First aider Robert Burns celebrates 50 years in voluntary first aid sector

Just over fifty years ago Robert Burns received his first certificate in First Aid. Since then he has been a very valued volunteer First Aider with St Andrew’s First Aid. Commenting on his service with the charity Robert said: “It has been a great honour and privilege to be involved with the organisation for so many years. It has given me so many happy memories. I remember being on duty when Queen Elizabeth officially opened Glasgow Airport. We then had to pile into the back of ambulances which took us over to Clydebank for the launch of the QE2. When you consider the number of events which I have been to it makes you appreciate how lucky I have been as a volunteer”.

Robert first became involved with St Andrew’s First Aid at the age of 17 when he decided to expand his knowledge of First Aid. He had been a member of the Boys Brigade which was what had sparked his interest. Remembering his youth Robert said: “As young boys we were all offered the opportunity to progress the training which we had received through the BBs. Not everyone did but it was something which I was interested in so I went along”.

Two years later Robert joined St Andrew’s Ambulance Corps (St Andrew’s First Aid). By now he was a 19 year old man in full time employment with British Rail, an organisation which had strong links with St Andrew’s First Aid at that time. In fact so strong were the links that Robert joined Queen Street BR Company – a company that mainly comprised of members of British Rail. Robert said: “British Rail was great and really supportive of its members who volunteered with St Andrew’s First Aid. They would even give you time off to attend what we called public duties (events).”

This was the start a long and distinguished association for Robert with St Andrew’s First Aid, one of the highlights of which was the award of an MBE in 1999. He was awarded the title by Her Majesty the Queen in 2000 and Robert recalled: “I had left for work early that morning and had missed the post. It wasn’t until I arrived at work that my wife Vivian called me to say that I had received a letter from the Cabinet Office and that she had opened it by accident. Of course the letter only says that you have been nominated and asks if you will accept the award. In order to find out, I had to wait until to honours list was published and then go out and buy a paper to see if my name was in it”.

In 2012, Robert will have completed 50 years voluntary service with St Andrew’s First Aid. Commenting on the outstanding achievement Stuart Callison, Chief Executive Officer with St Andrew’s First Aid said: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of St Andrew’s First Aid and Robert’s half century of service to the organisation is a unique achievement, and I would like to congratulate him on behalf of everyone at St Andrew’s First Aid. In a crisis it is critical that first aid is delivered with confidence and without dedicated volunteers such as Robert we simply could not deliver first aid in Scotland, which helps thousands of people in crisis every year.”

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