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3rd May 2024

At St Brendan’s we love to celebrate all that our students achieve inside and outside of the classroom. Recently two of our students, Becky and Matt, came to the rescue of Iceland’s Managing Director at the London Marathon. Both Becky and Matt volunteer for St John’s Ambulance and were there to save the day in Richard Walker’s hour of need.

We caught up with them to find out what happened on the day and their experience working with St John’s Ambulance to support events around the country.

Becky and James on BBC Breakfast

Becky and James on BBC Breakfast

I feel very safe being in the presence of not one but two life savers! Can you guys tell me what happened when the call came through?

BECKY: We were informed over the radio that a man had collapsed about 200 metres from our treatment centre. We went over to him, he was very confused and in a delirious state. We took him back to the treatment centre, got him hydrated and quickly realised he was in hyperthermic shock so we had to cool him down quickly. Once his temperature returned to normal, we had to heat him back up so we used blankets and stayed with him until his family arrived.

How did you feel when you got the alert? Do you get nervous?

MATT: You do get a little bit nervous, but at a marathon especially, collapses are the main thing you’re expecting to be called to. I’ve been to marathons before and it’s pretty standard, unfortunately people push themselves too far. I still get butterflies when the calls come through, but that’s when all your training kicks in.

Is it mainly marathons or are there other events you support?

BECKY: We do a lot of different events, London was definitely our biggest one so far …

MATT: … yeah I think the London Marathon is the biggest event St John’s covers.

BECKY: We mainly support runs but we also get involved with horse racing and football events.

MATT: We’ve both done Bath and Bristol half marathons so we knew what to expect, but this was obviously on a much larger scale!

Great, so they were like your dress rehearsals getting you ready for the main event. How did you both get involved with volunteering for St John’s Ambulance?

MATT: It was half way through lockdown when I first realised I wanted to be a paramedic in the future, so that’s when I signed up.

BECKY: Similar to Matt, I decided I wanted to become a paramedic and so volunteering for St John’s Ambulance made sense as my first step towards that.

That’s brilliant that you both have a really clear vision of what you want to do in the future, I’m sure the courses you’re studying will help support that as well.

MATT: I study Uniformed Protective Services, which gives me a really good insight to the requirements of the role. For anyone who wants to do Paramedic Science, universities require you to do a science course, however, due to my experience with St John’s I’ve been accepted onto a course even though I don’t study science!

BECKY: I’m studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths, and they team up really well with all of the experience I’m getting from volunteering.

So as well as all of the experience you’ve built up, are there things you’ve learned that have helped you in other areas of your life? I’m imagining you’re both pros at dealing with exam stress!

BECKY: I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for stress as there are so many types and they’re all different! But for me, St John’s Ambulance has really helped improve my communication with other people and working as a team.

MATT: It’s been great getting the opportunity to meet so many different people, I’ve definitely learned a lot from that and also things like patient confidentiality which is really important as a paramedic.

As you mentioned earlier, you both want to become paramedics so what are your next steps after College?

MATT: I’ve got an offer from Birmingham to study Paramedic Science.

BECKY: I’m going to study Paramedic Science as well, but I’m planning to go to Portsmouth University.

That’s spooky, I studied here and then went on to Portsmouth University as well, although I don’t think my English Literature degree would save many lives! Back to you guys though, what would say to someone who’s thinking about getting involved with St John’s but might not have the confidence to do so?

MATT: 100% just do it! You get lots of support from everyone there, and they’ll help you throughout your training and at events. You won’t get thrown in at the deep end, they give you time to do lots of observing and learning so you can get involved with treating people once you’re ready.

BECKY: You can join at any age, and it’s a really good starting point to learn all of the basic lifesaving skills and life support that you can take with you through the rest of your life.

Finally, what would is your favourite thing about volunteering for St John’s Ambulance?

BECKY: For me it’s lots of things, the events, the organisation and the people you get to meet along the way are all amazing.

MATT: My favourite thing is also meeting new people, talking to them and getting to know people from lots of different areas.


Thanks again to Becky and Matt for taking the time out to catch up with us, they’ve had a full week of interviews broadcasted on local and national news! You can watch Becky and Matt’s interview with BBC Breakfast here.