This is the blog for the St John Wales Caring Connections project. The main aim of this project is to connect with our young volunteers and the older generation by using digital storytelling. We hope to create a digital record of St John’s contribution during the Second World War. (click here to find out more).
St John cadet with Winston Churchill during WWII. Copyright Museum of the Order of St John, Clerkenwell.
Interested in getting involved with the project?
We’ll be keeping you up to date with the latest news and stories about the project. You can also select a division from the right hand side to see posts and digital stories from our members.
These stories were collected by Llandrindod Wells cadet Koren Morgan. They were then edited by Andrew Brimer.
David Owens – The Home Guard
David Owens – Evacuation
Margaret Owens – The Farm
Russell Owens – The Air Raids
These stories have been made by our very own Youth of the Year, Andrew Brimer. They have been given by Geraint and Rosemary Hughes, who both currently live in the Llandrindod Wells area. During the War Rosemary lived in Swansea, very near the docks. Her mother was a nurse in one of the First Aid Posts in Swansea, while her father was an ARP warden. Her stories cover her experience of Air Raids and the First Aid post, where she used to help roll bandages when it wasn’t very busy. Her second story also recounts how this experience inspired her to join St. John Cadets in Swansea and how this eventually led her to pursue a career in Nursing. She still had some of her cadet certificates and part of her original uniform.
Geraint lived in both London, Llampeter and Sennybridge. His stories showcase very different aspects of the war, his flight from London with his mother and sister the day that war was declared, and then childhood memories of the “Mile End Army” , a group of children that he used to play with during the war (one of the images is from the register he took every week), including sneaking past sentry posts as spys and collecting incendiary bombs dropped in the fields by German bombers. It finishes with the somber thought, that at night they could see the red sky as Swansea burnt. Geraint is still activley involved in the Order of St. John and has been the Chaplin for Llandrindod Wells Division, as well as writing on the history of the local area.
Geraint – A Boys War
Geraint – Getting Home
Rosemary – The Sand Bucket
Rosemary – St. John
Some of the cadets from Hirwaun division have been visiting Green Hill Manor care home in Merthyr Tydfil. Lucy Davies and Hannah Snedden spoke with one of the residents there, Ernest Nash about his time during the Second World War.
View transcript of Ernest Nash
Ernie Crick is a member of the over 50’s lunchtime club which is held every Wednesday at Lewis School Pengam. Ernie talked about the time he spent in Japan and Australia during his National Service. View transcript
Some of our young volunteers who are taking part in the Caring Connections project have been visiting Lewis School Pengam in Bargoed. The school runs an over 50’s lunch club on a Wednesday where anyone from the local community can have lunch at the school. The programme has been hugely successful. It’s a chance for the older people to meet once a week and play some scrabble and bingo. It’s also an opportunity for the younger students at the school to have contact with some of the older residents in the community.
We spoke with Ernie Crick who is a regular at the lunch club. He is also the bingo caller there. He had a wealth of knowledge and we were very grateful for this time. We’ll be uploading his story in a few days.
Caring Connections is up against three other regional finalists to be named Wales’ Digital Hero.
TalkTalk’s search for the nation’s Digital Heroes has discovered three local candidates, who will now go head to head to win a £5,000 technology grant to help further their cause. People in Wales are being urged to vote for their favourite Digital Hero at http://www.talktalk.co.uk/digitalheroes/.
The individuals with the most votes from each of the twelve regions will be honoured at a ceremony at the House of Commons judged by a panel that includes UK Digital Champion and dotcom entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox.
Eleven of the Digital Heroes winners will win £5,000 to put towards enhancing their digital project while one overall winner, determined by the expert judging panel, will receive a grand prize of £10,000. All 12 winners also get free broadband from TalkTalk for 12 months.
UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox said: “I love hearing about the projects digital heroes are running in communities across the UK, I urge everyone to take inspiration from these amazing ninjas, please don’t forget to vote for your favourite. At Go ON UK we’re very excited to be involved with an initiative that shines a light on the extraordinary things people can achieve through digital technology.”
This digital story was made by cadet Morgan Watkins, Clydach Division.
Morgan interviewed her Great Grandmother, June Facey, about her time in St John whilst growing up in South Africa. View transcript
June completed her St John First Aid training in 1940 at the Queenstown Section of the Cape Town branch of St John.
She was 19 years old at the time, and hadn’t yet married Morgan’s Great Grandfather so her surname was Turner. June’s father was also a Captain of St John around this time.
She married Morgan’s Great Grandfather when she was around 22 years old, whilst he was serving with the RAF out in South Africa.
June came over to Wales in 1945 by sea, which took several weeks, and moved in to Morgan’s Great Grandfather’s family home on Vardre Road in Clydach.
She continued with St John and used to regularly attend the Church Hall in Downe Street, Clydach where it was held at the time.
She is now 91 years old.
Tony’s digital story was made by St John Wales volunteers Ceres Tucker and Bethan Hewitt, Clydach Division. View transcript of Tony’s story
In 1941, aged 15, Tony enlisted in the RAF Cadets in Swansea. He went 2 nights a week until he was 16, when he became an Air Raid messenger in 1942. After recovering from his accident, Tony worked as an Air Raid messenger for over 2 years before going into air crew training with the RAF when he was 18 ½ . In 1945 after his training, he went to India to fight against Japan and was in different stations in Japan and the Himalayas throughout his time there. Whilst in India, Tony served as a Cypher Sergeant and remained in India with the RAF until 1947.
Anne’s digital story was made by Beth and Kate Abbott, Clydach Division as part of the St John Wales Caring Connections project. Anne, 98 was a member of St John Ambulance in Ebbw Vale during the 2nd World War. View transcript of Anne’s story
Beth and Kate thoroughly enjoyed their experience of making the story with Anne.
“The digital story my sister and I did was for a ninty-eight year old lady called Anne who was in St John in Ebbw Vale during the war. After the war she was a cadet leader running meetings for eleven cadets. During the interview Anne told me how much she thoroughly enjoyed St John and how much she loved the cadets she cared for. She told of her role she played during the war in the hospitals and around the area, particularly in the evening. She moved to South Wales when she got married and went into adult nursing. But, don’t let me tell you, listen for yourself…”
Beth and Kate Abbott – Clydach Division
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths praised St John Wales for its “modern” and “professional” work in the community when she visited NHQ on June 11th.
She met with St John volunteers who dedicate countless hours to the organisation and learnt about schemes and initiatives currently being run by the charity across Wales.
After spending time learning BabySafe first aid techniques she was shown the charity’s digital story-telling project Caring Connections.
Mrs Griffiths, who launched the charity’s promotional youth film earlier this year, said: “The work St John does is fantastic and amazing. The two words that really stand out to describe the charity are professional and modern.”