By Sarah Cutting, Community Engagement Officer for St John Cymru
I’ve just finished working at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Builth Wells, where we spent a week talking about our history and celebrating our centenary with the public. I’m taking a little time to reflect on the experiences I had whilst there and wanted to share them with you all…
It was a tremendous event. The sun was shining, despite a forecast of torrential rain, the Eisteddfod participants talent was off the scale and it seemed like everyone had a great time. We were joined on our stand for the whole week by one of our volunteers Michael Morgans MBE who went to work giving first aid demonstrations – we were able to give a whopping 440 demonstrations throughout the week! That’s a lot of people who’ve learnt the vital skills they need to save a life. Michael also became our resident media presenter, which I know he enjoyed immensely, representing the organisation on various radio and television items alongside some of our Cadets.
Throughout the week Bertie Badger made a few appearances and had a hoot meeting all the children (and a couple of adults!). He won at hook-a-duck in the fair, met fellow mascots from other organisations, ordered some chocolate strawberries when he got a bit peckish, brushed up on his CPR skills, and even hitchhiked a lift in one of the event buggies when he got too hot to walk back to the shelter! Through funding from the Heritage Lottery, we’ve been able to create a history display including boards detailing our story, photographs of the great work that St John Cymru has done over the last 100 years, and a display of historical first aid items; a training skeleton and a porcelain urinal were some of the items that caused a stir amongst some youngsters! Of course, our wonderful centenary ambulance was with us and enjoyed by many of the young revellers – our ears got a bit of a bashing from the horn… but that didn’t put a stop to our fun!
It was a tough week for all involved with early starts and late finishes, and whilst I am absolutely exhausted after working 6 days away from home, I am still a little overwhelmed by the wonderful people I met and worked with over the week. As it was Volunteers’ Week last week, I think it is entirely fitting to talk about the work of our volunteers, and their passion for both the organisation and the welfare of their communities which has been truly exposed to me over this week. I could not have attempted running our stand without their help. Whether it was travelling for miles to help man the Eisteddfod stand, assisting with Bertie in the immense heat, helping to manoeuvre the centenary ambulance or Cadets and Badgers handing out flyers and giving CPR demonstrations; nothing was too much trouble for our amazing volunteers and I am eternally grateful for all of their help! All alongside doing the event duty work and ensuring there was first aid available to every visitor. Our volunteers have worked endlessly – travelling a couple of hours there and back each day from their homes in order to support our cause and ensure that the visitors to the Urdd were kept safe. I commend them.
It is safe to say we all had a great time, promoting St John heritage, and my Welsh has certainly improved! Hopefully, we will have many more great times at the other events we have scheduled over the summer and you might be able to join in the fun and spot our centenary ambulance on tour! If so, don't forget to tag us in your pictures and use our dedicated hashtag #SJCW100!
Find out more about our centenary at: www.stjohn.wales/100