Staying relevant to new generations of volunteers and
retaining volunteers in rural areas are challenges for St
John, members and guests from the Central Lakes districts
heard at the service awards night on Friday.
Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper said the charitable ambulance
emergency service was as relevant to him in the community as
it had always been.
However, he said the biggest challenge for St John was to
stay relevant to the new young volunteers the service would
come to rely on.
St John had to ''speak their language'' and enable them to
rise through the ranks quickly, instead of over decades.
The mayor said the organisation was well placed to do so with
its youth programmes.
St John South Island region general manager David Thomas, of
Christchurch, echoed recruitment issues when he spoke, and he
also addressed the shortfall of rural doctors.
It was a challenge to retain St John volunteers in small
rural communities because would-be volunteers feared they
might have to treat ''friends and family, people they went to
school with, next door neighbours''.
More than 200 years of service by St John members in
Alexandra, Cromwell, Roxburgh and the Wakatipu were
recognised with the presentation of certificates and uniform
bars by St John senior order member Ian Rae, of Lake Hawea.
St John Wanaka held its own service awards.