Local St John Ambulance members who have helped people during some of their most difficult times in life have been recognised for their long service.

A St John service award ceremony was held yesterday at the Commercial Traveller's Club to acknowledge 41 members in the Lakes and Bay of Plenty area.

Rotorua ambulance officer Nigel Caley, who received an award for 32 years of service, said he was told by his father to do something community orientated when he left school.

He enrolled in a first aid course and was asked if he wanted to join the adult division of St John.


Caley did a couple of ambulance jobs for events while he was still in the brigade, and was then asked to join the ambulance side of St John.

He said it felt "pretty special" to receive the service award.

"It's been 32 years of my life and I've enjoyed every moment of the job."

Caley's highlights included becoming an intensive care paramedic and completing a postgraduate diploma in paramedic science.

His wife, Karleen Caley was also acknowledged, having served for 22 years.

She joined when she was 17 because her parents were involved.

She initially joined the community side of St John but joined the ambulance section when she was 20.

"It's nice to get recognition of my service ... I've enjoyed being able to do voluntary work and give back to the community."


The couple's children Thomas, 9, and Brendon, 11, are in the local St John youth programme.

St John central region general manager Andrew Boyd said volunteers were needed in the community and made up a vast majority of the numbers in St John.

He said members received service certificates at three, six, and nine years, then a medal at 12 years. From there an award is given for every five years of service.

"There are people here for decades of service.

"It's just a great turnout, there's always a big turnout in Rotorua."

He said it was great to have the support of the mayor, district health board and local MPs at the awards - "it makes it a more special day for those receiving awards".

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick thanked St John for building resilient communities and said it was about recognising long service by hardworking individuals within the St John service.

"Thank you for the service you provide. We know you're there if something happens and that's the very safe feeling as a community that we must have."