Sally Webster |

As emergency ambulance staff continue to face unprecedented demand, St John is asking New Zealanders to have a “heart of gold” and support its annual appeal this April.

St John’s Heart of Gold Annual Appeal is the most significant fundraiser of the calendar year, but this year the call for the public to support St John with a donation is as important as ever.

Last year, 111 call volumes increased almost 10 percent nationwide to more than 600,000 and St John ambulance officers attended over 400,000 emergencies – about five percent more than the previous year. This pressure comes on top of ongoing year on year increases in demand for emergency ambulance services which have experienced unprecedented demand in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, St John predicts 2022 to be an even busier year.

“Our Heart of Gold Annual Appeal is about showing kindness and helping in a time of need. As demand on our services has increased, our ambulance staff have continued to step forward and be there for communities throughout Aotearoa. In return, we have seen incredible acts of support from the public – and their ongoing support right now is as important as ever,” says St John Chief Executive, Peter Bradley.

Due to the ongoing risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the second time in recent years St John has had to make the decision to cancel nationwide street collections and other face-to-face fundraising activities such as bake sales and sausage sizzles in order to keep New Zealanders safe. Unfortunately, this significantly hampers the ability for St John to connect with the community at a local level and thank donors and supporters in person.

With ever increasing pressure on ambulance services, through this year’s Heart of Gold Annual Appeal St John aims to raise two million dollars to go towards much needed support for ambulances and lifesaving equipment.

“We appreciate the continued funding and support we receive from the Government for our ambulance service, as well as the generosity of the public that helps to ensure we maintain the best level of critical care to our patients. We are extremely grateful to every individual and group that offers their support,” says Mr Bradley.

The importance of funding ambulances and lifesaving equipment became immediately apparent to one Blenheim family recently. 

Eleven-year-old Aiden McKendrick was playing in a friend’s swimming pool with his 14-year-old brother, Liam, when he noticed his sibling’s face go blank and become unresponsive.

Very quickly, Liam sank to the bottom of the pool and Aiden recalls there was no time to be scared – he had to save his brother’s life.

“I swam down and pulled up his arms and brought him to the surface. It was kind of scary at that moment because I was smaller than him and because the pool was slippery – I couldn't touch the bottom of the pool,” says Aiden.

Once adults had pulled Liam out of the pool, Aiden was able to put him in recovery position, something he had learned through the ASB St John in Schools programme.

“We had St John come to our school to teach us what to do in an emergency a few days before, so I knew what to do,” recalls Aiden.

St John ambulance officers arrived, treated Liam and took him to hospital where his family was told he’d had a tonic-clonic seizure. Aiden’s bravery and quick thinking led to the ambulance crew nominating him for an ASB Super Saver Bravery Award, which was presented to Aiden at the St John Blenheim ambulance station.

“Saving lives is a team effort,” says Mr Bradley.

“We saw this in Aiden’s actions – how he applied what he had learned in the first aid training he received from St John’s community education team at school, coupled with the swift and expert response from our caring paramedics.”

“We have also seen this in the tremendous support and generosity the public have shown us over the years and we look forward to seeing their hearts of gold again this year,” says Mr Bradley.

Donations to St John’s Heart of Gold Annual Appeal can be made online by searching St John Appeal, directly at, by texting APPEAL to 2790 or by calling 0800 ST JOHN (0800 785 646)


 About St John:

  • St John provides emergency ambulance services to 90% of New Zealanders and covers 97% of the country’s geographical area.  
  • St John received close to 600,000 emergency calls into its 111 ambulance communications centres and treated and/or transported almost half a million patients in the last financial year (1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021). 
  • St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff.
  • St John has contracts with Ministry of Health and ACC who fund approximately 80% of the operating costs for the ambulance service. The balance is made up from ambulance part charges, third-party contracts and fundraising.
  • Along with the emergency ambulance service, St John operates a significant number of community health programmes, social enterprises and other activities which help build community resilience.

 About St John’s Heart of Gold Annual Appeal partners:

The 2022 Heart of Gold Annual Appeal is supported by St John’s valuable business partners and sponsors. Their support this year includes:

  • ASB running an internal fundraising quiz and a digital campaign calling for donations.
  • Z Energy running a social media fundraising campaign.
  • Pizza Hut donating $2 from every Limo Pizza throughout April.
  • Noel Leeming and Torpedo 7 running staff, friends and family sales to support donations.
  • Vivo salons selling St John Heart of Gold pins across 80 salons nationwide.
  • Eat My Lunch supporting donations through their partner networks.
  • Spark running an internal campaign to 5000 staff throughout April.
  • Trade Me encouraging users to donate success fees throughout April and May.


Sally Webster

St John Integrated Communications Advisor

027 303 2510


St John media team

PH 0800 756 334





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