Meet Call the Midwife's new St John Ambulance volunteer
There’s a new face at Nonnatus House, in the form of Delia, a
nurse from the Royal London, who also happens to be a St John
Ambulance volunteer. Delia, a friend of Patsy, appears in the
second episode to teach the cubs and scouts first aid.
St John Ambulance was a little different back then compared to
today – which is clear straight away from Delia’s starched, grey
Call the Midwife is a popular drama set in a nunnery and
midwifery unit in Poplar in the 1960s. The show, which is based on
the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, follows a group of nuns, nurses and
midwives who work in the community. The fourth season is currently
airing on Sunday evenings on BBC One.
St John Ambulance caught up with Kate Lamb, who plays Delia, to
find out what it’s like to play a St John Ambulance volunteer in
What's it like playing a St John Ambulance volunteer in the
Really humbling, actually. It’s quite a brave thing to do – to
be responsible for that first-on-the-scene care and attention.
Wearing the uniform and the badge made me conscious of the amazing
service volunteers provide and what the organisation
What can you tell us about your character?
Delia’s a nurse at the London Hospital during the day but by
night she fights crime! No, she doesn’t, that’s a lie, but she does
volunteer for St John Ambulance which is arguably just as exciting
and important. She’s quite a daring person I think and enjoys the
change of pace that volunteering offers from work on the ward.
What did the role make you think about first aid and its
I’ve always valued the importance of first aid; I’ve done
several courses because I know it’s something that needs to be kept
fresh if you’re going to be able to rely on it in an emergency
situation. It’s quite interesting how some approaches have changed
between the 1960s and now though: Delia would get some odd looks if
she tried some of the old fashioned techniques today. What is
obvious across the decades, however, is that first aid isn't just
sticking on a plaster or giving someone a blanket - it can be the
difference between life and death. Modern first aiders have got all
this brilliant equipment now from oxygen to defibrillators - they
can make a huge difference in an emergency.
Organisations like St John Ambulance are a familiar sight at big
events and football matches, where they keep hundreds of thousands
of people safe every year; you hope they won’t be needed but it’s
such a comfort that they’re there. Playing Delia made me realise I
should probably refresh my own first aid abilities - everyone can
have the skills to save a life because first aid is actually so
easy to learn, and I've actually just downloaded the St John
Ambulance app so I can brush up when I’m on the train! Everyone
should download it so they can have life saving knowledge at their
What do you enjoy most about playing Delia on the show?
Spending time with such a great group of women – the characters
and the actresses. We always have a great laugh on set and, if
truth be told, most of my scenes involved cakes, chips or
ice-cream, so multiple takes of that stuff was quite fun! Oh, I
also have a fabulous beehive hairstyle that’s a joy to behold.
Were you familiar with St John Ambulance before joining Call
Yes, I think my first first aid course was run by St John
Ambulance when I was in training for my Duke of Edinburgh Award at
school. A friend’s dad was also an ambulance volunteer so I’ve
always known about them.
What do you think of St John Ambulance in the 21st century
compared to the 1960s?
There’s obviously so much more that volunteers can
now offer in terms of emergency treatment, that was just
impossible or not even understood in the 1960s. Before the NHS was
founded the St John Ambulance Brigade helped people in their homes
and offered quite a different service to the emergency aid it’s
known for now. They’ve always been the promoters of first aid
knowledge and that must have saved countless lives across the
What do you think of the uniform back then compared to the
Well today’s uniform looks a lot more comfortable! I felt pretty
smart in my dress, sensible shoes and tri-corn hat though.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!
Is there anything you'd like to say to the 40,000 volunteers in St
John Ambulance 2015?
Keep up the great work – I feel humbled to represent such an
important and long-serving organisation.