Thursday September 30, 2021: A 1,000-strong St John Ambulance team, plus over a hundred people running in support of the health and first aid charity, are limbering up for this Sunday’s Virgin Money London Marathon. 

Delayed from its usual April date, the race is St John’s biggest single gathering of highly-skilled volunteers and medical professionals since the onset of COVID-19.

“It feels good to be back at the marathon,” says the charity’s head of event planning, Ann Bedford. 

“After 18 months of St John focusing on supporting the nation through the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been providing first aid cover at more and more events, but this is by far the biggest.

“We’re proud to have been at every London Marathon over the last four decades and our volunteers will line the route as a reassuring presence, ready to look after any runners who need us.”

In addition to delivering first aid, St John will benefit from funds raised by runners taking on the 26-mile challenge including…

Alice Henderson, from Manchester

“In 2019 my boyfriend Matt decided to run the marathon in memory of his dad. Sadly, he didn’t manage to finish the race and found himself in a very bad way after collapsing at mile 23!

“The emergency care that Matt received from the St John Ambulance volunteers was amazing.

“I know it sounds dramatic but I honesty felt like they saved his life. Both his mum, brother and myself were very, very worried in that tent.

“He is crazily going to be back to try again this year – hopefully won’t need you guys this time! – so I thought what better way to make sure he passes the finish line than to run with him, and for a great cause that is very close to us both.

“It has been tiring to say the least juggling work, training and a house move, but I am feeling confident that we will cross the finish line together (and hopefully we will not see the inside of the St John Ambulance tent this year!” 

Brandon Taylor, from Exeter

“I have done the London Marathon for the past two years, and the number of St John Ambulance volunteers available throughout the course is phenomenal.

“On my way to the start line in 2018, I was very nervous and remember sharing a DLR carriage with some St John volunteers. When we got to the station, they all wished me luck and one of shouted ‘we hope we don't see you!’

“That stuck with me throughout the day; how these strangers were not only taking the time to be there to help us runners medically, but also through random acts of kindness like simply cheering us on.”

During his last London Marathon, Brandon picked up an injury around mile 16 and stopped for medical attention

“So, in a nutshell, I want to give back to the charity that has played a part in both my London Marathon experiences.“The physio and volunteers from St John who looked after me were lovely, and gave me comfort in saying if I needed help further along the route I would be able to find someone.

“Working for the NHS, I know the incredible work our paramedics do, and this extends to St John Ambulance volunteers. The fact these guys are volunteers and don't get paid for their work makes them even more special.”

St John Ambulance at the Virgin Money London Marathon in numbers:A marathon effort

  • More than 1,000 St John people, including volunteer first aiders and medical professionals
  • 50 treatment centres
  • 45 ambulances
  • 25,000 plasters
  • 210 tubs of petroleum jelly
  • 600 ice packs

If you’d like to support St John Ambulance by running the London Marathon in 2022, you can find out more here:

Read more of our incredible runners stories here.