Inksplott Interview: St John Cymru – Wales

Back in the autumn, Inksplott had the opportunity to interview David Ball, a first aid trainer with St John Cymru – Wales (commonly known as St John Ambulance), which is based in…wait for it…Splott!

David was at the Grange Pavilion delivering free first aid training as part of the annual Grangetown Safety Week and was happy to spare five mins to talk about the work of the charity and share a memory linked to Splott.

Inksplott: How long has St John been in Splott?

David: Before I joined that’s for sure!  At least five years, probably longer.

Inksplott: Can you tell us a little bit about St John?

David: We’re a World-wide organisation and a very old organisation (according to the website, the exact date when the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem first came into being is unknown but consensus is that it was about 1070).  We came into being to look after the pilgrims going to Jerusalem.  We would provide food and shelter and aid to the pilgrims.

During the wars that happened with the crusades, we were moved out of Jerusalem and went to Malta and there was the biggest building in the world at that time; the hospital of St John.  From there, of course, we’ve spread right around the world.  In the industrial period in this country, people didn’t have the NHS in those days, and people were getting badly hurt, injured and even killed in work and St John offered a service to teach people in work how to care for their fellow beings until such a time as they could be got out of the works and taken home.

Inksplott: What is St John all about now?

David: We provide first aid training throughout the country.  We do the commercial side for businesses, first aid at work and things like that, and we run community courses, which is the reason I’m here today, delivering free first aid training to people who want to learn the basics of first aid but don’t want to go on a recognised course.  People haven’t got the time or sometimes the money, so St John provides taster community courses which includes basic first aid, which lasts about an hour and a half, and we do a baby and infant first aid session for around an hour.  If people would like to do the full four hour courses, then there is a charge.

We also provide fire marshal courses, food safety, patient handling, manual handling – all sorts of things.  A full list can be found on the website.  We can also help you do risk assessments for your work and assess how many first-aiders you should have and what first aid kits.  We obviously supply first aid kits and the supplies to top them up if they get used.  We can also supply mannequins for teaching first aid.

Inksplott: That’s a lot!

David: That’s not all!  We provide patient transport services and support the NHS ambulance trust here in Wales, providing ambulance services and occasionally emergency ambulance services.

Inksplott: Tell us something interesting about Splott!

David: Nearly forty years ago, I suppose, when I was in my late teens, early twenties, I came up to college here in Cardiff and saw that there was a great rivalry between Cardiff Uni and UWIC (University of Wales, Institute Cardiff).  I can’t remember the ins and outs of it but Splott, or Splow as some people call it, used to fall under UWIC, and I’m sure they had an emblem and was known as the University with the sign of the clockwork dragon because they had an emblem that came from Splott University which looked quite mechanical in design.  In rag week, they were always trying to outdo each other with stunts.  It was good fun!  It’s one of those memories – when you mention Splott, it brings back some fun memories from ages ago!

Inksplott: If there’s one message you would like people to take from this interview about St John Cymru Wales, what would it be?

David: We are the premier first aid trainers in the country.  We are a charity and aim to get a basic first aider in every household in Wales, whether that’s the parents or the children (we also visit schools teaching first aid to children basic first aid).  If every household had a basic first aider, then a lot more lives could be saved.

To find out more about the work of St John Cymru Wales, visit the website

Contact St John by Post

St John Cymru Wales
Priory House
Beignon Close,
CF24 5PB


You can also get in touch on Twitter @stjohnwales and Facebook /stjohnwales

Volunteer for St John Cymru Wales

If you’d like to join the charity as a volunteer, click here to use our online sign up.