By ROBYN BRISTOW
Jeff and Margaret Walker have collectively given nearly a century of service to St John.
Many of those years were devoted to the Culverden-based Amuri St John, where they filled the regular roster, and always made themselves available to crew the second ambulance when the first one was called out.
Both also provided first-response cover in the immediate neighbourhood before an ambulance arrived.
Jeff and Margaret have retired from active duty, with Jeff keeping his hand in as a member of the Amuri Area Committee of St John.
They leave a huge gap in St John’s ranks.
Jeff was in charge of the St John cadets for several years and both have given their time to crewing the events vehicle at A&P Shows, trail-rides and other outdoor events.
Jeff began his connection with St John as an 11-year-old cadet in Auckland.
At 16, he joined the adult service, but also continued to serve as a cadet officer. He took part in many competitions in the North Island, and did a lot of public duty at rugby matches, cinema, theatres and concerts.
He continued to work as a brigade officer in Auckland until the early 90s, followed by 18 months overseas. On his return he joined the Mt Ruapehu Ski Patrol and continued with the brigade.
He met Margaret at Ruapehu, who was also a member of the ski patrol.
Once, when Mt Ruapehu erupted, the pair were tasked with getting injured patients down the slopes in a rescue basket.
Margaret, keen to get more St John experience, joined the Hamilton combined division, and then Mt Wellington (Auckland) St John.
Subsequently she joined the Auckland Nursing Division and attended all public duties customary for St John volunteers. She continued with the division until the birth of their first son, Richard.
Jeff and Margaret moved to Hawarden in 1994. Margaret taught at Hurunui College and joined the local St John. The college wanted teachers with a first-aid certificate, and the Culverden ambulance service was looking for volunteers.
Margaret served as an ambulance officer, and Jeff joined her some years later.
Although both were stationed at Culverden, crewing a night shift at the weekends, they also helped other stations over summer. Margaret also worked with the Geraldine Ambulance Service for five years and Kaikoura for teaching posts there. She was on duty in Kaikoura on the night of the 2016 earthquake.