Dr Maureen Howie, the first ever person from the North West to be invested as a Dame of the Order of St John, says selfless young people remain the backbone of the mission’s key operation, the St John Ambulance, and will do so into the future.
Dr Howie last month travelled to London to be invested as a Dame in recognition of 52 years of service to the St John Ambulance. The current NI President of the St John Ambulance, who was invested by the Grand Prior of the Order, the Duke of Gloucester, said she was proud to have been recognised by her peers but added that recognition also needed to go to the countless volunteers who give up so much of their time to work for the St John Ambulance.
“Of course, I was proud to have been recognised. But I think the important thing is that this can raise awareness of the St John Ambulance and place it in the public eye. The number of young volunteers who go unrecognised, people who are regularly receiving certificates for over one thousand hours of volunteering is really unbelievable,” she said.
She said the impartial and humanitarian service the Ambulance contributed over the past, often fractious, half century was a credit to its members.
Maureen is one of four Dames of the Order in Northern Ireland and is the eighth person from Northern Ireland to have received the laurel bar to her service medal. Only two other members from the city have held the laurel bar, the late Lexie Edgar, and former President Albert Smallwoods. The late Dr Desmond Whyte and Mr Smallwoods are the only local men to have been invested as Knights.
On Monday (December 16), Maureen was officially received by Mayor Martin Reilly at a reception in the Guildhall.