Monday September 19, 2022: Representatives from both St John Ambulance and the wider international Order of St John were involved in today’s funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, including attending the service at Westminster Abbey.
Among the mourners attending the funeral were representatives from the Order of St John and St John Ambulance, including Nakkita Charag and Ann Cable.
Nakkita Charag, 23, of Newcastle, was among those representing the Order of St John – a Royal Order of Chivalry and humanitarian charity giving healthcare in 40, mostly Commonwealth, countries.
As one of the youngest members of the order, she was chosen for her outstanding contributions as a volunteer with St John Ambulance – the order’s operational arm. Nakkita played a key role in the successful campaign by St John and other health charities to get first aid taught in schools, which included her presenting at political party conferences as a teenager.
Nakkita says: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to be given this role. I saw world leaders, prime ministers, kings and queens. I was walking down the same aisle as William and Kate when they got married! But once I started in the procession, it was shoulders back, eyes straight, I am representing my country, the Order of St John and myself. That was really incredible, that feeling of pride, honour and privilege.
"My lasting memory is when her Majesty’s coffin went past, with her crown on the top. That was a surreal moment. That’s what we are here for – to celebrate her life, her service to this country and around the world.
“In the last week or so, I’ve gained a greater sense of the importance of St John’s role at her Majesty’s funeral, both the Order and St John Ambulance, as she was our Sovereign Leader.”
Whilst waiting Nakkita also met the actor Sandra Oh, who is an Officer of the Order of Canada. She said: “She recognised me from the rehearsal and wished me luck.”
Ann Cable is St John Ambulance’s Chief Commissioner. A volunteer with the charity since the age of 10, Ann went on to run several Cadet units, progressing to a number of youth and operational positions until she was appointed the first female Commissioner for London in 2008. She was responsible for volunteer resourcing for all major events in the capital – including the Diamond Jubilee, Olympics and Paralympic Games – for five years. When St John restructured in 2012, she became a District Manager and National Adviser before being appointed Chief Commissioner in 2017.
Ann says: “Every member of the St John family extends their deepest sympathies to the Royal Family, and we join with them, our nation, and the world in feeling the loss of a monarch whose grace, dignity and tireless sense of service have been a shining example to us all.”
In the procession
As more than 800 of the first aid and health response charity’s volunteers helped the event go ahead in safety, four St John people – three from St John Ambulance England and another from St John Ambulance Cymru – marched in the funeral procession as part of the Civilian Services Contingent (CSC).
Diana Martin, 34, is a St John Ambulance Unit Manager in Leicester. The university technician first joined St John as a Cadet in 2001 and stayed with the charity whilst she was at university in Surrey, and as an adult volunteer in Portsmouth.
Diana says: “I have fond memories of The Queen, and always admired the way she carried out her public duties with grace, respect and dignity. Over the Jubilee, and over the tragic events of the past week, I have enjoyed reliving her life with my two young children, who very much enjoyed her Olympic opening ceremony performance!
“It’s a privilege to be selected to attend HM The Queen’s funeral and I’m honoured to be a part of this momentous occasion.”
Emily Whyte, 25, from Watford is a District Youth Lead with St John Ambulance. She has been with the charity for 18 years, and her volunteering has seen her move from being a Badger, then a Cadet to supporting St John’s young volunteers, including work on the Health Citizens and NHS Cadet programmes as a project manager.
Emily says: “The Queen has been a very big part of my St John Ambulance journey. From standing at my Cadet enrolment ceremony, promising my loyalty to her, attending the Platinum Jubilee celebrations just a few months ago supporting our young people on event cover, to having the honour of being awarded the Sovereign's Award in 2019. I show my certificate with pride, knowing her signature symbolises a truly strong and memorable Sovereign of our Order.
“I’m very proud and privileged that I’m able to represent not only Essex but the whole of the youth sector within St John Ambulance.”
Jane Van-Tiel, 47, is a County Support Manager and County Youth Manager in Pontypridd with St John Ambulance Cymru, having joined the charity in Chichester, West Sussex, back in 1992. Jane says: “Being part of St John Ambulance Cymru has been like having an extra family and I have made some friends for life. St John is very much part of my family, as my mother, daughter and nephews have all been part of it. St John has led to me becoming a registered nurse.
“St John has given me the opportunity to attend as a guest of a garden party at Buckingham Palace, and to meet various and many members of the Royal Family at numerous events. Being part of the fantastic organisation has given me so many opportunities and it’s an honour to be part it.
“I feel quite honoured to be chosen as the only representative from Wales. It’s a privilege to represent the whole of Wales for this and especially my own county.”
Lee Devall, 44, is St John Ambulance’s District Clinical Lead for Essex, having joined the charity as a Cadet.
Lee’s interest in first aid led to him becoming a paramedic; he qualified in 2007 and now works for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust. He is based at Colchester Ambulance Station, supporting existing and new staff and Student Paramedics studying internally, and at external universities as a Practice Educator and Newly Qualified Paramedic Lead.
Lee says: “Due to my 19 years’ service, I’ve been awarded the Diamond and most recently the Platinum Jubilee medals. I’m very proud of my St John history and it’s a complete honour to be chosen to represent the organisation for the funeral of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”