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Volunteer’s ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to represent St John Ambulance

Jane Van Tiel in her full dress uniform.

AS THE nation bid farewell to HM Queen Elizabeth II, Jane Van Tiel, Mid Glamorgan County Support Manager and the County Children’s and Young Peoples Manager was preparing for the “honour and privilege” of representing St John Ambulance Cymru as part of the Civilian Services contingent marching behind the gun carriage bearing Her Majesty’s coffin.

Jane who is a nurse at Ty Gwynno Care Home in Pontypridd has been volunteering with St John Ambulance Cymru for over 30 years, and has met King Charles III, the Queen Consort and the Princess Royal on a number of occasions.

When she read a request for volunteers to represent St John Ambulance Cymru at the funeral in London she knew that it was something she wanted to do.

Jane says, “I just saw an e-mail asking if anyone was free, and I responded not really expecting anything to come of it. I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We’re never going to see anything like that again.”

As the Queen’s coffin was taken from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, for her funeral service Jane marched in full uniform alongside three representatives of St John Ambulance England in a group comprising 88 representatives from the police, the fire service, the coastguard, the Women’s Voluntary Service and the Merchant Navy.

Jane says, “We did a full night time dress rehearsal through the streets of London, and we were given training to make sure we got the marching right. There were lots of early starts, and we spent a lot of time making sure we were marching in time. Everything was organised with military precision.”

“There was a real sense of camaraderie, we all bonded really well. The day of the funeral was odd. It was eerily quiet. There was a real sense of excitement that was tinged with sadness because we were all really aware of what a big event this was.”

“It is still a bit surreal. It hasn’t fully sunk in that I was there. I’m so proud that I was able to be there, and represent St John Ambulance Cymru.”

Queen Elizabeth II was Sovereign Head of the Order of St John, that role now passes to King Charles III. You can find out more about the order here

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Jane in the procession behind HM’s coffin with colleagues from St John Ambulance England. (Photograph used with permission of Peter Anderson @AndersonPhotography)

About us

  • St John Ambulance Cymru are Wales’ leading first aid charity
  • We teach people lifesaving skills including physical and mental health first aid, so they can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved
  • We provide emergency first aid, provides medical cover at events
  • We transport patients to and from hospital to support the Welsh Ambulance Service
  • We depend on charitable donations to enable us to help save and train others to save lives across Wales
  • We’re an independent charity and works separately to ‘St John Ambulance’, which operates in England
  • We operate a Patient Transport Service (PTS), working with the health boards transporting people to and from hospitals and our services have supported the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • We work closely with NHS Wales, local health boards, social services, private hospitals, insurance companies and individuals, operating seven days a week, 365 days a year