Little Whelnetham Volunteer Receives Prestigious Honour

Thursday, 16 December, 2010

A SUFFOLK woman has received a prestigious honour at a London ceremony.

Sarah Farr, from Little Whelnetham, near Bury St Edmunds, has been recognised for her contribution towards first aid with St John Ambulance by being invested into the Order of St John.

The honour was bestowed at a special ceremony on Thursday 9 December in the Order's historic 12th century Priory Church in London's Clerkenwell.

People can only become members of the Order of St John if they have shown exceptional service to its key foundations - one of which is St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid charity. The Order of St John is a Royal Order of Chivalry and each recipient is approved by Her Majesty the Queen, its Sovereign Head.

Up to 150,000 people die each year in situations where first aid could have given them a chance to live. St John Ambulance believes no one should die because they needed first aid and didn't get it and the work of volunteers such as Sarah is crucial in being the difference between lives lost and lives saved.

Sarah is currently deputy commissioner, operational training for St John Ambulance Suffolk and was presented with the Order's insignia by Rodney Green, the Prior of the Priory of England and the Islands, who was appointed in the prestigious position of Prior only this month. The Prior is the Chairman of the Priory of England and The Islands (part of the Order of St John).

Sarah said of her investiture as Serving Sister: 'It's a real honour to become a member of the Order of St John and to receive it for doing something I love makes it even more special. I joined St John Ambulance so that I could learn first aid and be the difference between a life lost and a life saved but I never thought it would lead to something like this. During my 25 years with the charity I've enjoyed many different experiences, but one of my most vivid is, with a very real fear of heights, being stuck halfway up a mountainside in the pouring rain, waiting to be 'rescued' on a joint teams training exercise. Without doubt being part of St John Ambulance adds some very special dimensions to your life.'

The Prior, Rodney Green, said: 'I'm delighted to invest Sarah into the Order of St John. Sarah was honoured in recognition of her dedicated service to St John Ambulance, which is committed to making sure no one dies through a lack of first aid training. As one of the charity's 40,000 volunteers, her work is integral to its work in communities across the country.'

The investiture ceremony takes place three times a year. Around a hundred people from communities across the country are invested on each occasion, the majority of whom are St John Ambulance volunteers.

The Order of St John is one of the world's oldest charities and traces its origins back 900 years to the Knights Hospitaller and the first Hospital of St John in Jerusalem in 1078.

Its international history and work will shortly be showcased in the revamped Museum of the Order of St John opening on 2 November in Clerkenwell, London.

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