Seventy-five years ago this week St John Ambulance volunteers played a vital role delivering first aid and providing support to both the public and the armed forces on VE Day.

Throughout the Second World War, the global response by St John Ambulance took in the care of prisoners of war, displaced persons, the wounded and missing, ambulance transport and, of course, the training and provision of medical volunteers. With no NHS until 1948, and stretched hospitals dealing with the casualties of war, St John’s community response on the Home Front saved innumerable lives. Between 1938 and 1945, we trained more than 1.2 million people in first aid, distributed over 3 million copies of the St John Ambulance First Aid Manual, and deployed over 200,000 St John Ambulance volunteers in support of the allies.

Fast forward to today and our charity is undergoing its greatest ever peacetime deployment and challenge. Our volunteers are working tirelessly to support the NHS, crewing ambulances, delivering assistance in Emergency Departments and helping in their local communities, as well as providing vital coordination and training behind the scenes.

I would like to pay tribute to all our volunteers, both past and present – not only those who gave their time freely during the Second World War, but also those who are offering their skills to keep people safe in 2020 as we live through these unprecedented times. Their dedication will not be forgotten.

If readers would like to find out more about our work, or support us now when our presence is required more than ever, they can visit

Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis, Prior and Chair of St John Ambulance.