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Husband and wife volunteer first responders celebrate 20 years of service

Date: 10 July 2024

A husband and wife in Epping have been congratulated for 20 years’ volunteering for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

husband and wife community first responders

John and Sandra Newman, both 77, have been community first responders (CFRs) since 2004, starting with Essex Ambulance Service before it joined other ambulance services to become EEAST. They were recently presented with awards to mark 20 years of service.

Their combined 40 years of volunteering for the Trust has seen them respond to emergency calls in Epping and the surrounding areas, including Theydon Bois, Coopersale, Thornwood, Epping Green, Waltham Abbey, Loughton and Buckhurst Hill.

Together they have been volunteering as emergency responders since the 1960s, as they first volunteered with St John Ambulance. They also helped set up the CFR scheme in London.

CFRs are often first on the scene of an emergency and can provide vital help and support before ambulance crews arrive.

John was awarded an MBE in 2016 in recognition of his services to the community, and Sandra is an Officer of the Order of St John. Sandra is due to retire shortly as a volunteer CFR after a distinguished volunteer career spanning several decades, but hopes to continue volunteering for EEAST in other ways, including through their Community Engagement Group which engages with the public on what they want the ambulance service to deliver.

Sandra said: "I was delighted to be recognised by EEAST for 20 years of volunteer service with EEAST, together with my husband John. It has been a privilege to serve our local community in Epping and the surrounding areas, helping people in their time of need.

"Over those 20 years we have responded to a huge variety of emergencies and helped thousands of people. I am incredibly proud of the work that all volunteers do across the emergency services. Although I will be retiring as a frontline volunteer responder for the ambulance service, I do intend to continue volunteering through other ways such as community engagement and supporting staff welfare."

John added: "I hugely enjoy volunteering as a CFR for EEAST, helping my local community – and it’s even better to volunteer alongside my wife Sandra. We were both honoured to be presented with our 20 year long service awards at a recent gathering of CFRs from across Essex, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

"Every volunteer shift is different, we never know what emergencies we may be called to assist. I have been first on scene at a range of incidents – from life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrests, right through to people who have fallen at home and just need some help getting back on their feet.

"I know how important having a CFR nearby can be in a medical emergency, and EEAST is always looking for more volunteers so I would encourage anyone thinking about it to get in touch and find out more."

For more information on the volunteering opportunities available at EEAST, go to our volunteering page on the Trust website.

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