First-aid chief bids farewell
A chapter in the history of the Newark Division of St John Ambulance will close at midnight on December 31.
Mr Alan Bush (54) of Ashworth Close, Newark, will be retiring as the division’s superintendent.
Mr Bush joined the division in 1965, aged 11, and received his first certificate in first aid the following year.
He joined St John after hearing a talk at the Hercules Clay School, where he was a pupil.
“I liked the idea of the games night. In those days you either did Scouts, cadets or the Air Training Corps,” he said.
Mr Bush briefly left St John to begin an apprenticeship as a mechanical fitter at Staythorpe Power Station.
He returned as an adult member at the age of 18 and has not looked back.
“I just enjoyed it,” he said. “In those days Newark Show was the biggest duty of the year.
“We had only half a dozen other duties. Nowadays we are doing hundreds.”
Mr Bush said more organisations were becoming aware of health and safety, with many events requiring first-aid cover.
“Over the years the work of St John has increased as more people are aware of what we can offer,” he said.
Mr Bush said while the workload had increased so had the skill level of St John first aiders.
“If someone said to me 20 years ago first aiders would be carrying defibrillators I wouldn’t have believed them,” he said.
“The only danger is not keeping up that level of competency. Hands-on regular practice is the only way to learn.”
First aid has never been an issue for Mr Bush, who joined the ambulance service in 1976 as a 21-year-old. He has spent the last 18 years as a paramedic.
“It was the only job I ever wanted to do, but you couldn’t join until you were 21,” he said.
“I always wanted to be an ambulanceman so I’m lucky that I’ve been able to turn a hobby into a career.”
His involvement with the two ambulance services — one professional and one voluntary — took up a lot of his time.
He said there had been times when he went home in the black and white uniform of St John only to go straight back out again in the green uniform of the East Midlands Ambulance Service.
Mr Bush said his wife, Mrs Deanna Bush (56) and daughters, Mrs Lindsey Melady (30) and Miss Susan Bush (27) would be delighted when he retired as superintendent as he would be able to spend more time with them.
He said the highlight of his career with St John came when the division moved into its new headquarters on Telford Drive, Newark.
“The new building was something I never thought would happen,” he said.
“People come from as far away as Grimsby, Mablethorpe and Boston for first-aid training.
“Being on an industrial estate is also ideal for local businesses, many of which do the first aid at work course.”
The division moved from its former headquarters, the George Reed Memorial Hut on Appletongate.
“I grew up in the old building,” said Mr Bush.
“One reason I am going is simply that it is the end of my era. It would be a lot better for the new superintendent to take over a new building and start as he means to go on.
“I played my part by helping to get the new building. It is my legacy to the division and to Newark.”
Even though he is stepping down as superintendent, a post he has held since 1989, Mr Bush will still be involved with St John.
“If they find something for me to do in the background I will do it, but I will be away for a while,” he said.
“I don’t want to stand down but I think it is the right time.
“The division is the most important thing, not the individual.”
More by this authorPeter Harris