John Bain has been awarded St John's highest honour but, by his own admission, applying a sticking plaster is the extent of his medical abilities.

After more than 40 years' association with St John in Northland, Mr Bain has been made a Knight of the Order of St John.

The 70-year-old is quick to point out volunteers and frontline staff are the heroes of the service, and provide a rapid medical response service that is the best in the world.

"I believe everyone in New Zealand should have equal opportunity to high class healthcare and I believe that's what we have now in Northland."


His involvement with St John goes back to when the new station was being built on Western Hills Drive.

The old station on Alexander St was falling apart and there was a board of four who pushed for the new station.

"When I was first asked to raise money for that I thought I would be outside the post office shaking a bucket. It was a great project. We built it with the assistance of the Whangarei District Council and it opened after 12 months, freehold."

Mr Bain was also heavily involved with establishing the rescue helicopter service.

Northland Emergency Services Trust's rescue helicopter service has saved the lives of more than 1000 people since it began, and flown more than 15,000 people in need. Mr Bain is quick to say he's proud to have been part of developing a world-class rescue helicopter service in Northland but he's equally as quick to point out it has been a team effort.

As chairman, he focused on funding, while a dedicated team of pilots and medical staff did the job. He stepped down in 2013. He still strives to get the financial backing to support the crews in Northland.

"St John being a charity, it's tough. There are increasing demands on fundraising and the money we are getting is being spread thinner and thinner and that's the problem at the moment."

A fully equipped ambulance costs $200,000


Mr Bain has had the official letter from the Queen acknowledging the award.

"It's a big honour. My family have been terribly patient. They have gone without sometimes, so I could follow the process."

Currently, Mr Bain is part of the 12-member priory chapter that governs the organisation throughout the country.

At a local level, he is on on the regional and Whangarei Area committees. Last year, Mr Bain was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Mr Bain will be invested with the insignia of a knight on July 2, at St Patrick's Cathedral, Auckland by Governor-General Jerry Mateparae. He is only the second Northlander to become a Knight of St John, after businessman Ashton Kelly in the 1950s.