Honour for volunteers


FOUR north Derbyshire volunteers, who have given hours of their own time to serve with St John Ambulance, have been honoured with investiture into the Order of St John.

Brian Commons, Derbyshire’s senior member support officer, is promoted to officer brother; Ian and Susan Towndrow of Dronfield Division and Jean Hudson, Pleasley president, have been invested as Serving Brother or Sisters. The honours were bestowed at a special ceremony at the Order’s historic Priory Church, in London.

Membership of the Order is given only to those who have shown exceptional service. Each recipient is approved by the Queen.

Brian Commons, of Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield, has been part of St John Ambulance for 50 years. A retired Rolls-Royce engineer, his first aid experience made him a useful member of crew on motor sport rescue ambulances.

He said: “This has enabled me to use my first aid training on a number of occasions, including a rescue from a crashed aircraft in January 1987.”

Ian Towndrow and his wife, Susan, both joined St John Ambulance 21 years ago. Susan is now divisional superintendent and Ian divisional officer in Dronfield. Both are also assessors and community first responders – providing emergency first aid in their neighbourhood until an ambulance arrives.

Ian’s regular job is with the patient transport service at Walton Hospital, but he also carries out regular duties with St John Ambulance, including assisting with trackside recovery during F1 racing at Donington Park and Silverstone.

Despite the excitement of racing, Ian said: “The most dramatic experience I’ve had was the first cardiac arrest I attended. Thankfully, many years on, the patient is still with us.”

Susan is a teaching assistant at a special school, but also devotes much of her spare time to St John Ambulance. Her most memorable duties include Princess Diana’s funeral and taking part in a ‘death slide’ fundraiser for Weston Park Hospital – even though she is scared of heights.

Susan says: ‘With both Ian and myself being involved with St John Ambulance, it makes it easier for us to carry out the amount of work we do. This is an unbelievable honour, especially as Priory members said it was very unusual for a husband and wife to receive awards at the same time.’

Jean Hudson, of Calow, has been involved with St John Ambulance for more than 30 years. She initially began by helping husband Bob (now a deputy commissioner), then became Badger leader in Arkwright. Since 2005 she has been president of Pleasley Division.

Jean said: “We had a wonderful day and everyone was so friendly. I’d like to thank those who nominated me for the honour.”