LIFETIME VOLUNTEER: Fay Gleave St John's Ambulance's trainer of the year.
LIFETIME VOLUNTEER: Fay Gleave St John's Ambulance's trainer of the year.

First aid trainer sparks life after retirement

SHE has trained thousands and thousands of people in first aid - and while Fay Gleave is now 84 and officially retired from a long career in St Johns Ambulance it doesn't mean she has actually slowed down.

For Fay, retiring in March 2017 means no more active duty after 30 years service and more than 10,000 volunteer hours, but it hasn't stopped her from continuing to teach people the art of first aid. Though she now team teaches with local Paramedic and friend Sally Quinn.

"In September 2014 I took on the roll of teaching first aid to Primary school children," she said.

"Since then I have taught more than 5,000 children all over the shire the basics of first aid."

In honour of her work in schools and with the general public, Fay has just been named the 2018 St John Volunteer Trainer of the year, just another honour in glittering and important career that has spanned 60 years.

"I left school at 15, I wanted to join the army and become a Medic, but I was too young so two and a half years later I was married and went to live at Uki on a dairy farm, but I never lost my interest in First Aid," she explained.

"In 1957 I gained a Home Nursing and First Aid Certificate and joined the VAD's (the Voluntary Aid Detachment) and did my training at Murwillumbah District hospital but I wanted to be involved with St John Ambulance so in 1958 I gained another first aid certificate and have up-graded my certificates every three years since then."

Fay taught her first course in 1973 and was appointed a Volunteer instructor on 14 January 1974 and has been teaching ever since.

It is a career that has seen her named Tweed Citizen of the year in 1993 and again in 2016 and achieve just about every honour possible in St Johns including being a Regional Superintendant, and being admitted into the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem and received the Century Medal in 2003.

Though for Fay it's not about the awards and rewards - its more about the young kids who come up to her before the course to tell her she had saved their father's life or to hear about her students helping and saving other's when they needed it. She has a lot of those stories - collected over a lifetime of service. She admits it is what keeps her going - that and the memory of her youngest son Jeffery who was born with Cystic Fibrosis and packed so much into his short life despite his illness.

How long will she continue?

Well that's an easy one for Fay Gleave.

As long as she can.