A 16-year-old from Streatham has been named St John Ambulance’s Cadet of the Year for South London.
Benjamin Trayner-Clarke has spent five years volunteering with the health and first aid charity’s Streatham and Tulse Hill Young People’s Unit.
He began the work after taking part in a competition run by St John Ambulance in his primary school and hopes to pursue a career in medicine.
Benjamin said: “I’m really excited. I’m quite proud that I’ve gotten to this point, a few years ago I wouldn’t have seen me here.
“I’m very excited because I’m very much a people person and a lot of the time you will get stuck within your little bubble of your local unit and this opportunity is giving me a reason to go out and visit and pop into other units and say ‘hi’ and see how that’s going.”
The role involves making sure young volunteers are heard at all levels in their area.
Benjamin said: “It’s giving me a platform to try and better the organisation within south London and I think any improvement is good improvement.”
In February Benjamin will go to Northamptonshire to compete for the national Cadet of the Year award.
The winner takes on an important role representing St John Ambulance’s young people. They also attend ceremonial occasions and royal functions.
Benjamin explained that to win the national title he must beat his competitors in various tasks which assess skills including teamwork, leadership and first aid.
He described wearing his uniform as something which fills him with pride.
He said: “I know that when people see me in it they can see me as someone who’s willing to help them and I stop being just another moody teenager milling about.”
St John Ambulance is planning to expand its current offerings for young people over the next three years through its current programmes in schools and universities.
To join St John Ambulance’s junior programmes, Benjamin said you should be a people person who is motivated and passionate and has a willingness to learn.
He said: “Whether it’s ceremonial or youth work, like going to war ceremonies or actually treating people, you’re going to be interacting with strangers and you need to be capable of representing your organisation in the best possible manner.”
Every year around 500,000 people, including children and young people, learn how to save a life through first aid training with St John Ambulance – helping the charity with its work to attend medical emergencies and incidents around the country.
Reflecting on how he feels working for St John, Benjamin concluded: “It feels fantastic, I absolutely love it.”
All photos courtesy of St John Ambulance.