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Hilary Haysom has served at St John Paeroa for 34 of her 50 years with the organisation.

Hilary marks half a century with St John

Hilary Haysom has responded to 1175 callouts, represented St John New Zealand at Singapore and assisted a woman in labour amongst the America’s Cup crowds at Auckland.
The former St John Paeroa emergency nurse has now been honoured with a 50-year service medal for her dedication to the organisation.
Hilary told The Profile her parents inspired her to join as a St John cadet in 1961 while her family was living in Mangakino.
“My mother and father were in St John and my father used to teach people how to fire guns, and when he came back from the war he used to bake the cakes and everything for the cadets,” she said.


Hilary, whose husband Ray also served with St John, said she then served with St John in Tūrangi in 1966 before shifting to Waihī Beach in 1970.
“My mother was an incredible lady, everybody loved her at Waihī Beach, she loved kids and she set up a [St John] office at the surf club,” she said.
“They used to have to call the ambulance in Waihī but they needed somebody on at Waihī Beach and that was mum when all those things came out.”
After departing Waihī Beach in 1973, Hilary worked as a nurse at Thames Hospital before rejoining St John in Paeroa in 1977 where she has remained ever since. Her main highlight has purely been “helping people”.
“There was one lady who had asthma and she collapsed on the floor and her mother was calling me. I spoke to her very loudly and said ‘you’re going to be alright’,” she said.
“What you do with people with asthma is you get them to breathe with you and that works because they’re slowing down.
“There was also a lady I was asked to look after and she was a crabby old woman and no one could get to her, and she said ‘I hate people but you could come in and try’.
“But in the end I just treated her like a lovely woman and she said to me ‘you are the best best person I’ve ever had’.”
Hilary’s other highlights included winning the St John national trophy at a national competition in 1980 while representing Auckland, and representing St John New Zealand at an international competition at Singapore in the 1980s.
She also assisted a woman who went into labour amongst the America’s Cup crowds at Auckland in 2000.
“Sir Peter Blake was there saying ‘hello St John’… and when we won it a lady started to have a baby in the middle of the crowd and we had to run to get her out but we couldn’t because of the crowds,” she said.
Hilary responded to 1175 callouts during her time as an emergency nurse until she stepped down from the role 10 years ago.
One incident she will never forget was a crash between a car and a motorbike on Rawhiti Rd near Te Aroha.
“The car actually crossed the centre line and the motorbike hit the front and was embedded in the front of the car.
“There was petrol all over the car and the car was on fire and the guy actually got flung from his motorbike over the top of the car.
“He died before he hit the ground… it was very traumatic,” she said.
Hilary acknowledged Shirley Moleni, Peter Young, Jackie Thorne and Angie Howard, who she had worked with during her time at St John Paeroa.
She now serves as a volunteer at St John Paeroa Opportunity Shop and will officially be presented her service medal on October 8.