Grand Prior Award for St John cadet

Sarah Rix with Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy.

Cambridge’s Sarah Rix has topped eight years of hard work with a memorable visit to Government House to receive her St John Grand Prior Award from New Zealand Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy.

Sarah, 17, was presented with her award in Wellington.

The Grand Prior Award is considered the most challenging and highest attainable by those in the St John Youth programme.  It is gained by completing six compulsory badges, six badges of the cadet’s choosing from 29 available subjects, plus 100 hours of community service.

Sarah, who belongs to Division One of Cambridge St John, completed a raft of badges, including first aid, drill, caregiving, community awareness, communication, St John (history of the organisation), leadership, home technology, hobbies, health, civil defence, casualty simulation, camping and more.

She also did more than the minimum in terms of community service. She elected to volunteer at the Salvation Army for her run at community service and has chalked up an impressive 750 hours.

“I found I really loved it, so just kept going.  But I had to stop recently because of time constraints.”

“I’ve been involved with St John since I was nine and started as a senior cadet when I was 13,” she said. “You’re generally expected to complete your Grand Prior by the time you are 18.”

With those Grand Prior commitments behind her, Sarah is busy working up the ranks and is training as a cadet leader. “I have more time now to focus on that.  You tend to become quite consumed by the Grand Prior Award while you’re working towards it.”

The St John Youth programme takes young people up to the age of 18; thereafter they can opt to remain as leaders and trainers, or move into different areas of the service if they want to keep up their involvement with St John.

Sarah has no plans to leave. “It has been such a big part of my life since I was nine and I really enjoy it, so I plan to stay on as a leader. I’d like to help future cadets go through the programme.”

Besides the hard work, good fun and knowledge she has gained, Sarah said her time with St John has also given her a career path.  She wants to do something in the health sector, perhaps nursing or as a first responder.

“You learn so much more than just first aid in St John, such as core values,  discipline and leadership skills. For me, I found it really shaped me as a person.”

For all the confidence St John has given her, Sarah does admit to a few jitters when she found herself amid the ceremonial splendour of Government House.

“I didn’t think I would be, but I was really nervous.  It’s quite a place to be.”

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