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St John General manager of ambulance operations for the South Island and Lower North Island Roseanne Shaw. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Passion for the community a driving force for St John volunteers

At Hato Hone St John, passion can be found in all corners of the organisation, from the staff who manage the country’s ambulance officers, to the volunteers fundraising in the community.
Puriri’s Roseanne Shaw and Paeroa’s Helen Appleby were two of the ten Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Plains St John members inducted into the Order of St John in June. Their roles within the organisation, although very different, both centre around supporting the community any way that they can.
Roseanne is the general manager of ambulance operations for the South Island and Lower North Island, managing half of New Zealand’s emergency ambulance service staff from her base in Thames. She came to the organisation as a volunteer.
“I decided to join St John as a volunteer ambulance officer in order to get to know some people … and give back to the new community that I was joining,” she said.
“That was June, 2004, and after about two months I decided this was something I wanted to do more of.”

Roseanne worked her way through the ranks, studying to become an intensive care paramedic as well as joining the area committee and training cadets for their national competitions. Her passion for emergency medicine led her to becoming a tutor, teaching ambulance staff, helping develop programmes such as the RSI course – a rapid sequence intubation procedure – and eventually joining Auckland University of Technology as a paramedic lecturer.
“I really missed the camaraderie and the people within St John so I came back over as a territory manager in 2019,” Roseanne said.
Being nominated for investiture was “just humbling”, she said.
“I’m just a member of the whanau and I couldn’t do what I do without everyone else around me.”
Helen, meanwhile, was recommended to St John by a former area committee member after helping them set up a cash book programme.
She has been the volunteer treasurer for the Paeroa area committee for 18 years. She helped with establishing the Paeroa Op Shop, funding an ambulance and a health shuttle, and developing an active community hall and drop-in centre, as well as supporting the ambulance and operations staff any way she could. She was especially proud of her work in getting AEDs – defibrillators – out into the community, Helen said.
“My parents have been big volunteers and I grew up with that,” Helen said.
“The satisfaction of helping somebody, making some good friends, meeting some interesting people – [I feel] pretty humble actually that someone thought I was worthy of being nominated.”
Being able to make a difference in people’s lives is the impetus for both women.

“I mean, I’m in my 60s, so I’m at the end of my career. But I’ve been able to give back to the careers of the paramedics of the future,” Roseanne said.
“And I’ve got a passion particularly for women in leadership and women in paramedicine.
“It’s making a difference in the community that you work in, it’s getting to know the people in the community that you work in, it’s being able to give back. It’s being there in the time of people being at their most vulnerable and just being able to help.”
Helen agreed, saying the region was lucky to have so many willing volunteers.
“It’s pretty awesome that our small community has this many in one area,” she said.
“We’ve obviously got some pretty good volunteers behind the scenes.”