QSM recognises long involvement

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A comment made during a golf game started an involvement with the West Otago St John for Janet Affleck that recently led her to being awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the New Year Honours list.
The award recognised the 26 years Mrs Affleck, of Tapanui, had volunteered with the organisation in several roles, including operations manager from 1995 to 2005, area committee secretary from 2005 to 2014 and ambulance officer.
Mrs Affleck said she was playing golf with the wife of a St John member who commented the organisation was short of volunteers.
“I said, `that’s something I’ve always thought I would like to do’,” Mrs Affleck said.
Later on in the day, Mrs Affleck received a phone call from the woman’s husband, who told her the group were training that night.
“So I went that night and I’ve never stopped going –¬†you open your mouth, you carry on.”
She really enjoyed the work.
“[It’s] very rewarding, else I wouldn’t have kept it up.”
Mrs Affleck aspired to be a nurse as a girl but being involved in a car crash in Waikaka as a teenager gave her insight into the good work St John volunteers do.
“At that time there was
only one ambulance in Gore and it broke a fan belt, so I was taken to hospital by private car.
“It was local first aiders that were on the scene and I’ve often thought, `well, if they could do it, most people should be able to’.”
When she started in St John, three of her four children were at school and there were times when Mrs Affleck was called away from the family on ambulance duty.
“They were self-supporting and looked after themselves, to a certain degree.
“I couldn’t have done it on my own if they hadn’t been supportive.”
She usually worked two 12-hour shifts a week but in holiday times she could work most days to fill in for members who were away.
The West Otago group covered Lawrence and Roxburgh but the ambulance also helped out in Gore and sometimes Balclutha.
West Otago St John needed more people to volunteer their time.
“If more volunteers don’t come forward, I don’t know where the service is going.
“The dedicated ones can’t keep going forever.”
Two of her sons were fire brigade volunteers and one was also an ambulance officer.
“They are carrying on and doing the same work.”
In her spare time, Mrs Affleck, a former Highland dancer, choreographed the tractor dance for the West Otago Vintage Club.