St John Ambulance held its annual general meeting at its Valletta headquarters last Monday. This was presided over by the chairman of St John Council, Chief Justice Emeritus Professor J.J. Cremona, who welcomed the members of the Venerable Order of St John and those of St John Ambulance.

The Commander St John Ambulance, Colonel Carmel Vassallo, in his report for last year, highlighted the refurbishment and upgrading works at headquarters and how such works could only be undertaken thanks to a substantial donation by the London (Prince of Wales) district of St John Ambulance through the good offices of Major-General Michael Walsh, a dear friend of St John Ambulance Malta.

Colonel Vassallo then gave details of the work of the three major components of St John Ambulance - the Brigade (First Aid and Nursing), the Brigade (St John Rescue Corps) and the Training Branch.

The Brigade (First Aid and Nursing), commanded by Mrs Gemma Sirol, had a busy year in public duties and active participation in civil protection mass activities. The four open Divisions of the Brigade provided first aid at social, sporting, religious, leisure and commercial occasions, and manned three beach patrols on weekends and holoidays during the summer months.

The St John Rescue Corps, commanded by the Marquis Anthony Buttigieg de Piro, entered its tenth year of service last year, and its members were very active as ever, registering an impressive volume of training sessions and public duties. Training included basic and specialist high-angle and under-water rescue and an underground night evacuation exercise.

The Rescue Corps provided numerous beach patrols on summer weekends in support of the Civil Protection Departement. The corps also supported the Brigade (First Aid and Nursing) by providing first aid posts during the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II on the Floriana Granaries in May last year.

The Training Branch, under the command of Chev. Dr J.H. Cremona, organised 34 First Aid courses at headquarters and other St John Ambulance premises, as well as 30 courses on site for other organisations. A total of 150 first aid certificates were issued to university students and 121 certificates were issued to members of the Civil Protection Department. For the second year the Training Branch registered an increase in the issue of Three Cross Award certificates.

The Commander then briefed the meeting on developments regarding the future relations between the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem and the St John National Council.

Colonel Vassallo paid tribute to the late Chev. V.J. Bugeja, second-in-command St John Rescue Corps, and recalled the resignation of Brigadier Claude M. Gaffiero who had very ably commanded St John Ambulance for 13 years.

The financial reports of the St John Council and the St John Ambulance were then read out by the respective honorary treasurers, Charles Psaila, ACIB, and Lilian Muscat. The Council secretary, the Marquis Anthony Cremona Barbaro of St George, delivered the report on the work carried out by St John Council.

In concluding the AGM, the chairman said he considered 2001 to have been another successful year for St John Ambulance. He expressed appreciation for the dedicated and voluntary work carried out by the members, adding that they were to look forward to a bright future with courage and determination.

He observed that this year marked the Golden Jubilee of the accession to the British Throne of Queen Elizabeth II, Sovereign Head of the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem. He also thanked the former Commander, Brigadier Gaffiero, for his outstanding past services and welcomed the new Commander, Colonel Carmel Vassallo, commending him for having integrated most admirably into the organisation.

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