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Evelyn Pages' resident’s ‘exceptional’ donation

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When Evelyn Page resident Marie Jaques broke both her knees after a terrible tumble on an uneven footpath in Mangawhai, she took her first ever ride in an ambulance, and was left shocked at how ‘rickety’ it was.

From that incident an amazing idea was born, with Marie’s daughter Mervyl Lang inspiring the family to donate a brand new ambulance to St John’s Silverdale station to help people living in Orewa and the surrounding area.

That idea culminated yesterday at a special gathering at Evelyn Page with residents and staff who joined Marie and her family to watch the new vehicle being blessed by St John Chaplain Reverend Noel Cox.

Mervyl said she had read about a similar donation a couple of years ago and after hearing about her mother’s experience she knew St John was who the family should help.

“She’s thankful for all the ambulances and she sees them coming to the village so she knew there was a need.

“Mum used to be a nurse so we thought it would be a nice gesture and a fitting way of thanking the staff and the community. It’s something that helps people and that makes everyone feel good.”

Mervyl said Marie and her sister Glenice went to school in Silverdale and had lived in Orewa so it meant a lot to them that the ambulance would help people in the area.

“It’s nice to help people in the community and that’s why we decided to publicise it. It could inspire others to do the same if they don’t have family to pass on money to,” Mervyl said.

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Marie, Mervyl and Mervyl’s brother Lance Coker, and Marie’s sister Glenice Cartwright, were thanked in person by St John’s Glen Hill, General Manager, Northern Region, and Richard Blundell, Patron of the St John Northern Region Trust Board, as well as a group of uniformed staff.

“To have a private donation like this is quite exceptional,” Glen said, describing the family as ‘heroes’.

“I know you’re very humble and don’t seek accolades but today you should be very proud for this very generous donation.”

Richard said many New Zealanders didn’t realise that St John was a charity.

“The total cost [to run the service] is $222 million and the government only give us $158 million so charity is very important to us.”

He said: “This is the gift that keeps on giving. First of all it’s on the road for eight years and if you say each ambulance has 10 callouts a day, that’s about 30,000 patients who will be in this vehicle.

The family will receive a report detailing all the callouts it's been on each month.

Richard added: “To the family, thank you very much on behalf of St John, we really appreciate it.”

The new ambulance is a Generation 3 ambulance, made by Mercedes, and cost $213,000.

The other great thing about the new vehicle is it is kitted out with an innovative power lift stretcher.

Posing as a patient, resident Myra Hunter volunteered to demonstrate how one person could lift a patient into the ambulance using the power lift stretcher which operates automatically at the touch of a button and charges up when it’s sitting in the vehicle.

Ambulance operator Joy Carter, who has been with St John for 42 years, said she was thrilled that she would be driving the new vehicle, and wouldn’t miss the old method of lifting patients manually on a stretcher, which had to be done with a partner.

“When Mervyl came in she wanted to find out more about St John and I explained that we’re reliant on the public to help us,” Joy said.

“When she said they wanted to donate an ambulance I said: ‘Okayyyy!’ And I got her name and number and here we are!” she laughed.

After the formalities were over, the residents then gathered to sample a piece of the ambulance-shaped cake.

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