St John award fitting for volunteer
A long-time volunteer is now a commander, sanctioned by the Queen.
Peter Hillgrove has spent 37 years giving his time to St John for free and this month his service was recognised with a Commander of the Order of St John award.
"I'm really rapt," he says. "But I don't do my job at St John to get rewards.
"I do my job because I'm part of a team."
The East Tamaki resident started volunteering with the organisation as a teenager.
"I lost my Dad when I was a young kid and all my mates were in St John," he says.
It "became my family, virtually".
Mr Hillgrove received the highest award of the 13 Aucklanders recognised in this year's St John honours list, a list of rewards approved by Buckingham Palace.
The self-employed data-cabling company director says he is just one of many hard-working volunteers and permanent staff.
"I've met some wonderful people over the years in St John, very dedicated people who give 110 per cent."
In his role as St John district volunteers adviser, Mr Hillgrove looks after six different volunteer groups, driving around events backing them up and making sure they are safe.
"I really enjoy it," Mr Hillgrove says.
He has praise for the frontline staff who often have a heavy workload and cop abuse.
"People seem to forget that we are a charitable organisation," he says.
Mr Hillgrove is an elected member of the organisation's Manukau Area Committee for which he holds the volunteers portfolio.
He is also active within the Major Incident Support Team, formed after the Christchurch earthquakes to respond to disasters.
After the 2011 earthquake he helped out working with patients on the front line.
"I don't know when to say no, that's my biggest problem."
St John regional manager Gary Salmon says Mr Hillgrove demonstrates the core values of the organisation.
"Peter has continued to be a well-respected and dedicated member of St John, becoming involved in new areas of responsibilities and continuing to support a wide range of St John activities," he says.
Mr Hillgrove received the Blundell Kindness Award in 2011.
He was recognised as the Operational Volunteer Member of the Year 2010.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should we raise the retirement age?