Volunteer honoured with ‘This is your Life’ extravaganza for 100th birthday
PUBLISHED: 14:19 20 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:19 20 February 2020
The centenary of a stalwart volunteer has been celebrated with a special ‘This is your Life’ themed event.
Held days before the 100th birthday of George Cable, the special event highlighted the dedication of a man who devoted thousands of hours of voluntary work for St John Ambulance in Lowestoft over many decades.
Mr Cable, a former divisional superintendent of the Lowestoft Ambulance Division of St John Ambulance (SJA), travelled from his current home in Cardiff to be at the special celebration of his 100th birthday.
With Mr Cable marking his 100th birthday on Sunday, February 16, a special event, held at the St John Ambulance Training Centre in Oxford Road, Lowestoft, attracted a large gathering of his family.
It included his sister, friends, former St John colleagues and current volunteers including Cadets and Badgers, who all helped to celebrate his centenary.
Special guests in attendance were Lady Fiona Barttelot, National President of the St John Fellowship, and Ann Cable, Chief Commissioner of St John Ambulance.
Compèred by Tony Curd, the St John Unit President at Lowestoft, George was greeted by the theme music of the TV programme and the introduction made popular by Eamonn Andrews, who would have said: "Yes, tonight, George Cable, this is your life."
After tracing Mr Cable's early life, involvement with St John and his remarkable long service, his contribution to the Lowestoft Unit was also acknowledged with two final presentations by Lady Barttelot and Ann Cable before Andrew Rivett, grandson-in-law of Mr Cable and the St John District Fundraising Lead, brought a birthday cake - made by George's granddaughter Vickie - to be cut to conclude a memorable celebration.
Mr Curd said: "During his time with the Division, George gave a staggering 4,707 hours of voluntary service in total.
"His hard work laid the foundations for the excellent reputation the Unit has today and as well as being awarded the Service Medal for 25 years' service, he was admitted to the Order of St John as a Serving Brother in 1980.
"Two years later he decided to step down as Divisional Superintendent but continued as an Ambulance Member for two more years."
Mr Cable was born on February 16 1920 at a house in Lorne Road, Lowestoft.
The fourth of seven children, he went to Lovewell Road School. He also spent some time in the Boys' Brigade and left school aged 14.
Mr Curd said: "His first job was at Woods Bakery where he made bread deliveries and then worked at the former Silk Works in School Road before being called up in 1939 to serve in the Loyal Suffolk Hussars which was an Anti-Tank Regiment.
"On the night before D-Day he was on board a ship ready to cross to France when the vessel took a direct hit and an enemy bomb entered the funnel of the ship but did not explode.
"George slept through this all and the delay in arriving at the beaches in Normandy may possibly have saved him from becoming one of the casualties on June 6 1944."
After the war Mr Cable worked for numerous building firms including the Lowestoft Co-operative society and the British Transport Docks & Railway Board.
In early 1952 he met his future wife Sheila and they married in March 1953, setting up home in Payne Street before later moving to Long Road.
They had three children, Alex, Roderick and Jo, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Sadly Sheila died in 2011 after 58 years of marriage.
St John involvement
Mr Cable's first involvement with St John Ambulance was with the British Railways Ambulance Centre and this led to him joining the Lowestoft Division in 1961.
Mr Curd said: "He developed an interest in casualty simulation and joined Casualties Union and was also a member of the Division's successful competition team.
"In the late 60s he started work at Richard's Shipbuilders where he was responsible for all first aid on site, timekeeping and also ran the canteen.
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"Around this time the Division bought and converted a First Aid Unit and he was heavily involved in this project.
"He progressed from an Ambulance Member to Sergeant and then in 1972 he was appointed Divisional Superintendent.
"At the time voluntary St John staff provided the night-time ambulance cover for Lowestoft and surrounding district each night.
"But as these duties were becoming increasingly difficult to sustain, George successfully managed the transition and negotiations with the East Suffolk County Council and refocused the work of St John on public duties.
"As a result of these changes in the ambulance service, St John Ambulance no longer had its own vehicle in Lowestoft.
"One of his first major achievements was to launch an appeal in 1973 for the purchase of a brand new ambulance costing £4,000 - today this is the equivalent of £42,000."