisation which is as relevant in today's modern world as it has ever been. Our members attend football matches, pop concerts, fetes, schools, businesses and all kinds of community events. I have personally had a great time being involved in St John as a volunteer in Hertfordshire and London and also in the medical department at National Headquarters for a number of years.
I am now County Commander of St John Ambulance Hertfordshire and serve as a Trustee of the Order of St John. I enjoy watching our county's operations evolve all the time - with a new training centre on the horizon for Potters Bar as well as other smaller scale projects in various divisions.
My great wish for St John Ambulance is simply that it continues to do what it does so well. It provides superb first aid support and training, encourages the growth of young people and allows so many to form friendships and new skills.
I would urge anyone to get involved in the charity because they could hardly find a more rewarding way to spend their time.
Article taken from October issue of Hertfordshire Life