Thursday 23 November, 2023: Young volunteers who’ve saved lives, shown exceptional bravery, or overcome difficult personal circumstances, were recognised by HRH The Princess Royal at St John Ambulance’s annual Young Achievers awards yesterday (22 Nov).

The special event, held at the Priory Church in London, celebrated St John Ambulance Badgers (ages 5-10), Cadets (ages 11-17), and young carers who have made outstanding contributions in their communities. 

During the reception, The Princess Royal, who is Commandant-in-Chief - Youth of St John Ambulance, spoke with dozens of young people who had travelled from across the country and heard directly how their actions have positively impacted those around them. 

Among those recognised was 16-year-old St John Cadet, Joshua Youngs, from Ipswich, who saved his neighbour’s life when their heart stopped beating at home. Joshua’s quick actions, starting chest compressions and clear and professional hand over to emergency services were praised by Princess Anne at the ceremony.  

Upon meeting the The Princess Royal, Joshua said: “It was an honour and a real privilege. I’m just a teenager from a town in Suffolk, so to have had the opportunity to travel to London to meet her and for her to take an interest in me and the other Young Achievers on the day, was amazing. It was also great to see how passionate she was about supporting young people. I’m incredibly proud to have represented myself, my unit and St John. I hope Princess Anne enjoyed it as much as we did!” 

Joshua’s mum, Kirsty Youngs, said: “I come from a family of healthcare workers, and I’ve been in the sector since my early 20s. I remember responding to my first cardiac arrest 12 years into my career and it was incredibly difficult. For Joshua to take control of the situation and respond in the way he did, I’m honestly so incredibly proud of him.” 

Twins and St John Badgers, Ayden and Brayden More, 7, of Manchester, were both recognised for their bravery and support to their parents who over the summer overcame serious surgery. Dad Norman had a heart attack in July and his rehab and recovery was put on hold, as just weeks later the boys mum, Shakira was diagnosed with a tumour in her leg and had major surgery to rebuild her leg.  

The brothers stepped up to help their mum and dad and Ayden, who wants to be a ‘children’s doctor’ said, “We have been helping with cooking and helping mummy with her crutches and getting ice water to help with her leg and keep it cool.” 

Brother Brayden said, “We like helping. When I’m not in the living room, I’m in the kitchen helping.”  

St John Ambulance Youth Leader Heather Patten, who nominated the brothers, said, “They are wonderful boys who have really stepped up to help out without ever complaining. They have coped amazingly well, during a very difficult few months. We are all so proud of them  as are mum and dad.” 

Also attending the VIP event was Emily Smith, 16, of Leicester, who in July saved her mum’s life when she collapsed and fell unconscious from a brain bleed.

Emily said, “I was alone at home when I heard a huge crash upstairs. My dad had gone out to drop my brother off at a martial arts. I ran upstairs and mum was unconscious but had been sick and was still being sick even though she was unconscious. Her breathing was strange, because her airways were not clear. I dragged her to lay her on her side in the recovery position and dialled 999 on speaker.”

Thanks to Emily’s quick response and actions, Emily’s mum is now making a full recovery, following emergency surgery.  

Emily said “If I hadn’t done my first aid with St John I would have no idea what to do, to get mum on her side and get her breathing. I do think my skills helped to save her life.” 

This year more than 1,700 St John young people have given over 48,500 hours of their time supporting communities by giving lifesaving first aid and care alongside adult volunteers, and this is expected to exceed 50,000 hours by the end of 2023. 

St John Ambulance, Chief Commissioner, Ann Cable, said: “Our young people are incredible. We are tremendously proud of the achievements and their ongoing demonstration of kindness and compassion across the country. The positive actions they make every day, caring and supporting others, continues to impact and inspire those around them. 

“We were delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal and honour our young people who have selflessly cared for others. Some have continued this commitment through times of personal adversity and others have literally saved lives by having the confidence to use their first aid skills.” 

For more information about how St John Ambulance is inspiring the next generation of lifesavers through its youth programmes, and how to get involved, visit: