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St John Ambulance celebrates 80 years of first aid in Melksham

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Melksham St John Ambulance volunteers, past and present, marked 80 years of service to the community with a party on Tuesday 6th November.

The first aid charity’s team has been stepping forward to support the town in various ways, since it was founded in 1938.  And their contributions were celebrated in style, as the Melksham unit welcomed dignitaries including the town’s Mayor, cllr Adrienne Westbrook and St John’s County Priory Group chairman, Mark Pountain.

 SJA volunteer unit manager Andrew Freestone said, “It was a great night and fantastic to have so much support from our home town, senior St John personnel, our families and friends from neighbouring units.  I think our area president, Jonathon Seed, summed it up best when he said our founder members would have been looking down on us with pride.”

 Andrew, whose day job is with South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) added, “I’m certainly very proud of my whole team, especially of the role our Cadets played in making the night such a huge success. It’s good to know the future of St John Ambulance in Melksham is in safe hands – hopefully for at least another 80 years!”

 Led by Cadet Corporal Madeleine Clarkson, the charity’s 10 to 17-year-old Cadets gave demonstrations of practical life-saving skills such as how to give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and apply bandages, as well as organising fun activities for the unit’s guests.  And a stunning first aid-themed Victoria sponge cake, baked by Andrew’s SWASFT colleague Katie McNee, was cut to celebrate the occasion.

 Historical records held by the Museum of St John show that when Melksham’s St John Ambulance Unit – then called a division – opened in 1938, ‘Air Raid Precautions’ were among the duties Wiltshire’s volunteers gave their time for.

 Nowadays the charity’s team is kept busy providing first aid cover for events locally, throughout Wiltshire, and further afield.

 For more information on St John Ambulance’s work, including how to become a volunteer or make a donation to the charity, and details of training for the public, schools and businesses, visit www.sja.org.uk or call 08700 104950.

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