Victoria Hawkins |

The contribution they make to New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing is priceless, but St John estimates its 9,447 volunteers contribute more than $30 million dollars in value each year to its ambulance service and community health programmes. 

St John is marking National Volunteer Week (19-25 June) with events and celebrations that recognise the talent and dedication of volunteers throughout the country.  This year St John Day (June 24) also falls within Volunteer Week.

Chief Executive Peter Bradley says:  “On behalf of St John, I want to thank our volunteers for their commitment, care, drive and passion.  They make a positive difference in their communities, and we simply could not deliver our emergency services or community health programmes without them.”

National Volunteer Week 2016 is a call to action to ‘make time’ for volunteering and the benefits it brings to communities. It is a theme that resonates strongly with St John volunteers, who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, caring for others.

The snapshot below of 24 hours in the life of St John’s volunteers shows the depth and breadth of their extraordinary contribution.

The 15 volunteers featured range from volunteer ambulance officers responding to 111 calls in the early hours of the morning; to FEDs (Friends of the Emergency Department) providing comfort and support to patients and their families in hospital; to the volunteers providing medical services on the side lines of school sports; to the Area Committee members who support and guide the work St John does in local communities.

St John thanks its volunteers for making time - Kia Ora mō tāu whai wā.

Last year thanks to St John’s 9,447 volunteers:

  • 7,174 community events were provided with medical services
  • 1,189 Area Committee members supported local communities
  • 1,200 people received regular phone calls from one of our Caring Callers
  • 279 therapy pets supported the emotional wellbeing of people in hospitals and rest homes
  • 63,996 trips were made by Health Shuttle volunteers taking people to health related appointments
  • 2,928 Ambulance Volunteers helped towards the 366,375 emergency incidents that were attended by ambulance crews
  • 834 Friends of the Emergency Department and Hospital Friends volunteers helped patient families and loved ones in Emergency Departments and hospital wards across the country
  • 1,091 Youth Leaders made a positive impact on the lives of our 6,555 young penguins and cadets
  • 70 volunteers in governance roles helped shape the future of St John



Rachel Lorimer

St John Head of Communications

T 09 526 0528 I X 8095 I F 09 526 0553 | M 021 436 503 | E rachel.lorimer@stjohn.org.nz


24 hours in the life of St John volunteers

Thank you for making time - Kia Ora mō tāu whai wā. 





Sam England, Operations Volunteer Team Manager for Tuakau, is up early coordinating local operations events for a dedicated group of Tuakau volunteers. “It’s always great fun working with other volunteers, learning new skills and helping others,” Sam says. He has gone on to a paid position in the Clinical Control Centre as a dispatcher and says he has seen many other volunteers move into various paid roles throughout the organisation.


Karen Feast starts her shift as a Levin operational volunteer. She has been volunteering since 2012 and “absolutely loves helping and caring for people”. Karen still remembers her first volunteering experience. “It was the Petone Rotary Fair, we were steady throughout the day with numerous patients ranging from motion sickness on the fairground rides to fainting and the mandatory sticking plasters for blisters,” Karen explains.




Jim Young is busy out the back of the St John Te Awamutu Op Shop sorting through all the newly donated goods. He ensures they’re all ready to be sold. If things need fixing, Jim is the man to talk to. Jim has been a volunteer with St John since 1975, first in operations as a volunteer and today as a member of his local area committee and in the op shop.  Jim enjoys the team he works with and the community he volunteers for. “Everyone enjoys themselves and is here for the right reasons.  We work for the community and the community appreciates that.” 




As a team leader for Friends of the Emergency Department at Middlemore Hospital, Christine Petrie loves talking and listening to the patients. “I come away from every shift knowing I have helped patients and their families in some way and I take pride in that,” Petrie says. There are 834 volunteers helping patient families and loved ones in Emergency Departments and hospital wards across New Zealand.  




Nikoli Foreman is supporting her youth leaders and divisions by coordinating the training schedule in Manukau. She works through the consent forms, making sure everyone is registered. Nikoli has volunteered for five years after beginning as a Penguin Leader (for children 6 to 8 years). “It’s a lot of fun, long hours but very social. Plus it gives you a connection across the different ages of youth. It’s awesome to see young people reach their goals and achieve them.”




As a Caring Caller, Gordon Sutton rings his client from his home in West Auckland. He has been ringing this same client regularly for five years now. The Caring Caller service is free and connects people who need a friend with people who have time to listen and chat. Volunteers go through a training programme and receive ongoing support so they are equipped to help their clients. 




Jackie Thorne is in the Paeroa Opportunity Shop sorting the boxes of donated goods. Yesterday Jackie was on the frontline helping to transport a Paeroa woman in labour to hospital. Jackie was the winner of the St John Volunteer of the Month for May 2016 and after eight years of volunteering she still enjoys helping people. “Volunteering warms your soul. It helps when you have a fantastic team with you. You do it because you can, you do it because you want to,” Jackie says.




Ellen Dittmer became a cadet when she was eight years old. Now 17, she has become the District Cadet of the Year, taking on many voluntary tasks. These have included planning competitions for her district cadets and most importantly being the voice of her district at youth manager meetings. “Volunteering has given me the opportunity to see younger people than me grow and develop into amazing youth. It has also given me a great start for my journey into the medical field.”




Ann Connor and Heather Rolfe take their dogs Scruffy and Mandy to Selwyn Heights Rest Home in Hillsborough, Auckland. Ann says becoming an Outreach Therapy Pets volunteer was the perfect fit for when she retired. “It was a chance to be part of something with my dog, sharing the joy I have for my dog with others,” Ann explains.  St John and SPCA Outreach Therapy Pets volunteers provide animal-assisted therapy, promoting emotional wellbeing in hospitals, schools and rest homes.




Peter Gordon leads the blessing of a new ambulance during a vehicle dedication ceremony. As district chaplain, Peter is busy with award ceremonies, presentations and providing support to his district of Coromandel Peninsula. He enjoys the interaction with all sorts of people throughout the organisation. “Mixing with people is a great thing. As a retired pastor I enjoy it, giving me an excuse to meet a whole sector of people I would never ever usually meet,” Peter says.




Bruce McCardle has been a volunteer since 2002 and is on his way back to St John New Plymouth station after providing medical support at a local event. “At community events there are always children and adults alike who want to know how they can become an ambulance person and they of course want to look through the truck. Wearing the St John uniform is certainly rewarding,” Bruce says.




St John Manurewa Youth Leader Michaela Clark sets off on her training run as she gears up for the ASB Auckland Marathon in late October. She will be fundraising for St John as she continues to train. “I use every opportunity to train at work, hopefully my training will kick into high gear soon,” Michaela says. ASB and St John have been working together since 2008. The partnership helps to expand support for St John services and deliver important programmes in local communities.



Pat Porter begins her role as Secretary Treasurer at the meeting of the Hauraki Plains Area Committee. The former operational volunteer joined St John in 1961 due to her husband and brother-in-law who were already involved.  “It’s the teamwork that I love most about volunteering, we’ve always treated every St John person in the Hauraki Plains as a member of the family,” Pat explains.  



Ambulance volunteer Jeremy Samuels is called out to an incident in Mosgiel. Volunteering has given Jeremy an opportunity to give back to the community he works and lives in. “It keeps my brain active and engaged. From job to job, you never know what you’re going to come across next,” he says.   In a volunteering career spanning 15 years, Jeremy still remembers the look of relief on the faces of the family from the first job he attended. He was also on duty during the Christchurch earthquake, memories that have stayed with him.



Daniel Ohs is woken early to attend an emergency as a Fire Medical First Responder.  Dan is both a paid employee (as St John’s Head of Clinical Practice) and a volunteer.  He has been part of St John for 14 years, and is a member of the Volunteer Support Group, an internal group set up to support and represent St John’s 9,447 volunteers.  Like many St John people, Dan also volunteers more widely in his community.  In his personal time, he is a volunteer for the local Fire Bridge which he has done for the last 16 years in his hometown of Rolleston.




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