Life-saving skills and memories of bygone days at Lowestoft St John Ambulance open day

St John Ambulance Lowestoft Division open day.
Brian Hall demonstrating the recovery position. St John Ambulance Lowestoft Division open day. Brian Hall demonstrating the recovery position.

Sunday, January 26, 2014
5:22 PM

Modern lifesaving methods were showcased alongside memories of yesteryear during an open day to celebrate the centenary of the Lowestoft division of St John Ambulance.

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The Lowestoft St John Ambulance division's first motorised ambulance, pictured in Arnold Street in 1919.The Lowestoft St John Ambulance division's first motorised ambulance, pictured in Arnold Street in 1919.

Visitors were invited the first aid charity’s training centre in Oxford Road, Lowestoft, to view displays of its history, watch life-saving demonstrations and learn more about the work it does today.

They were also encouraged to contribute their own memories to a larger heritage exhibition marking 100 years of St John in Lowestoft, which will open this summer.

District manager for St John Ambulance Tony Curd, who has researched the history of the unit as part of the project, said: “The reason for the open day is three fold. It is for recruitment, getting people interested in first aid and to highlight the rich history of St John Ambulance in Lowestoft.

“There is a fantastic amount of information and photographs and we want to make sure that is available as possible to people in the local community.”

The project is being funded with an £11,500 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The exhibition this summer will focus on memories, photos and equipment associated with the local history of the organisation.

The charity’s long-term aim is to set up a small heritage centre at its headquarters in Oxford Road.

The Lowestoft division opened in 1914 shortly before the start of the first world war.

Mr Curd said there had been a great fear of Zeppelin air raids in Lowestoft so a doctor had put out a public appeal for people to be trained in first aid.

Up until 1974, the ambulance service was the responsibility of the county council and stopped at night, leaving the volunteers of St John to take over.

St John Ambulance has now gone full circle and it is once again providing support to the East of England Ambulance Service as well as nursing homes and hospitals.

The Lowestoft unit employs several full-time staff, who provide ambulance transport services.

Volunteers still give their time to help out at public events, which remains a key part of the charity’s work. Their aim is to be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.

■ Visit www.sja.org.uk for more information.

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