Tamworth St John Ambulance calls for new volunteers for help

HEROES IN GREEN: Tamworth St John Ambulance superintendent Margaret O'Connor and member Dylan Johnston practice CPR on a dummy. Photo: Gareth Gardner
HEROES IN GREEN: Tamworth St John Ambulance superintendent Margaret O'Connor and member Dylan Johnston practice CPR on a dummy. Photo: Gareth Gardner

BUS DRIVERS, shop keepers and bakers, they’re the regular people by day who do the extraordinary for others.

St John Ambulance Tamworth is on the hunt for new event volunteers, a watchful eye on the sideline of football games and fairs ready to step in when first aid is needed.

Superintendent Margaret O’Connor has done everything from putting a bandaid on a small cut to assisting someone who has had a stroke.

“When I first started I had a family crisis, I always wanted to be a nurse but didn’t quite make it,” she said.

“I joined St John thinking it might fulfill part of that dream of nursing and I’ve stayed there ever since.

“It’s the people you meet, the satisfaction of helping the community and keeping your brain active.”

It’s 36 years since Ms O’Connor first joined St John, since then she’s been to hundreds of local sports games, markets and events.

Quietly waiting in the wings just in case, she’s been there for many of Tamworth’s major milestones.

All she asks for is a pie and a can of drink in return.

“We’re only a small group, we get so many requests and sometimes we have to turn them down but we try our best,” she said.

“We’re always looking for volunteers, we have such a big area to cover so the more people that we can recruit it saves those volunteers who have to be on everything so perhaps they can have a weekend off.”

In Tamworth, the cadet class sees students aged eight to 18 train to work with St John Ambulance, they meet every week while the adults train fortnightly.

Volunteers can choose how much or how little they’d like to be involved, some work every weekend anywhere from Quirindi, Gunnedah or Nundle to those that pitch in here and there.

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It’s the uniqueness of the people she works with that Ms O’Connor loves.

“We come from all walks of life, from bus drivers to nurses and doctors,” she said.

“The bulk are just everyday mum’s and dad’s, shop workers, people who want to up skill and get out there.”

St John Ambulance has been helping Australians for 130 years, and provides first aid training and volunteers to community events.

It’s part of a long legacy of service, started by The Order of St John – its origins can be traced back 900 years to the Knights Hospitaller.

For Tamworth volunteer information contact Ms O’Connor on 0409 307 782‬.

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