Awards honour St John 'saint'

HONOURED: Joan McCardle has been volunteering with St John since she was eight years old.
HONOURED: Joan McCardle has been volunteering with St John since she was eight years old.

Joan McCardle has had a busy time of it lately, receiving two awards in the space of a week.

Joan, 66, who has been volunteering with St John since she was 8, received the Health Care Provider Service Award from Health Minister Tony Ryall for setting up the Friends of Emergency Department (Feds) at Taranaki Base Hospital in 2011.

Also last week she was awarded the title of Officer in the Order of St John at an investiture ceremony in Auckland.

Joan said Feds was about comforting patients in a non-clinical way.

"We make cups of tea, give out sandwiches, give people blankets if they are cold," she said.

They will even call a neighbour if a patient is worried about their cat getting fed.

She has a base of about 35 volunteers with another 12 in the pipeline.

"People drop off. Standing on your feet for four hours is quite demanding. And people move away or get jobs."

One 19-year-old, who volunteered for about a year, had gone on to university with the aim of becoming a paramedic, she said.

"We can't take on anyone who has a registered medical degree, but we have got some nurses who no longer do nursing."

Joan has clocked up 47 years with St John.

"It gets in your blood, once you're there, you are there."

Taranaki Daily News