Life saver cyclist from Doncaster calls for more volunteers

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A South Yorkshire volunteer life saver cycled from Liverpool to Hornsea in record time to raise money for St John Ambulance – and is urging more people to join the first aid charity.

Former sergeant major John Fretwell, 41, of Intake, Doncaster, pedalled the 215 mile coast to coast Transpennine trail with his triplet brother Colin in just three and half days – camping en route and surviving on army rations bought online.

He said: “Most people take six days but since leaving the army, I felt I needed to challenge myself both physically and mentally. At the finish I was tired and had nerve damage in my left hand but it was worth it. It was great to cycle with my brother, who’s not ex-military but coped really well.”

John gives up many hours of his time every week as a first aider with the St John Ambulance Edlington unit and as a community first responder (CFR) for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

CFRs carry oxygen and an automatic external defibrillator (AED) so they can provide immediate life-saving care to members of their local communities in the vital minutes before the ambulance arrives.

Recently while on call as a CFR, John helped a woman in her forties suffering a severe asthma attack. He arrived at her home just four minutes after a 999 call was made by her mother and was able to give vital oxygen to the patient before paramedics arrived.

He said: “Things could have gone downhill rapidly, her oxygen levels were very low and she had become unresponsive. I’m glad I was able to help.”

John is now using National Volunteers’ Week to call on more people to give up their time to save lives.

He said: “I’d urge anyone to give volunteering a go. When I left the army I missed being part of a group and my roles with St John Ambulance and Yorkshire Ambulance Service have filled that gap. You help people, you make friends and you learn new skills. I’m hoping to become a St John advanced first aid cycle responder next.”

St John Ambulance which gives volunteers full first aid training, is urging more people to swell its 38,000-strong ranks in the country.

Volunteers meet on a weekly basis and give first aid support at a wide range of public events, from village fairs to football matches, marathons and pop concerts.

Volunteer roles include first aiders, doctors and nurses, cycle responders and community first responders. There are opportunities for people to develop administrative, IT and leadership skills.

The charity is also one of the country’s largest youth organisations – with active units for “badgers”, for seven to 10-year-olds and for cadets, aged 10 to 17.

For more information {http://www.sja.org.uk|Click here|Click her{ or call 01924 262726 option 4.