Obituary: St John stalwart farewelled

Audrey Pinfold

Audrey Pinfold’s farewell centred on her enthusiastic support of whatever community she belonged to, and to her extensive service with the Order of St John.

The 92-year-old, who was born in Hawke’s Bay and died in Cambridge on December 30, was noted for her hard-working ‘no fuss’ approach to life during her January 8 farewell service at Trinity St Paul’s Union Parish church.

Her long service with St John was also recognised through an address by the Order’s Brent Nielsen, who said Audrey had been involved with the organisation for almost half of her life. They acknowledged her outstanding service throughout that time, he said, and several St John regional offices flew their flags at half-mast on the day of her service. A minute’s silence would be observed at upcoming meetings, and the Order of St John flag was draped over Audrey’s casket.

Brent said Audrey’s service with St John had taken place primarily in the eastern Bay of Plenty area, where she was a regional staff officer on the Bay of Plenty district staff.  Her service was first recognised in 1981 when she was admitted into the Order as a ‘Serving Sister’, or member, and then further recognised in 1986 when she was promoted to Officer of the Order.

“She had an awesome reputation as a competition organiser, test paper writer and judge,” he said. “Her life has benefited many people.”

Audrey’s involvement with St John inevitably included her family; the children she shared with her late husband Jack were encouraged to join from an early age.  Jack had acquired a 65-hectare farm at Galatea after returning from WWII, and the young couple settled into its tiny two-bedroomed house to tackle life with no electricity or plumbing.

At 24, Audrey was a busy mum with four children under the age of five. She sewed and knitted the family’s clothes and grew their vegetables in the garden she loved. After a few years, she felt able to take on something else and joined the local St John Ambulance brigade, serving as an ambulance attendant across the rough roads covering far-flung regions.

Audrey Pinfold’s casket, draped in the Order of St John flag, was placed into a vintage St John ambulance following her farewell service.

She became recognised as the ‘camp mother’ at numerous gatherings, loved for her ability to overlook her own offspring’s transgressions without making anyone feel they were somehow special.

John Pinfold told those attending that she always had modest expectations, but always exceeded them. “When important decisions went against her, she would shrug her shoulders and move on … she was always understanding.”

When she retired from aive service with St John, Audrey became a life member.
In 2000, she moved to Cambridge where she continued to enjoy her lifelong interest in gardening.

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