St John Ambulance veteran gets ‘knighthood’ to mark service

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A VETERAN member of St John Ambulance has been given one of the organisation’s highest accolades to honour more than four decades of service.

Steve Burke, 55, of Brayton, Selby, has been appointed a knight of the Order of St John in tribute to the 44 years he has been involved with the renowned first aid charity.

Mr Burke, who is currently Deputy County Commissioner Operations for St John Ambulance North Yorkshire and Teesside, joined the local St John Ambulance Cadets in 1968 aged 12. After learning he has been made a knight, Mr Burke said: “It’s a real surprise – such an honour. I am over the moon.”

Mr Burke was inspired to join St John Ambulance after he came across a road accident when he was a child, but was unable to help administer first aid to a man who had been badly injured.

After four years as a cadet he gained the Grand Prior’s Award presented by St John Ambulance Commandant-in-Chief (Youth) Princess Anne at a ceremony in Hyde Park. The award is the highest a cadet can achieve and marks at least three years of studying 24 different subjects such as first aid, communication and working in the community.

Mr Burke was 15 when he became an adult member and rapidly moved up the ranks. At 20, he was appointed cadet superintendent, the youngest in the country. He also helped write a countryside guide for youth leaders, which involved extensive travel including to Northern Ireland and Jersey.

In 2008, he was given responsibility for major events, emergency planning and special projects, which included negotiating contracts with NHS ambulance trusts.

Up to 150,000 people die each year in situations where St John Ambulance has stressed first aid could have given them a chance to live.