Princess Anne makes ‘fantastic connections’ with St John Ambulance members in Ballymena

The Princess Royal took time to connect with young people from St John Ambulance at a special event in Co Antrim this morning.

The flagship celebration was held at Ballymena Showgrounds to mark the centenary of St John Cadets, together with 35 years of Badgers.

William Somerville, who is Northern Ireland Regional Cadet of the Year as well as Commanderies Cadet of the Year, was one of those who spoke to Princess Anne.

The 16-year-old from Carrickfergus said: “It’s the first time I’ve met her, I’ve been near her, but I haven’t actually met her personally before.

Princess Anne meets young members of St John Ambulance Badgers at Ballymena Showgrounds. Photo by Press Eye

“One of the things I noticed about the Princess Royal was she took her time with everyone she talked to, to get to know them, to connect with them. That was a fantastic thing she did.”

William has been with St John five years. He has completed his Silver Duke of Edinburgh award and is working towards his Gold award.

He said: “My ultimate dream is to become a paramedic and stay with St John Ambulance for the foreseeable future. I don’t ever see myself leaving, it’s such a fantastic organisation.

“The opportunities it’s given me as Commanderies Cadet of the Year are incredible. What I can give back is my service, giving my time to the community and the organisation.”

Princess Anne with members of St John Ambulance at Ballymena Showgrounds. Photo by Press Eye

Tim Whittle, Regional Youth Adventure Lead with St John Ambulance, said: “It was very much a celebration of our centenary year of youth.

“There are fantastic opportunities for young people within the organisation, particularly our Badgers and Cadets. We have no shortage of young people but always looking for volunteers to deliver the programme.”

Of the Princess Royal, he said: “She was very supportive of youth. She is the Commandant in Chief of St John Ambulance Cadets. She’s very interested in what the young people are doing and very supportive of the volunteer leaders as well.”

Within St John Ambulance, as part of the organisation’s youth programme, they deliver the Duke of Edinburgh programme. There was a contingent of current and past DoE participants at the event.

Ballymena Showgrounds played host to a Royal visit on Tuesday morning. Photo by Press Eye
Princess Anne meets young members of St John Ambulance at Ballymena Showgrounds. Photo by Press Eye