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Members of St John Ambulance in Griffithstown celebrate its 100th anniversary

large group of people in a community hall
Past and present members of St John Ambulance's Griffithstown division at their 100th anniversary party (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

Former and current members of St John Ambulance’s Griffithstown division have celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Around 70 people gathered in the group’s hall on Greenway Drive on Sunday afternoon to mark the special occasion. Some had travelled from as far as West Wales and Birmingham. Three large collages were placed on the wall packed with photos and newspaper cuttings of the division’s achievements over the years.

Members are marking the centenary year by raising money for a defibrillator to be fitted to the outside of their hall. Click here to donate

Rhys Collier, the divisional officer in charge of Griffithstown St John Ambulance, told Cwmbran Life that his mum and dad, his sister, and his grandfather have all been part of the organisation.

He said: “The division was originally formed in 1923.  A large part of my family has been involved over the 100 years and we’re really excited to be celebrating. We offer a load of different life-saving courses, whether that be first aid at work, defibrillation, lots of life-saving skills. We also offer children’s courses if heaven forbid your child is ever in need. We train that here locally in Griffithstown.

“We are a volunteer organisation so we do give our time and effort every week and we do encourage people who do want to pursue a career in the NHS. They use this as a sort of foundation to leap themselves so you get a volunteer career out of it so that really helps when you are applying for jobs.”

Rod Collier outside the st john ambulance griffithstown hall
Rod Collier outside St John Ambulance’s hall in Griffithstown (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

Rod Collier, Rhys’ dad has had many roles since he joined St John Ambulance as a child.

He said: “My father brought me along, when I was about ten, to the local nursing cadet division and then it just transpired from there. When he sadly passed away in 1976  I became the officer in charge and then I became county commissioner for Gwent, and then I went on to become county commissioner of Cardiff and then I was regional commissioner for Cardiff, the Vale, Mid Glamorgan and Merthyr, and then deputy chief commander after that. So I’m getting old now, I’ve come back to the division to help things go along there.

“Over the years, many of the cadets and young adults choose careers in the healthcare sector and I suppose that’s what St John is about, training our Badgers (for members aged 5-11) and Cadets.”

He said many Griffithstown-trained members had gone on to careers in the sector: “From memory, there have been eight doctors, too many to count nurses, opticians, podiatrists, social workers, paramedics, physios and ambulance service workers. So I think as a division we’ve contributed well to that sector.

“As most of you will know, over the years, Griffithstown has probably one of the best first aid competition teams, not only in Wales, but also over the bridge as well. Many of you who have shared in the successes are here, and I’m sure that competitive edge has helped you in your day-to-day lives.”

He said its members have played a key role in managing the first aid at many public events including at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Over 250 members of the public have been trained by the Griffithstown division this year on two courses, one on how to use a defibrillator and the other on essential first aid life-saving skills.

three people view a wall of photos
Guests at the party enjoyed looking at photos of the division’s achievements (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

Councillor Anthony Hunt, Torfaen Council leader and local member, told the room: “People like you give so much back to our community to make it so much stronger. There is no better example of that than the work St John Ambulance does in our community and beyond. Really what makes St John Ambulance for me is the work you do with young people. It’s so apparent that the great contribution that you make to young people through the Badgers and the Cadets. It shows how much those young people get out of the work that they do with you, how many skills they pick up and how many life skills they learn.”

Photos from the 100th anniversary party

two people view a wall of photos
(Photo: Cwmbran Life)
three old st john ambulance uniforms on display
St John Ambulance uniforms from the past were on display (Photo: Cwmbran Life)
a wall display of photos
The 100th anniversary party featured a wall display of photos from the division (Photo: Cwmbran Life)
a community hall
The division’s hall in Griffithstown (Photo: Cwmbran Life)
a certificate in a frame
A certificate to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the division (Photo: Cwmbran Life)



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Members of St John Ambulance in Griffithstown celebrate its 100th anniversary