Order honours for first aiders

Two Norfolk first aiders have had their efforts recognised at a ceremony in London.

St John Ambulance volunteers Maureen Payne from North Walsham and Wendy Green of Neathishead were invested into the Order of St John at 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 its sovereign head the Queen.

St John Ambulance trains and deploys people like Maureen and Wendy to try to prevent up to 150,000 people dying each year in situations where first aid could have given them a chance to live.

The two were presented with the Order's insignia by Rodney Green, the newly-appointed Prior of the Priory of England and the Islands, who said the commitment of the charity's 40,000 volunteers was central to its work.

Maureen, who has been serving the charity since 1992 said: 'My volunteering life and day job as a care manager at a day centre are both about helping people and so it's a real honour to become a member of the Order of St John. It was very emotional going to London and being recognised in such a way, especially as I don't know who nominated me.'

Wendy has recently been appointed divisional superintendant of the Wroxham and Lingwood division, added: 'I've been involved with St John Ambulance for nearly 30 years and what I love about it is making a difference in my local community. The trip to London was very special and made me incredibly proud to be part of such a special organisation.'

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The investiture ceremony involving about 100 people, mostly St John's volunteers, takes place three times a year,

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 November 2 in Clerkenwell, London.

• For information about St John Ambulance please call 08700 10 49 50 or visit www.sja.org.uk